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Know consequences of borrowing, lending vehicles

Have you ever borrowed someone else’s car? Have you lent your car to someone else? If so, are you aware of potential requirements and potential consequences? I had someone recently ask me who is responsible for the ticket if someone driving a borrowed car is ticketed for an expired inspection sticker — the driver or the owner.

The answer to the question asked is the driver of the car is responsible, not the owner. Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 306(b) states: “No motor vehicle shall be operated or parked on the public highways of this state unless a certificate or certificates of inspection, as required by this article, is or are displayed upon the vehicle or affixed to the registration certificate for the vehicle as may be determined by the commissioner.” Sanctions for this violation is $50 to $100 for the first offense, unless the expiration of the inspection is 60 days or less, in which case the fine is $25 to $50. A surcharge of $88 to $93 will be added to the applicable fine. Note that this section of VTL covers parking a vehicle with an expired inspection, which also includes a parking violation.

However, if you are leasing or renting a motor vehicle for not more than 30 days, the lessor or renter shall be responsible in connection with any charge of violating this section, provided that any summons issued to the operator is turned over to the lessor.

So what happens if you borrow a motor vehicle for which the owner does not have liability insurance? Both the owner and the operator can be charged with operating, or permitting to be operated, a motor vehicle without insurance. Section 319-1 of VTL holds the owner of a motor vehicle who shall operate it or permit it to be operated without having in full force and effect the financial security required. It also holds the operator of such vehicle in violation of this section if he/she has the knowledge that the owner thereof does not have in such proof of financial security. If the vehicle’s owner or operator is found guilty under this section of VTL, applicable fines are from $150 to $1,500 and/or up to 15 days in jail, plus applicable surcharges. Furthermore, an additional civil penalty of $750 is assessed by DMV before application for license or registration can be issued. DMV automatically revokes driver license and/or registration for at least one year.

Lastly, section 401-1a requires the owner of a motor vehicle to register same with New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. If the vehicle’s owner is found guilty of a violation of this section for failure to properly register the vehicle, or should the registration expire, fines are from $75 to $300 and/or up to 15 days in jail, plus applicable surcharges. However, if the registration expired less than 60 days, the fines are $40 to $300, plus surcharges.

It is important for all owners of motor vehicles to know their requirements be aware of expiration dates for inspections, registrations and insurance. The same is required of drivers of someone else’s vehicle to know what they are responsible for should the owner be negligent in applicable requirements pertaining to them. As the saying goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

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