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I’ve been practicing law in Raleigh for almost twenty years and have seen all kinds of stuff, but this is nuts. In North Carolina we have a compulsory motor vehicle insurance law. That means that if a car is driven on the roads here in NC, ya gotta have insurance. No ifs, ands, or buts. Here’s the statute if you want to take a look. NCGS 20-313. Clearly it says that the law only applies to the OWNER of the car requiring registration.  Thus, if you are stopped for “no insurance”and you happen to be the owner of the car, that’s one thing.  But the times that I have seen the cops charge a guy with this JUST BECAUSE HE WAS THE DRIVER of a car that happened to have no insurance are legion. NO WAY!

So here’s the deal, if one of Raleigh’s finest decides to pull you over when you’re driving your buddy’s whip and gives you a ticket for driving a car with no insurance, take a close look at that sucker (the ticket, that is). You’ll see language something like this “the officer named below has probable cause to believe that on or about (date) in the county named above you did unlawfully and willfully operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway without having in full force and effect the financial responsibility required by law while being the owner of the motor vehicle that was registered or required to be registered in this state.”

Get out of this ticket by proving you were not the owner of the car

To get out of this ticket (without hiring a lawyer) you might try bringing to court a copy of the vehicle’s title or registration showing (as nearly as may be BEFORE the incident) that on the date in question YOU WERE NOT THE OWNER OF THE CAR. Wave that baby at the DA and see what happens! That should be enough to get you off. Of course, if you cannot get that documentation (not that it doesn’t exist but because you can’t find it or the guy who loaned you the car is out of town etc) don’t fret. You might consider asking for a trial. It will probably take a bit of time waiting around in district court until they get to your case (ugh) but the reward may be worth the time. In a trial—recall—YOU as defendant will not be saddled with any of the burden of proof. That’s what the 5th amendment tells us, remember? Thus, you can sit silent while the DA and cop have to futz around for some kind of proof that YOU were the owner of the car that didn’t have insurance. If they can’t find any, then they lose! BOOHOO! You go home laughing. Congrats!

But what if you WERE the owner of that car?

OK, sometimes they get it right, ok? Say you WERE the owner of the car. Maybe the cop saw your registration or whatever and that’s how he knows. He ran the tag and the DMV computer says you had no insurance. But YOU know different! What happened? Well it’s like this: The DMV’s lazy and overworked personnel don’t like to update their computer systems very much. The gluttonous insurance companies, meanwhile, don’t like to send stuff to the DMV for the lazy DMV people to put in the computers anyway. Thus, if you had a lapse in coverage or you changed companies, it may be that when the cop stopped you in fact you DID have insurance but the DMV computer shows otherwise (and that’s what the cop is basing his decision to write you a ticket on). To beat the ticket, simply go to your insurance agent and ask for a DL-123 or FS-1 form that shows in fact YOU DID have insurance on the date in question. Note: DL-123 and FS-1 is NC nomenclature only. Other states may have similar insurance forms but may be called by other names. Go to court on your court date and bring THAT sucker to the DA’s attention and VOILA! Case dismissed! (You really are a good lawyer aren’t you?)

Hey, buy me a beer. I just saved you about $500!

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