If you are involved in a car accident and do not have a valid drivers license, your right to sue may not necessarily be affected. Although the Vehicle and Traffic Laws in New York require all drivers to have a valid Drivers License, that does not preclude a person who is injured to sue.
In a civil case where a person seeks monetary compensation, the Court will advise the jury that the conduct of the parties as they operated a motor vehicle must be considered when they are trying to decide the issue of “fault.” If a one party is at fault and the other party is merely an unlicensed driver, generally the absence of a valid drivers license is ignored.
Judges (at their discretion) may decide whether the issue of an uninsured driver is relative to the issue of credibility. The general rule is that a person’s credibility may be “impeached” by presenting evidence of criminal conviction. Depending on the judge, a conviction which result in a “violation” is not considered a “crime.” Most judges have ruled that a misdemeanor or felony constitutes a “crime.” However, the minority of judges will allow a jury to hear evidence of a person’s conviction of a violation or infraction.
Depending on the judge, a person’s lack of driver license may be used at trial. The best argument against the admission of such evidence is that it will only be used to unnecessarily impugn a person’s character and the evidence has no real value to prove the issue of “fault.”
Let’s use a classic example to persuade a judge against the admission of “unlicensed operator” into evidence. Your client is stopped at a red light and is struck in the rear by another vehicle. What purpose does it serve to permit evidence of “unlicensed operator” except to distract the jury from the real issue of “fault”? The other driver is clearly 100% at fault, but to mention that the innocent driver had no license would be used only to punish that driver.
I am an experienced trial lawyer who understands the rules of the Court. I apply my experience each day in order to succeed in getting my clients compensated. Feel free to reach me if you have any questions.