General Question

drdoombot's avatar

In New York, is a driver's license required to own a car? Or is a learner's permit enough?

Asked by drdoombot (8090 points ) June 21st, 2011

I have a learner’s permit but I need to practice on the road a bit before I go test for my license. Nearly everyone I know has a brand new car, so I don’t feel right asking them to practice on their cars. I was considering getting a few lessons with a driving instructor as well. But then I realized: I am looking to buy a car after getting my license, but why not do it before?

I wouldn’t be driving it on my own, of course; I know several licensed drivers willing to sit in the passenger seat while I practice.

Is it legal to own a car with only a learner’s permit? Are there any insurance concerns (ie., can you get car insurance with only a learner’s permit?).

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10 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here is a link to the New York State’s Division of Motor Vehicle’s website. From what I can tell, it looks like you would need to have insurance in order to register a car purchased and licensed within the state. It doesn’t specifically say that a driver’s license is required in order to make a purchase.

My guess though is, in order to obtain insurance, you would need a valid driver’s license. Your safest source would be to contact an insurance company to find out what the state requirements are. I’m in a different state, but when I switched insurance companies, they asked for my driver’s license information in order to confirm that it was valid.

Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing!

LostInParadise's avatar

My gut feeling is that a license should not be required for ownership. Owning a car does not necessarily imply that you are going to drive it. Imagine a very wealthy person who does not know how to drive, but who has a full time chauffeur to do the driving. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to own a car?

WasCy's avatar

You certainly do not need a driver’s license to own a vehicle in any state in the United States.

Blueroses's avatar

Buying a vehicle is not a problem. For insurance, you’ll need to buy a policy listing a licenced driver or have a licenced driver add the vehicle to their policy. Every state I’ve lived in requires insurance for registration but the registered owner does not have to be licensed.

robmandu's avatar

As @Blueroses and @WasCy said (stitched together), “Buying/owning a vehicle is not a problem without a drivers license.”

- EXCEPT -

If you’re using credit financing to make the purchase. In that case, the financial institution will likely require that the primary driver of the vehicle be the one named on the loan. “Driver” ==> Drivers license.

If you’re paying cash for the vehicle, you will need some form of state-issued photo identification to complete the title paperwork.

WasCy's avatar

@robmandu you may be right in the case of, say, most retail transactions. But I guarantee that fleet purchases are made (and financed) without the primary driver being named. For another example, a well-heeled owner (sans driver’s licence) could purchase (and finance, if he wanted to) a limousine and name his chauffeur as the primary driver.

Blueroses's avatar

@robmandu If you have good credit, you are getting a bank loan for the purchase of property which may be used as collateral. The bank doesn’t care if you will drive the vehicle or not. I’ve gotten a loan for an antique gun and I’m not the primary “shooter”. Your license status doesn’t matter to the bank as long as you qualify credit-wise to protect the collateral.

Then also, there are private party transactions. The notary doesn’t need your license to sign over a title. They only witness the monetary transaction.

WasCy's avatar

It’s more than likely going to be necessary to insure the vehicle (in most states, anyway), and in order to get an auto insurance policy I’ve always had to provide a driver’s name and license number. (And in the normal course of things, insurance companies know that owners = drivers, but that doesn’t mean that it’s required by the process or a rule of nature; it’s just the way things are normally done. Things don’t always have to be done the way they normally are.)

robmandu's avatar

@Blueroses, in my limited, but first-hand, experience in retail vehicle sales, the primary driver as the person securing financing was important as a technicality.

That technicality is, as far as the law and fraud goes, the important thing.

In reality, if you came in a bought a car with financing and claimed to be the primary driver, but then went home and gave the keys to @WasCy, there’d be no one to stop you… or really even care all that much.

—- So… we’re both right. :-P

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