SR-22 certificate of insurance what do I need to know?
Most drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI) have no idea the penalties and fines to expect or the hassle they will face trying to reinstate their license to drive.
Drivers may not only lose their right to drive for months, but they will also have to take several steps to reinstate their license, including paying fines and potentially purchasing additional high risk insurance.
What is a SR-22 certificate?
Although many people use the general term SR-22 insurance to refer to insurance coverage that may be required following a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs charge or a reckless driving charge, SR-22 (also referred to as FR-44 in some states) is not a type of insurance but rather a form that must be filed with the state by the insurance company verifying that a driver has purchased the necessary auto insurance liability coverage. Another term for the form is a Certificate of Responsibility.
Information concerning the type of insurance you will need to purchase to reinstate your license can be obtained by contacting the Department of Public Safety or equivalent agency in the state. In some states, drivers who have not purchased the proper insurance and have not sent the SR-22 insurance form to the DPS will not be eligible to have their license reinstated.
Costs of purchasing additional insurance coverage
If you have a history of getting traffic tickets, you have caused an accident, or you have been arrested for DUI, its likely the insurance company will classify you as a risky driver. The costs to purchase car insurance will reflect this additional risk.
Although you may be able to contact several different insurance companies to determine which company will offer you the best value for a high risk policy, you can expect your rate for car insurance to increase substantially after a DUI conviction. In addition to paying higher monthly premiums, you can also expect to pay a one-time fee of $25 or more to register for the SR-22 program.
Although finding reasonably priced insurance premiums is one factor when considering what insurance to purchase, it is not the only one. Other factors, such as the ease of talking to a service agent and finding sufficient coverage, should also be considered.
Additionally, if you attempt to cancel your policy at any time while the SR-22 insurance requirement is in effect, the insurance company is required by state law to contact the DMV and notify them of the cancellation.
Driving with a suspended license
Due to the reinstatement requirements, some drivers simply decide not to purchase insurance or try to reinstate their license and simply drive with a suspended license.
Although state laws vary, if you are caught driving with a suspended license you can be charged with a misdemeanor and you will be forced to pay hundreds of dollars in fines.
For example, in the State of Texas, if you drive with a suspended license and your license was suspended due to a DUI, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor which may require you to pay up to $2,000 in fines and spend up to 180 days in jail (Texas Penal Code § 12.22.). Fines and penalties will increase, however, if you were driving without insurance and you caused a crash that seriously injured or killed someone (Texas Transp. Code Ann. § 521.457(f-2).
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