It's against the law to drive your vehicle without registering it, having a license or carrying insurance. If you've been caught without your registration, that's a serious offense that could lead to deep trouble.
In New York and New Jersey, you can be fined for driving without a valid registration. You may also face penalties including time in jail depending on the circumstances. While each state has slightly different laws, you should never drive without registration.
When is it against the law to drive without registration?
Forgetting your registration at home isn't the same thing as never registering your vehicle. In fact, most police officers will give you time to produce your registration if you don't have it at the time of a traffic stop. It's illegal to drive without ever having registered your vehicle in the state where it's primarily used, though. If the registration expires, it's also illegal to drive your vehicle unless you've received an extension on that expiration.
Penalties for driving without registration can range from a few dollars to hundreds, depending on how long you let the registration lapse. Additionally, while lapsed registrations may initially lead to only minor nonmoving violations on your record, waiting several months to fix the issue could result in points on your driver's license.
Some kinds of vehicles do not need to be registered, like off-highway vehicles, but it's always a good idea to err on the side of caution and to register any vehicle you have in your possession. Our site has more on what you can do if you've allowed your vehicle's registration to lapse.