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What Happens If You Get Into A Car Accident With An Expired License?


Getting into a car accident is stressful enough, but if you’re involved in one with an expired license in New York, the situation can become even more complicated. Here’s what you need to know about the potential consequences and outcomes.

The Legal Ramifications of Not Driving Without A License

Driving without a valid New York license can result in significant legal ramifications. New York Consolidated Laws, Vehicle and Traffic Law (VAT) Section 509 outlines the penalties for operating a motor vehicle without a valid license. The consequences vary depending on whether the driver has never been issued a license, has an expired license, or has had their license suspended or revoked. However, according to Section 509

“11. A violation of any provision of this section shall be punishable by a fine of not less than seventy-five nor more than three hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days, or by both…”

As a result, you are more likely to receive a ticket if your license expired recently and the fine will be lowered to no more than $40 if it was valid within the past 60 days. However, if your license expired a long time ago, you can be arrested for driving without a valid license and possibly face jail time. 

Does Driving With an Expired License Impact Accident Liability?

Driving with an expired license may impact accident liability to some extent, but it is not necessarily determinative. Liability in a car accident is primarily determined based on factors such as negligence, recklessness, and adherence to traffic laws rather than the validity of the driver’s license at the time of the accident. 

If a driver with an expired license is found to have caused an accident due to negligent or reckless behavior, such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield, they may be liable for the resulting damages and injuries. The validity of the driver’s license is just one factor that may be considered in determining liability.

However, having an expired license could potentially impact the driver’s credibility and raise questions about their competence as a driver. Insurance companies and legal representatives may scrutinize the circumstances of the accident more closely if the at-fault driver was driving with an expired license. This could potentially affect the outcome of insurance claims and legal proceedings related to the accident.

Car Accident Laws New York

No-Fault System

In New York, the auto insurance system operates on a no-fault basis. This means that your own insurance provider is responsible for covering your medical expenses and lost wages regardless of fault unless your injuries qualify as serious. 

11 CRR-NY 65-1.1NY-CRR

“The company will pay first-party benefits to reimburse for basic economic loss sustained by an eligible injured person on account of personal injuries caused by an accident arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle or a motorcycle during the policy period…”

Therefore, as long as your policy is still valid, your coverage may pay for your accident even if your license is expired unless there is a clause stating otherwise.

Pure Comparative Negligence

A pure comparative negligence rule applies to car accident cases, meaning that if you are partially at fault for the accident, your compensation will be reduced proportionally. 

CVP § 1411

“In any action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property, or wrongful death, the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or to the decedent, including contributory negligence or assumption of risk, shall not bar recovery, but the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or decedent bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.”

For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 40% to blame for the collision, you will receive 60% or $60,000. 

Seek Legal Advice

If you are involved in a car accident with an expired license, it’s crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced New Rochelle car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and options, navigate the legal process, and advocate on your behalf.