Most drivers have never heard of an SR-22, a specific type of addendum on a driver’s license. SR-22s are also sometimes referred to as Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificates. If a judge recently ordered you to carry an SR-22 filing, you’ll need to know the ramifications, what’s expected of you and how to go about meeting the requirements. While dealing with legal issues and driving restrictions may seem like a massive hurdle at first, keep in mind that it doesn’t last forever. By adhering to the judge’s stipulations and paying your dues, so to speak, your SR-22 won’t have a lasting impact.
Our team at Daryl Graves Law, PLLC handles DUIs and other types of criminal cases that often deal with SR-22 orders. In this guide, we answer some of the most important questions about SR-22 filings and provide helpful info that you need to know. For questions specific to your case, call the office at 253-383-7777 and schedule a consultation.
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is not a type of insurance. Rather, it’s a certificate issued by an insurer, which essentially says that you have met your state’s financial responsibility requirements, as per the judge’s orders. With the certificate, the insurer is vouching for you and will tell the state you have the required coverage. Not all drivers are required to carry an SR-22; they are only required for those who’ve received a court order that mandates it.
In many cases, drivers who were involved in an accident or who were involved in a traffic offense and were unable to show proof of insurance or other form of financial responsibility will be required to carry an SR-22. Below are some of the most common reasons a driver is mandated to get one.
- Getting a DUI
- Driving recklessly
- Forfeiting bail
- Convictions for certain offenses
- Causing an accident
- Driving without insurance
- Failing to pay judgments
- Having your driver’s license suspended (When your license is suspended for whatever cause, getting an SR-22 certificate is the only way to reinstate your driving privileges. Having the certificate proves to the state that you have the coverage necessary to pay for any damages you may cause, in light of your driving record.)
How do you acquire an SR-22 certificate?
While getting an SR-22 may seem somewhat daunting, it’s really not all that burdensome, especially when you have a lawyer assisting you. (If you’ve yet to talk to an attorney about your violations or your SR-22 requirement, now would be the time. You are welcome to contact our office in Washington and speak to a lawyer about your case.)
Here are the basic steps for acquiring an SR-22 certificate.
- Find an insurance company that issues SR-22s. Note: Not all insurers issue them. If your current insurer doesn’t offer them or if you want to shop around for the best deals/providers, visit the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) for assistance in locating providers.
- Contact your insurer of choice and request an SR-22 filing.
- Pay the insurer’s associated filing fees, generally around $25.
- Ensure you carry the state’s minimum mandatory insurance. In Washington, you must carry at least $25,000 for bodily injury for one person in one accident and $50,000 per accident, plus $10,000 for property damage. (25/50/10)
- Wait for your SR-22 to come in the mail. After requesting the certificate, the insurance agent will send your form to the Department of Licensing (DOL) for approval. If your request is accepted, you’ll receive your SR-22 in the mail in about 30 days. You are not eligible to drive until the DOL has officially recorded your SR-22.
- Maintain your SR-22 for the entire 36-month required period. To avoid relapses and loss of privileges, renew your SR-22 at least 45 days in advance.
What are the types of SR-22 forms?
There are three types of SR-22s. You’ll want to ensure you obtain the proper kind or you’ll be in violation of court orders, which will mean having your driver’s license suspended again. Below are the three types of financial responsibility insurance certificates in Washington.
- Operator’s Certificate – This certificate proves financial responsibility when you’re driving somebody else’s car.
- Owner’s Certificate – If you own a vehicle, this certificate will cover your car. All of your vehicles either must be listed on the SR-22, or the form must state that it’s been issued for “all owned vehicles” in order to be compliant.
- Operators-Owners Certificate – This type of SR-22 is the most common kind. It covers you for all vehicles, both for owned and non-owned.
Are there any alternatives to getting an SR-22?
Most people who’ve been ordered to show proof of financial responsibility do so by obtaining an SR-22. There are, however, a few alternatives. One option is to obtain a certificate of deposit (CD), issued by the WA State Treasurer, in the amount of at least $60,000. You also can obtain a liability bond from a surety or bonding company for at least $60,000.
A third option is simply to avoid driving for three years. Of course this is highly impractical for most people. Also, don’t make the mistake of sidestepping the requirement and just driving without a license or without the required insurance and SR-22 certificate. If you’re caught, it will be considered a criminal offense, with possible jail time, fines and other penalties. It’s not worth the risk.
Which insurers provide SR-22 certificates?
You can speak to your current insurance agent and see if the company offers the certificates. Having an SR-22 will mean your premiums will increase, but it will only be for a short time. In three years’ time when you’re not required to carry an SR-22 anymore and after having demonstrated a good driving record, your premiums should be reduced to normal.
You may have to shop around a bit to find a provider and to find the best deal. The DMV, court and your attorney can assist in finding a provider. The list below, provided by the OIC, include insurance companies in Washington that offer policies for hard-to-insure drivers.
What do I do to reinstate driving privileges?
The process and requirements for reinstating your driving privileges depend upon the details of your case. “Three years is also how long it takes, generally, to clear your driving record. So any violations that triggered your needing an SR-22 have cleared from your record, too. In the meantime, keep your head up, know we’ve all been there, and remember that, in time, this will become ‘that one time when…’” encourages Progressive Insurance blogger Brittany Yingling.
Because having a suspended license is such a massive stumbling block, you’ll want to speak to an attorney for counsel. If you reside in Washington, we encourage you to call the Law Offices of Daryl Graves, PLLC for help. With more than 35 years’ experience in criminal defense law, we know the ins and outs of traffic laws and offenses and are able to provide you with answers to your important questions about righting your situation.
When you take advantage of our free consultation, we can review your legal options and determine how we can best help you reinstate your driving privileges. Contact us today at 253-383-7777 to speak with an attorney that’s well versed with SR-22 forms.