For many people struggling to makes ends meet, expensive car insurance premiums can seem like a massive burden. They may not be able to afford adequate coverage, despite needing a personal vehicle to commute to and from work or to take their children to school. This can lead to people failing to pay their premiums, resulting in canceled coverage.

While at first glance, choosing to drive without insurance may not seem like a big issue. After all, these people are only endangering themselves, right? In reality, driving without insurance is more common than you might think. Those who do drive without insurance risk legal issues, including loss of their license.

New Jersey law requires minimum insurance on all vehicles

If you want to drive a vehicle legally in New Jersey, you have to have an insurance policy on the vehicle. In fact, you cannot even register a vehicle in the state without submitting proof of insurance. Drivers with a valid license to drive cannot operate their vehicle on public roads unless they also have a valid, active insurance policy on the vehicle.

The minimum policy coverage in New Jersey requires at least $5,000 in property damage, and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of $15,000 per person or accident. Policies do not have to include bodily injury coverage for third parties hurt in a crash or collision, but that coverage is often critical in the wake of a collision.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

If someone gets pulled over or stopped by law enforcement without proof of insurance, he or she will likely end up facing legal issues. The first time someone gets caught driving without valid insurance, the penalties include a fine of between $300 and $1,000, as well as a period of community service set by the courts. The courts will also suspend his or her driver’s license for one year.

For any subsequent offense involving driving without insurance, the penalties increase. They face a fine of up to $5,000, 14 days of imprisonment, 30 days of community service and loss of their license for two years after the date of their conviction. For someone who depends on a vehicle to get to and from work, that could prove a serious issue.

While there are other options, including carpooling, Uber or Lyft and public transportation, each of these options has flaws. You may not be able to carpool if you can’t take a turn driving. If you can, you may have to pay the other drivers for gas. Uber or Lyft, as well as traditional taxis, can become quite expensive if used regularly. Public transportation can be unreliable, making you late to work, and possibly costing you your job.