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General Information About the Graduated License Law (GDL)

For information about general restrictions that apply to all drivers of any age with learner permits, see Learner permit restrictions.

For people under 18 years of age with junior learner permits or junior driver licenses, there are additional regional restrictions to assist you in learning to drive safely. If you have a junior learner permit or a junior driver license (Class DJ, MJ or DJMJ), the combination of the general learner permit restrictions and the regional restrictions govern where in New York State you can drive, the time of day you can drive, and in what other situations you are allowed to drive.

It is important for you to understand exactly which driving privileges you have and which privileges you do not have. You must answer the questions

where in New York State will I be driving?
do I have a junior learner permit or do I have a junior driver license?
Where will I be driving?

There are three geographic regions that govern driving privileges

Upstate New York, which is defined as any county north of the NYC border.
New York City, defined by the five Boroughs.
Long Island, which includes Nassau and Suffolk County

Do I have a junior learner permit or a junior driver license?

a junior learner permit generally allows a young driver to drive only while supervised
depending on the region in which you are driving, a junior driver license, may allow a young driver to drive unsupervised with certain restrictions.
NOTE: Failure to comply with the restrictions for where and when you can drive could result in your junior permit, license or driving privileges being suspended or revoked for 60 days.

Can I drive outside of New York State?

You may drive outside New York State with your NYS junior learner permit or junior driver license if it is allowed by the laws of the other state. You must obey the junior permit and license restrictions that apply in that state. Check with the police or motor vehicle authorities in the state you will visit.

Can I drive in New York State with a learner permit, junior learner or junior driver license from another state?

If you are under age 16, you cannot drive in New York State, even if you hold a permit or license issued by another state.

If you are age 16 or older and hold a learner permit, junior learner permit, or junior driver license from outside New York State, you must obey

any restrictions imposed by the state that issued your permit or driver license, and
the New York State general learner permit restrictions and, if you are under age 18, the regional junior learner permit and junior driver license restrictions explained on these pages
Make sure your learner permit or driver license is valid to drive outside your home state before you drive in New York State.


Wrongly Classifying Drivers Could Mean Jail in New York State

A new law that took effect last week in New York State could mean significant financial penalties and/or jail for companies that knowingly misclassify employee-drivers as contractors.

According to the text, the law is designed to ensure drivers, particularly those who work for companies such as FedEx and UPS and port truckers, are properly classified as employees of the company where appropriate.

The bill, passed last summer, adds article 25-C, the New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Industry Fair Play Act, to existing state labor law. A “commercial goods transportation contractor,” (i.e. company) reference repeatedly in the law, means “any sole proprietor, partnership, firm, corporation, limited liability company, association or other legal entity permitted by law to do business within the state who compensates commercial vehicle drivers who possess a state-issued commercial driver’s license to transport goods in the state of New York.”

According to the law firm of Tully Rinckey, the law “creates a presumption of employment in the commercial goods transportation industry,” under which people “performing commercial goods transportation services for a commercial goods transportation contractor shall be classified as an employee.”

The law creates exemptions, the law firm notes, from this presumption for independent contractors and “separate business entities.”

Penalties for violating the law include a $2,500 civil penalty per misclassified employee and/or up to 30 days in prison or up to a $25,000 criminal fine for a first offense and a $5,000 civil penalty per misclassified employee and/or up to 60 days in prison or up to a $50,000 criminal fine for all subsequent offenses.

So what is a contractor under the provisions of the law? According to the text (the full version of which can be found here), the driver would be considered an employee of any company unless the individual driver is a “separate business entity,” is “free from control and direction in performing the job, both under his or her contract and in fact,” the “service is performed outside the usual course of business for which the service is performance,” and the “individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business that is similar to the service at issue.”

The basis for the law, according to the bill, is a Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations study that found nearly 40,000 employers misrepresented the statuses of more than 700,000 workers in New York between 2002 and 2005.

“Misclassification rates are disproportionately high in the trucking industry,” the bill states. “Port truck drivers and delivery truck drivers (e.g. FedEx and UPS drivers) are often improperly classified as independent contractors.

“Unlike real independent contractors, these workers are subject to stringent behavioral controls and are financially dependent on the company. Such drivers who functionally operate as employees are classified as independent contractors and therefore deprived of proper social security benefits, healthcare, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, minimum wage protections, rights to join a union, and the right to a safe and healthful workplace,” the bill notes.

The bill also points out that ports, in particular, are requiring truckers to operate more environmentally friendly vehicles but many port truckers simply can’t afford the investment. “By correctly classifying truck drivers as employees, the burden of purchasing new trucks would be put on the companies; employees would enjoy their proper rights as intended by the law, and environmental conditions at ports would improve,” the bill concludes.

Trucking firms that use contractors in the state of New York, particularly those operating in the ports, need to review their operations and contracts if they haven’t already done so to avoid paying penalties which can add up quite quickly. For drivers, of course, this could a boon to wages and working conditions, but it is a double-edged sword. Companies may alter contracts to comply with the law or stop doing business with independent contracted drivers altogether.


Certificates of insurance reform bill reported from Senate committee

PIANY’s top-priority legislation aimed at curbing certificate of insurance abuse (and regulating certificate forms) (reintroduced in the State Senate (S.6545/Seward) last week) has today been reported unanimously by the Senate Insurance Committee. This is the first step to the bill being considered by the full Senate. As reported earlier, PIANY met with the New York State Department of Financial Services last week to discuss the particulars of the bill passed last session (A.3107-D) and the governor’s objections to it.

Like last year’s proposal, this new bill would establish standards for the proper issuance of certificates of insurance and prohibited practices such as altering or modifying a certificate of insurance form, knowingly requesting the issuance of a certificate of insurance that contains false or misleading information, issuing a certificate of insurance that alters the terms or coverage provided by the insurance policy, and issuing an opinion letter or similar document that is inconsistent with this section. The bill would preserve the original intent of a certificate of insurance as a document “for information only,” and prohibit its use as a form to alter, modify or create coverage. It also would authorize the DFS and other entities to impose penalties against any person who violates these provisions. Twenty-four other states have taken action to address the improper and illegal use of certificates.

Despite the promulgation of multiple Office of General Counsel opinions from the DFS, New York state law does not currently regulate the improper use of certificates of insurance, leaving both insurance agents and general contractors desperate for this type of reform. Insurance certificate fraud is widespread and rampant and the victims are the injured parties who find that work was being done on the basis of a faulty certificate and that no insurance exists to compensate them for their injuries and loss.

Support for the bill has included endorsements by a host of insurance agent associations, insurance carriers and general contractors.


Tower enters agreement to merge with American Capital Partners Re Ltd.

January 6, 2014

Privately-held Bermuda-based reinsurer ACP Re Ltd. will acquire 100% of the outstanding stock of Tower Group International for $3 per share—an aggregate value of about $172.1 million—and merge Tower with one of its subsidiaries, pending shareholder and regulatory approval, according to statements.

Additionally, New York-based AmTrust Financial Services will acquire the renewal rights and assets of Tower Group’s commercial lines insurance operations, and specialty personal-lines insurer National General Holdings Corp. (NGHC), also based in New York, will acquire the renewal rights and assets of Tower Group’s personal lines insurance operations, according to AmTrust.

As part of the merger with ACP Re, Tower will be “the surviving corporation in the merger and a wholly owned subsidiary of ACP Re,” says Tower in its statement. The merger agreement was unanimously approved by the boards of both Tower and ACP Re.

Michael H. Lee, chairman, president and CEO of Tower, beneficially owns approximately 4.2% of the issued and outstanding common stock of Tower, and has agreed to vote his shares in favor of the merger.

The transaction is expected to close by the summer of 2014.

Tower also says several of its subsidiaries have entered into cut-through reinsurance agreements with AmTrust and NGHC, “pursuant to which, subject to receipt of necessary regulatory approvals, a subsidiary of AmTrust and a subsidiary of NGHC will reinsure Tower’s new and renewal commercial lines or personal lines policies, as applicable, and have each acquired a 10-day option to reinsure on a prospective basis not less than 60% of the unearned premium reserve relating to Tower’s in-force commercial-lines or personal-lines business, as the case may be.”

Tower says it will receive a 20% ceding commission from AmTrust or NGHC on all Tower premiums that are subject to the cut-through reinsurance agreements.

AmTrust President and CEO Barry Zyskind says in a statement, “The reinsurance agreement and cut-through endorsement, along with similar actions undertaken by National General, are designed to stabilize and secure Tower’s business and allow Tower’s agents, brokers and policyholders to rely on the financial strength of AmTrust and National General to stand behind Tower’s new, renewal and in-force policies.”

Fitch Ratings Director Gerry Glombicki explains the arrangement by noting that cuts to Tower’s ratings were causing some difficulty in writing business. When a company drops below an A- rating from A.M. Best, he says, agents must disclose that to clients through a letter.

Such a scenario is not a “death blow,” says Glombicki, noting that plenty of companies have a rating under A- and are doing fine, but the lower the ratings go, the tougher time a company has, he says. Tower, after being downgraded to B++ by A.M. Best in October, was downgraded again to B in December.

To help resolve the issue, Glombicki says AmTrust and NGHC will write the business while Tower gets a fee. Buying renewal rights, says Glombicki, is essentially buying a “relationship asset.” Tower has value with the customers it has, he says, and that is what AmTrust and NGHC are buying.

AmTrust says that, upon the completion of the Tower-ACP Re merger, AmTrust expects to “acquire the assets necessary to support the commercial-lines business,” including several of Tower’s domestic insurance companies, the commercial-lines business renewal rights as well as systems, books, records and the right to offer employment to Tower employees that deal with the commercial-lines business.

The total purchase price for the commercial-lines business is expected to be about $125 million, says AmTrust.

Zyskind adds, “We expect that the Tower book of business will further establish AmTrust as a market leader in the small commercial-insurance business. We look forward to integrating Tower’s commercial-insurance operations into our organization.”

The controlling shareholder of ACP Re is a trust established by the founder of AmTrust, Maiden Holdings, Ltd. and NGHC.


Senate set for test vote on flood insurance premiums hike

By MARSHALL COHEN CBS NEWS January 8, 2014, 5: 50 AM

The Senate is set to vote in the coming days on whether to consider legislation that delays steep hikes in flood insurance premiums, an issue lawmakers from coastal states have aggressively pursued for months.

The vote was originally anticipated for Wednesday but was postponed to allow floor debate on extending unemployment benefits. Flood insurance is the next item on the agenda and a vote is expected later this week or early next week, according to Senate aides.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, proposed by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., would block a major increase in flood insurance rates offered by the National Flood Insurance Program. The government-subsidized program protects more than 5.5 million properties nationwide, but the majority of policies are held in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California, New Jersey and other coastal states.
Congress approved the increase in 2012 in an attempt to put the program on stable fiscal footing after Hurricane Katrina nearly drove it to bankruptcy. The program has doled out billions of dollars in claims since its inception in 1968, including $7.7 billion last year, according to its website.

Flanked by colleagues from both parties, Menendez said at press conference Tuesday that the looming rate hikes presented a national issue that would deal a major blow to hardworking families.

“People who were paying $800 or $1,000 are now talking about paying $10,000,” Menendez said of his storm-stricken constituents in New Jersey. “That’s simply unsustainable for them.”

The two senators from Louisiana, Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter, joined local parish officials at the press conference as well. They spent much of the day lobbying senators to approve the temporary relief.

The legislation has gained momentum since Menendez introduced it in October, on the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. There are 27 co-sponsors, including eight Republicans – a rare bipartisan alliance.

The proposal is poised to clear Wednesday’s procedural vote to open debate, assuming there are no more than three Democratic defections, or none at all. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, promised that a vote on final passage is coming “in the very near future.”

Trade associations representing builders, realtors and bankers have signed on to support the bill. But some fiscally conservative groups have urged lawmakers to oppose the measure, which they say would lead to more debt as the flood insurance program continues borrowing money from the Treasury.

“This bill throws the baby out with the bathwater,” said R.J. Lehmann of the R Street Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., that promotes free-market ideas and opposes the bill. “The reforms passed last year made some major much-needed changes and this bill guts all of them.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday in a report that the bill would force the Federal Emergency Management Agency to borrow an additional $900 million over the next four years.

The bill would delay insurance hikes for primary residences until FEMA finishes an affordability study.

A similar bill was proposed in the House of Representatives but has not been called for a vote. House Republicans have balked at the Menendez bill, which faces an uphill battle in the lower chamber. The Republican-controlled House has previously moved quite slowly on Sandy-related relief legislation.

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