As the owner of an automobile, if you have ever broken the law and had your license suspended, you will need a statement of responsibility to get your license reinstated and be allowed to drive again. Known as SR-22, this is a form that is required for proving financial responsibility after a major traffic violation, such as an at-fault accident or a DUI. Although sold by insurance companies, SR-22 is not a type of insurance. It is a certification that establishes liability insurance for high-risk drivers.
Car insurance in Washington isn’t cheap and the premiums can be even steeper for those with a spotty driving record. However, with some preparation, it is possible to get an SR-22 without breaking the bank.
SR-22 in Washington
In Washington DC, the SR-22 is a document issued by an insurance company certifying high-risk liability insurance after a traffic violation that leads to the suspension of a driver’s license. This form needs to be filed with the DMV for the license to be reinstated.
Situations that call for an SR-22 include:
- DUI or DWI
- Driving without insurance
- An at-fault accident causing significant damage
- Speeding or breaking a signal
- Repeated traffic violations within a short time
To be able to purchase an SR-22, you must have car insurance. If you are caught driving without insurance then you will need to file an SR-22 when purchasing an insurance policy. This will not only result in higher premiums but might also invite refusal from many insurance providers.
Any violation remains on your driving record for three years in Washington. During this time, you have to be diligent with your car insurance payments and practice safe driving. Failure to do so gives your insurance company the right to report you to the DMV and it might lead to another license suspension.
Cost of SR-22 in Washington
The cost of the physical document that is an SR-22 is inexpensive. In most states and Washington DC, the filing fees for an SR-22 form ranges between $15 and $35. However, the real price to pay is the severe increase in insurance premiums that you will face due to the situation that caused your license to be suspended or revoked in the first place. Things like a DUI and extreme accidents make you a high-risk driver to your insurance company – meaning they’re more likely to have to pay their premiums. As such, your premiums will go up and this resulting hike in premium is colloquially known as ‘SR-22 insurance’.
In addition to the cost of the SR-22 and the increase in premiums, you will need to fulfill all other criteria for having your license reinstated. For instance, if you were convicted of a DUI, you have to show proof that you were treated for alcohol abuse and have mended your ways. There are also license reinstatement fees to be paid to the DMV. In Washington, this is $75 for non-alcohol related convictions, $150 for alcohol-related convictions and $50 for getting a probationary driver’s license after a DUI conviction.
The following table highlights the average cost of full coverage car insurance in Washington with a clean record and after violations:
|Clean record||DUI||1 accident||1 speeding ticket|
Non-owner SR-22s for Washington drivers
It is possible to be involved in a traffic violation without owning a vehicle but even if this is the case you will still need to file an SR-22. Since obtaining an SR-22 is not possible without car insurance, you first have to purchase a non-owner insurance policy, meant for drivers who don’t own an automobile. This policy is much cheaper than standard car insurance since it is meant to cover the motorist and not the vehicle. There are several reasons why someone might need non-owner insurance, including a lapse in the existing car insurance policy or to be protected while renting or borrowing vehicles, but the most important reason why people purchase this policy is for the ease of filing an SR-22 if needed.
While purchasing non-owner car insurance, the provider will file the SR-22 for you. Not all insurers carry non-owner insurance and those that do usually don’t publicize it. Some companies don’t issue a quote online or over the phone, meaning you might need to purchase it through a broker or agent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an SR-22 and an FR-44?
An FR-44 is similar to an SR-22 but required only in Virginia and Florida. It is filed much the same way as the SR-22 but the requirements are stricter. In Virginia, to have your license reinstated, you need to have minimum liability insurance of at least $100,000. In Florida, this amount goes up to $300,000. The only catch here is that if your offenses were committed before 2008, you don’t need an FR-44.
How long do I need to have an SR-22?
In Washington DC and many other states, you need to keep the SR-22 in effect for three years. Any violation during this time or a lapse in your car insurance policy can result in your license being revoked again.
Does my state require SR-22 insurance?
Some states don’t require SR-22 insurance. These are:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
However, if you move to one of these states from a region where you were issued an SR-22, you need to keep filing in the issuing state until your time is up.