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Criminal Penalties and Enforcement Provisions of the NY Highway Use Tax Law

Posted by Arnold A. Arpino | Aug 21, 2021 | 0 Comments


As a commercial carrier operating in NY state on public highways, you are likely subject to the NYS Highway Use Tax (or HUT). If you fail to comply with the HUT Law, the NYS Tax Department can do the following: (i) deny a certificate of registration to operate a motor vehicle in NYS; or (ii) suspend or revoke a certificate for any violation of the provisions of the HUT. 

Failure to comply with HUT can subject a corporation or individual to criminal fines, imprisonment, or both. 

This blog provides an overview of the NYS Highway Use Tax enforcement provisions, specifically the criminal penalties.

Criminal penalties 

As part of our practice we routinely represent clients who operate a motor vehicle without the proper highway use tax or automotive fuel carrier certificate of registration. Operating a vehicle without a sticker affixed to the truck is presumptive evidence that a HUT or AFC sticker has not been obtained.

If you: the penalty is:
  • operate a vehicle without the proper highway use tax (HUT) or automotive fuel carrier (AFC) certificate of registration,
  • operate a vehicle with a decal that has been suspended or revoked or was issued for a motor vehicle other than the one on which it was affixed,
  • operate a vehicle with an actual gross weight or unloaded weight above that listed on the HUT or AFC certificate,
  • fail to deliver or surrender your certificate of registration or decal,
  • fail to keep required records of operations of motor vehicles, or
  • violate any other provision of the Highway Use Tax Law,
a maximum fine of $250 upon the first conviction, and

a maximum fine of $500 or imprisonment for up to 10 days upon the second or subsequent conviction.

The majority of the time, our clients simply did not know that they were subject to the New York State Highway Use Tax Law. These tickets are usually returnable in local criminal court, and not in a traffic adjudication bureau. Therefore it is important to retain an attorney who is knowledgeable in these matters. Second, the majority of the time the police will issue these tickets in the name of the driver, and not in the name of the corporate employer. Usually, the driver is merely an employee of the corporation. Thus, it would not be fair to slap a potential traffic conviction on an employee. As a result, in appropriate cases, we ask that the court substitute the corporation as the defendant to relieve the employee driver of any potential personal liability to pay fines or surcharges as a result of a conviction.

As always, please reach out to the firm if you receive a ticket for violating NY Tax Law 1815 for operating a vehicle without a proper HUT or AFC sticker/decal. 

About the Author

Arnold A. Arpino

Managing Shareholder focusing on Creditor's Rights, Real Estate, & Non-Taxable Estate Planning.


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Arnold A. Arpino & Associates, P.C., is a full service law firm that represents individuals and businesses in a variety of different practice areas. Our firm regularly appears in the Courts throughout Long Island, New York City, and the Hudson Valley.