You've settled down and mellowed a bit, but your driving record still haunts you. If your youthful indiscretions include being caught for utterly irresponsible, devil-may-care driving escapades, you will need an SR-22 insurance certificate. Your car insurance company issues this badge of past dishonor. It informs the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state that you have become a law-abiding driver who carries car insurance according to its rules.
Driving without insurance is the most common way to get into the SR-22 program. Drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked also need SR-22 certificates before they can hit the road again. It also applies to anyone convicted of alcohol-related offenses, or someone who caused an accident through reckless driving.
Most states require drivers to carry an SR-22 certificate for three years after they find out they need one. If you're living in Alaska or a few other states, you'll need your certificate for five years for alcohol-related offenses. You'll wind up needing an SR-22 for life if you manage to achieve five drunken-driving offenses in Alaska. Texas gives bad drivers a bit of a break, as its irresponsible drivers carry an SR-22 for only two years.
Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania do not require high-risk drivers to file SR-22 certificates with their motor vehicle departments. However, a driver with an SR-22 from another state isn't off the hook if he moves to one of these states. He must keep the SR-22 from his former state until the end of the mandated period. Only drivers who commit offenses while residing in these states get away without an SR-22.
Contact your insurance company as soon as you can drive again after a period of license suspension or other offense. That company has to the send the SR-22 certificate to your state's motor vehicle department. If you switch insurance companies, let the new company or your broker know you need an SR-22. Most companies ask you this when you apply for a new policy. Otherwise, you are liable because your old company cancels your SR-22 along with your old policy.
- Progressive Insurance: SR-22: What You Need To Know
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Form SR-22 Insurance Certificate
- Alaska Department of Administration: State Department of Motor Vehicles: SR-22 Insurance Information
- Nebraska DMV: SR-22 For Revocations/Suspensions
- Carinsurance.com: What states mandate the sr22?
John DeMerceau is an American expatriate entrepreneur, marketing analyst and Web developer. He now lives and works in southeast Asia, where he creates websites and branding/marketing reports for international clients. DeMerceau graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in history.