Following an arrest for a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, the individual facing the charges will then have to face a number of administrative penalties and charges, as well.
One of these is obtaining an SR-22 in order to have his or her driving privileges reinstated. The concept is not really understood, however, so here are a few basic tips on what is involved and what should be understood before proceeding towards getting an SR-22.
What Is an SR-22?
Washington requires the SR-22 endorsement be placed on the driver’s car insurance policy for the driver to meet the state’s requirements. Essentially, the SR-22 form designates the driver as “high risk.”
An SR-22 is also referred to as SR-22 Insurance or Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR). While the SR-22 is referred to as insurance, it is not a type of car insurance. Rather, it is verification that the individual is maintaining car insurance liability coverage.
The SR-22 is a state-mandated form that is filed by the individual’s insurance carrier through the Washington Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
When is an SR-22 Needed?
An SR-22 will be required when a driver who was in an accident or has been convicted of a traffic violation cannot show financial responsibility. If a person is caught driving without car insurance and is subsequently arrested, he or she may need an SR-22.
He or she may also need an SR-22 for any of the following:
- A driving under the influence (DUI) offense or any other serious moving violation;
- When the accident was the fault of the driver;
- A repeat offense or too many tickets within a short period of time; or
- Driving on a revoked or suspended license.
Types of SR-22 Endorsements
Three different types of SR-22 endorsements are available.
- The owner’s certificate is one form that is proof that all cars owned by the driver are covered by the insurance.
- Another form, the operator’s certificate, is proof of financial responsibility for situations when the driver does not own a car.
- The last type is the owner-operator certificate, which is proof of financial responsibility for all vehicles that are either owned by the driver or not owned by the driver but still used by him or her.
Washington SR-22 insurance requires the driver to carry the following limits on liability:
- $25,000 for bodily injury/person;
- $50,000 for bodily injury/ accident; and
- $10,000 for property damage.
Cost of an SR-22
The costs of an SR-22 varies by the state, but car insurance companies will normally charge an initial fee of $15 to $25 for the filing of the SR-22 form.
If the driver needs an SR-22, he or she will need to first purchase a car insurance policy. The amount of the policy depends on a number of factors. Since car insurance carriers will view the driver needing the SR-22 as a risk, the rates will likely be high in lieu of that information.
The increase in rate can be just a few hundred dollars for an individual’s personal auto policy to thousands of dollars if the policy is commercial auto.
How Long Does Someone Need an SR-22?
After the policy is prepared and the processing fee paid, a copy of the SR-22 insurance will be sent to the DOL by the insurance company. The State of Washington requires drivers to carry the SR-22 for three years (36 consecutive months).
The driver will be responsible for renewing the policy at least 15 days before it expires. Otherwise, the car insurance company is legally required to notify the DMV and the driver’s license will be suspended.
Washington State will reinstate the driver’s license after the policy is eventually renewed. To avoid this issue, it is always recommended that the individual renew his or her policy at least 45 days before it expires.
Can an SR-22 Be Avoided?
Many drivers wish to avoid having to file an SR-22. In some situations, the State of Washington allows drivers the possibility to deposit $60,000 to the Washington State Treasurer’s office to avoid the SR-22 insurance.
Another alternative is for the driver to get a surety bond from a surety company that is licensed in the State of Washington to put forward the money to avoid this requirement. Speak with an attorney experienced in DUI law to discuss the possible options available.