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New York New Resident Guide

Welcome to New York! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in New York. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • If you become a resident of NYS, you must get a NYS driver license within 30 days and surrender your out-of-state driver license.
  • If you become a resident of NYS, you have 30 days after you become a resident to register your vehicle in NYS.
  • You have a maximum of 10 days after you move to notify the DMV.


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner Permit

Requirements

  • Must be 16 or older;
  • Must pass vision test;
  • Must pass written permit test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May only operate vehicle between 5 AM and 9 PM when accompanied by a supervising driver age 21 or older who has a New York license valid to operate the vehicle you are driving.
  • From 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. the holder of a permit must be accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian, or driver's education teacher.
  • New York also has specific location-based restrictions:
    • In New York City, a learner's permit holder may only operate a vehicle from 5 AM - 9 PM accompanied by a driver's education teacher in a vehicle equipped with dual controls
    • In Nassau and Suffolk counties, a learner's permit holder may only operate a vehicle between 5 AM and 9 PM when accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian, or driver's education teacher.
  • Only the supervising driver may sit in the front seat.
  • All occupants must wear seatbelts.
  • May not have more than 1 unrelated passenger under 21

Class DJ

Requirements

  • Must be at least 16;
  • Must have held permit for 6 months;
  • Must pass road test;
  • Must have completed 50 hours of practice driving, 10 of which must be at night.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May operate vehicle alone from 5 AM to 9 PM unless in Nassau or Suffolk counties.
  • In Nassau and Suffolk counties, holders may only drive from 5 AM to 9 PM when driving to or from work, school, driver's ed, while farming, or if accompanied by parent or guardian.
  • May operate vehicle alone from 9 PM to 5 AM only when driving to or from school, employment, or when accompanied by parent or guardian.
  • May not drive in New York City.
  • All vehicle occupants must be restrained.
  • 1 unrelated passenger under 21 unless they are a family member.

Limited Class DJ or MJ License

Location restriction

  • Residents of Nassau, Suffolk, the City of New York, Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland Counties are not eligible to receive such license. Holders of such license may not operate a vehicle in these counties without being accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian.

Requirements

  • Must pass road test within first 6 months of holding a valid learner's permit.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Valid only to and from employment, school, medical treatment, daycare, or when accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian.
  • Automatically becomes a class DJ or MJ license after license has been valid for 6 months.

Class D License - Full License

Requirements

  • If at least age 17:
    • Must have completed driver education;
    • Must submit application.
  • If at least 18:
    • Intermediate license automatically becomes a Class D License when the holder turns 18.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



11 Point Violations

  • Speeding More than 40 MPH over speed limit

8 Point Violations

  • Speeding 31 - 40 MPH over speed limit

6 Point Violations

  • Speeding 21 - 30 MPH over speed limit

5 Point Violations

  • Reckless driving
  • Failed to stop for a school bus
  • Improper cell phone use
  • Use of portable electronic device ("texting")

4 Point Violations

  • Speeding 11 - 20 MPH over speed limit
  • Inadequate brakes
  • Following too closely

3 Point Violations

  • Speeding 1 - 10 MPH over speed limit
  • Speeding - MPH over speed limit not indicated
  • Passing improperly, changing lanes unsafely, driving to the left of center, driving in the wrong direction
  • Failed to obey a traffic signal, a stop sign, or a yield sign
  • Railroad crossing violation
  • Failed to yield the right-of-way
  • Passenger safety violation, including seat belt and child safety seat violations for passengers under the age of 16
  • Left the scene of an accident that includes property damage or the injury of a domestic animal

2 Point Violations

  • Other moving violations
  • Inadequate brakes (vehicle of an employer)

Driving Record

The points for violations that all occurred within the last 18 months are added to calculate the point total on your driving record.

If you get 11 points in an 18-month period, your driver license may be suspended.

If you receive six or more points on your New York State driving record in 18 months, you must pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee.

  • The driver responsibility assessment is a fee you must pay to DMV over a three year period.
  • This fee is in addition to any fines, penalties or surcharges that you must pay for a traffic conviction. The purpose of the assessment is to prevent the repeated behavior of problem drivers and to improve traffic safety. The quickest and easiest way to pay a driver responsibility assessment is online.
  • If you receive six points on your driver record for violations committed during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $100. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $300. If you receive more than six points on your driver record during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $25 for each point in addition to the original six points. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $75 for each point in addition to the original six points.

If you take a DMV-approved Point and Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP) course, you can reduce your driver violation point total by a maximum of four points



Insurance Requirements



To register a vehicle in New York State you must have New York State issued automobile liability insurance coverage. If you do not maintain the coverage, the DMV can suspend your vehicle registration and your driver license.

The minimum amount of liability coverage is:

  • $10,000 for property damage for a single accident.
  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident.
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident.

Your liability insurance coverage must:

  • remain in effect while the registration is valid, even if you don't use the vehicle (there are exceptions for motorcycles);
  • be New York State insurance coverage, issued by a company licensed by the NYS Department of Financial Services and certified by NYS DMV - out-of-state insurance is never acceptable;
  • be issued in the name of the vehicle registrant, and remain in the name of the registrant at all times.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you, even if the vehicle ahead is in a different lane.

You must use your headlights:

  • From one-half hour after the sun sets to one-half hour before the sun rises;
  • When visibility is less than 1,000 feet (300 m);
  • When you use your windshield wipers to clear rain, snow or sleet.

You may flash your high beams to signal your intention to pass a vehicle traveling ahead of you.



Implied Consent Laws



Administrative

  • First refusal - Revocation 1 year.
  • Second refusal (within 5 years) - Revocation 18 months.
  • Under 21:
    • First refusal - Revocation 1 year.
    • Subsequent refusal (within 5 years) - Revocation 1 year or until age 21, whichever is the greater period of time.
  • These revocation terms are mandatory.

Civil Penalty

  • First revocation - $500.
  • Second or subsequent revocation (within 5 years) - $750.


DUI Penalties



Driving While Ability Impaired (traffic infraction)

First conviction

  • Up to 15 days imprisonment;
  • $300 - $500 fine;
  • License suspension 90 days.

Second conviction (within 5 years)

  • Up to 30 days imprisonment;
  • $500 - $750 fine;
  • License revocation 6 months;
  • Ignition interlock required.

Third or subsequent conviction (within 10 years)

  • Up to 180 days;
  • $750 - $1,500 fine;
  • Ignition interlock required;
  • If third conviction within 4 years, or fourth conviction within 8 years, permanent license revocation.

Driving While Intoxicated/Ability Impaired by Drugs/Combination

First conviction (misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • $500 - $1,000 fine;
  • License revocation 6 months;
  • Ignition interlock required.

Second conviction (Class E felony) (within 10 years)

  • Up to 4 years imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine;
  • License revocation 1 year;
  • Ignition interlock required.

Subsequent conviction (Class D felony) (within 10 years)

  • Up to 7 years imprisonment;
  • $2,000 - $10,000;
  • If third conviction within 4 years, or fourth conviction within 8 years, permanent license revocation.

Aggravated DWI (BAC .18 or more)(misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $2,500;
  • License revocation 1 year.

DWI Felony

Class E Felony

  • Up to 5 years imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $5,000.

Class D Felony

  • Up to 7 years imprisonment;
  • $2,000 - $10,000.

Other

  • Community service may be offered in lieu of jail time in some cases or as a condition of probation.
  • Alcohol education and treatment.
  • Ignition interlock - required as described above, may be a condition of probation.


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $100 maximum fine, 3 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $50 fine; not a record or conviction offense; may not be used by insurers.


Construction Zone Penalties



  • Speeding violations are subject to an enhanced fine of $90 - $600, up to 30 days in jail, or both, whether or not workers are present.
  • Under a separate law, vehicular assault in an active work zone is a Class B felony offense, and vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone is a Class D felony. Additionally, intrusion into an active work zone is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500 or 3 months in jail.


Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • New York has no state law regarding right of way for a funeral procession, but is currently considering a law which would require all motor vehicles except emergency vehicles to yield the right of way to a funeral procession.
  • Funeral processions are not required to allow sufficient space between vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • You must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway.
  • Vehicles are required to stop at least 20 feet (6 m) away from the bus.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a minimum fine of $250.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



You are required to pass at a safe distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • Class M or MJ license is required.
  • Class MJ: The holder shall be at least 16 years of age and may operate any motorcycle. The holder may not drive in the city of New York. Such license will automatically become a class M license when the holder turns 18.
  • Class M: The holder may operate a motorcycle, or a motorcycle towing a trailer. The holder shall be at least 18 years of age, or 17 years of age if they have successfully completed a driver's education course.
  • A 4-hour motorcycle training class required.

Protective Gear

  • No person may operate a motorcycle without a helmet, goggles, or a face shield, and a rearview mirror so adjusted that the driver has a clear view of the road and condition of traffic behind such motorcycle.

Headlights

  • All motorcycles must, whenever the motorcycle is being operated, display 1 lighted lamp either white or yellow in color, visible for at least 200 feet on the front and 1 red light on the rear visible for at least 50 feet.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn.
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 55 mph.
  • 65 mph on parts of certain designated highways.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 16 years and older in the front seat must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $50.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law which involves a child under 16.

Child Seats

  • Children 3 and younger must be in a child seat. If they weigh more than 40 pounds, they may be restrained in a child seat or a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • Children 4 - 7 must be in a child seat or a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • Children 8 - 15 must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • In a seating position where there is no available lap/shoulder belt, children who weigh more than 40 pounds or who are 4 - 7 may use a lap belt without a booster seat.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $100.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicles;
    • Hazard vehicles.
  • You must exercise due care to avoid colliding with a stopped vehicle. This may include but is not limited to moving from a lane adjacent to the lane or shoulder where the vehicle is stopped into another lane, if it is safe and legal to do so.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus in the same lane or an adjacent lane closer than 200 feet, if the vehicle id displaying emergency lights.
  • You must not or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm, or within 1,000 feet if there is no block.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Show driver's license;
    • Show insurance identification card, and provide insurance company contact information and policy number.
  • Report crash
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 10 days after the accident, unless the accident was investigated by a law enforcement officer.
    • If the driver is physically incapable of making an immediate or a written report of the crash, any other occupant of the vehicle who is capable of making a report must do so. If there was no other occupant or they are not capable of making a report, the owner of the vehicle involved in the crash shall make the report within 10 days.


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