While having your driver's license suspended is distressing and embarrassing, it does not mean that you will be prohibited from operating a vehicle for a long time. Unless you are a habitual DUI offender or committed a heinous crime, you can earn the right to drive again. However, the process of reinstatement may involve filing a certificate of financial responsibility, commonly known as an SR22. If you are clueless about the SR-22 process, the following primer will help you as you navigate the steps of regaining your driver's license.
Why Do You Need an SR-22?
One method that many states use to protect citizens from careless motorists is to make drivers with suspended licenses provide proof of insurance before they apply to get a license reinstated. A state-issued SR-22 is the document that satisfies this requirement. A judge will determine whether or not you will need to obtain an SR-22.
Not all drivers with a suspended license need to meet the SR-22 requirement. However, the document is usually required when your license gets suspended for the following reasons:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances
- Serious moving violations
- Unpaid tickets and repeat traffic offenses
- Fleeing a law enforcement official
- Forfeiture of bail for certain crimes
- Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death, injury or property damage
- Endangering another motorist or pedestrian
- Accumulation of a certain number of violation points on your driving record
- Failure to appear in court for a traffic violation
In some states you can have your license suspended if you miss too many child support payments.
How Do You Obtain an SR-22?
You cannot file an SR-22 on your own. Your car insurance company must do this for you. When you apply for auto insurance during the process of reinstating your license, you must inform your insurance company that you have been ordered to obtain an SR-22.
Coverage agreements with an accompanying SR-22 are generally referred to as SR-22 insurance. Even if you do not own a car, but want to get your license reinstated after a suspension, you may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance.
Once you choose the coverage you need, the insurance company will submit the SR-22 to your state's department of motor vehicles. A notation that you have an SR-22 on file will be posted to your driving record.
The insurance company sets the rates for an SR-22 policy. The coverage you purchase must meet your state's minimum liability requirements for someone who has had a suspended license. Contact your state's DMV to determine these exact requirements.
In many states insurance companies can file an SR-22 electronically so your coverage can begin as soon as you pay for your policy.
How Long Do You Need an SR-22?
Each state sets its own rules for how long you need to keep an SR-22 on file. Depending on the offense and where you live you may only need an SR-22 for a year. However, some states require an SR-22 for up to three years regardless of the offense.
Do not let your insurance lapse or forget to make a payment on time. You risk immediate suspension of your license if this happens. If your coverage expires, the car insurance company is obligated under law to report the cancellation to the state.
In addition, if you are on probation or had your license suspended because of a criminal offense, do not risk getting sent to jail because you failed to keep your SR-22 coverage up-to-date.
If you change insurance firms, the new company must file an SR-22 for you. Do not cancel your previous policy until your new insurance firm lets you know that the new coverage is in force. If you get a new car or upgrade your coverage, ask your insurance company or navigate to this site to get more information on updated policy details.