By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. | Last Updated:
Every vehicle in New York State must be registered with the DMV before it can be legally driven. Failure to renew one’s registration is a non-moving violation, even if the driver is pulled over and caught driving the vehicle. However, if for any reason a vehicle registration is suspended or revoked by the DMV, driving the vehicle becomes a crime with serious penalties.
What Are the Penalties for Driving with a Suspended or Revoked Registration in NY?
Criminal record: Driving on a suspended registration is a misdemeanor offense in New York. Those who are convicted under VTL 512 will have a permanent criminal record.
Jail time: A first offense of driving on a suspended registration can result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail. A second offense within 18 months can lead to up to 90 days in jail or 180 days for a third offense.
Fine: A driver can be fined between $50 and $100 for driving on a suspended registration. A second conviction in 18 months raises the fine to up to $200, or $500 for a third conviction.
Surcharge: In addition to the fine, drivers must pay a mandatory state surcharge of $88 (in a city) or $93 (in a town/village).
Reasons for Registration Suspension/Revocation in NY
There are two main reasons why a person’s vehicle registration would be suspended by the NYS DMV: a lapse in insurance coverage or failure to pay registration fees. The former is the most common reason. In either case, resolving the suspended registration will not be simple and may require the assistance of an attorney.
Keep in mind that, if the lack of auto insurance coverage is the reason for the suspended registration, then the driver may also be guilty of driving without auto insurance. In addition, the DMV may also choose to suspend one’s driver’s license for not having insurance, which can lead to a charge of aggravated unlicensed operation.
Defenses for Driving on Suspended or Revoked Registration in NY
There are two main ways to defend against a charge of VTL 512. One is to prove that the suspension was not valid (e.g. the driver never had an insurance lapse). If the facts do not support the notion that the registration suspension was erroneous and invalid, then the person must negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charge from a misdemeanor offense to a civil/traffic offense. This can be difficult to do without the help of a skilled attorney. An attorney can deal directly with the prosecutors to discuss the facts. He/she will be able to mount a strong defense with the best chance of persuading the prosecutor to reduce the charge. If the driver’s case is strong enough, a prosecutor will negotiate to avoid taking the charges to trial, where he/she risks losing.
How to Reinstate a Suspended Registration in NY
To clear a suspended registration, a driver must first check with the DMV to figure out the reason for the suspension. Then he/she must resolve the underlying problem. For example, a driver who failed to pay the registration fee can make that payment and then pay the reinstatement fee.
Will a conviction for driving on a suspended registration raise my insurance rates?
Possibly. There is no data available from insurance companies on convictions for driving on a suspended registration, so it is unclear how much it will raise rates. However, insurers base their rates on how likely a driver is to get into an accident that results in a lawsuit or payout. A suspended registration has no bearing on the chances of having an accident, per se, but it is a criminal offense and evidence of careless behavior.
Data on Driving on a Suspended/Revoked Registration Charges in NY
In 2018, police charged 35,084 drivers with operating a vehicle with a suspended registration. This accounts for about 1% of all traffic tickets issued in the state last year. It’s slightly above 2017’s figure of 34,700. Nassau County saw the most drivers charged with this offense in 2018: 6,725. Overall, driving on a suspended registration is the 17th most common traffic ticket issued in New York State most years. About 10,000 more tickets are issued for suspended registrations than for tailgating each year.
Common Questions About Suspended or Revoked Registration in NY
- Can police tell my registration is suspended without pulling me over?
Yes. Police have equipment that allows them to scan license plates. The scanner will show information on the vehicle, including the status of the registration.
- If my registration is suspended, can I register another car?
The NYS DMV will not allow a person whose registration has been suspended to register any other vehicle until the reason for the suspension has been resolved and the suspension lifted.
- Can I drive someone else’s vehicle if my registration is suspended?
Yes, a person whose vehicle registration has been suspended may drive another person’s vehicle (with the owner’s permission) with valid registration. The exception is if the DMV has also suspended the driver’s license. In that case, the person may not drive any vehicle until the license has been reinstated.
- Can someone else register my vehicle if my registration was suspended?
Likely not. The DMV will know the VIN of the vehicle in question and will likely deny the registration if the applicant for the new registration has the same last name as the person whose registration was suspended. It may also reject the registration if the new registrant resides at the same address as the prior owner. The reason is that this will appear (even if untrue) as though the driver whose registration was suspended is trying to defraud the DMV to circumvent the suspension.
However, if the individuals are not related and do not live at the same address, and if a valid bill of sale can be produced, it is possible that the DMV will allow the vehicle in question to be registered under a new name.
- How many days can my insurance lapse before my registration is suspended?
Insurance companies are required by law to notify the DMV the moment they have stopped covering a driver. However, before that happens, the insurance company must (again, by law) provide notice between 10 and 20 days before the coverage lapses.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or someone you love has been charged with the criminal offense of driving on a suspended vehicle registration, contact an attorney right away to protect your rights. The attorneys at Rosenblum Law have many years’ experience fighting traffic tickets and other serious offenses in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case.