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What is an SR 22 Form?

There are many common misconceptions and popular misunderstandings about SR 22 forms among drivers all over the country. From mistaken ideas about the definition of an SR 22, to incorrect assumptions about requirements related to this form, these misconceptions can create a great deal of confusion for drivers who are trying to do the best they can to fulfill their obligations when they are faced with situations leading to the requirement to file an SR 22. A correct understanding of what an SR 22 is and how to fulfill the requirements tied to this form can give you a good start toward taking care of your obligations and getting your full license back in a more orderly manner.

SR 22 Not an Insurance Policy

Contrary to popular belief, an SR 22 is not a form of insurance or an insurance policy in and of itself. It is a simply a document or a form that certain drivers have to file with their home states in specific sets of circumstances. In very general terms, it is a document providing proof of the driver's financial responsibility. It is a certificate mandated by the state in which you live to verify that you are maintaining adequate automobile insurance liability coverage. In situations where you are required to file an SR 22, you will be notified by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of your responsibility to do so, and will be apprised of the specifics of how to file [1].

Some state agencies think of an SR 22 as proof of auto insurance for the future, because it requires your auto insurance provider to certify to the state that you are, in fact, covered; and because it requires that insurer to notify the state DMV if there is a lapse in your auto coverage or if your policy has been canceled or non-renewed at the provider's discretion.

An SR 22, then, is not a type of car insurance, but rather a way to show that you are carrying the type and level of auto coverage legally required by the home state in which the form is filed. Generally speaking, this type of form is required any time an insurance policy is sold to a driver who had been in an accident or had been convicted of a serious driving offense and had been unable to demonstrate financial responsibility in the aftermath of the accident. There are other, more specific circumstances in which an SR 22 is required of a car policy holder, some of which are discussed in the next section of this article.

The particular content of an SR 22 form, as well as the specific requirements for drivers who are required to file it, vary from state to state, so it is wise to check with your own state's DMV to find out more state-specific information on how to file the form and what will be required of you during the filing period. If you are informed by your state that you are being required to file an SR 22 form, you will only be able to get one from an auto insurance provider who is authorized to deal with this kind of documentation with your state. Not all insurers fit this description, so you may have to check around among licensed auto insurance providers in your state to find out which ones can help you out in this situation; or alternately, your state's DMV may be able to point you to a list of providers or someone who can get you that type of list. Either way, it is your responsibility to make sure to take care of this obligation if you are required to file an SR 22.

Situations Requiring an SR 22 Filing

As mentioned above, the requirement for an SR 22 form often comes into play when you are involved in a situation in which you have demonstrated an inability to take financial responsibility following an accident or serious traffic offense. But SR 22s are not limited to those who fall under this category. As a general rule, you can be forced to file an SR 22 form if you are caught driving without car insurance by law enforcement officials, even if it just during a routine traffic stop and no accident is involved. Habitual or repeated driving offenses can also trigger an SR 22 requirement, as can even a single DUI or DWI conviction.

Any other serious moving violation or accident for which you are at fault can also lead to this type of mandate, depending on the specifics of the situation. If you simply have too many speeding tickets in a short period of time, or if your license is suspended or revoked for any reason, an SR 22 filing may be in short order. SR 22 forms work in a somewhat analogous way to a probationary period that sometimes follows a criminal conviction. You must fulfill all requirements of an SR 22 filing for the specified period of time for which it lasts, a period that varies but can often be somewhere around three years. If your liability policy lapses from non-payment or your insurer cancels you for any reason, your home state will be informed and your license will be suspended once again, and the SR 22 filing period will start anew.

An SR 22 filing must be fulfilled regardless of where you live during the covered period. If you move away from the state in which you had to file the form to another state, your SR 22 filing period still stays intact, and you still have to maintain adequate liability coverage in your new state to satisfy your old state's minimum insurance requirements during the filing period. In addition, if your new home state does not require SR 22 filings (and there are several U.S. states that do not), you still must fulfill your obligations in your previous state under the terms of the original filing.

Non-Owners SR 22 Form

The obligations you have as a driver do not go away even if you do not own a car during the filing period. The logic behind an SR 22 necessitates this, as the intent is to help force you to demonstrate financial responsibility going forward. If you do not own a car, you can always get a non-auto owner's SR 22 form [2]. You can contact any qualified auto insurer authorized to deal with SR 22 proceedings, and they will get you more information. Fulfilling your obligations is a requirement if you wish to have your license reinstated after a suspension or revocation.

Facing the prospect of having to file an SR 22 is not pleasant for any driver, but if you are up against this type of situation, you have to look at it as a second chance to demonstrate your responsibility and earn back your privilege of legally sharing the road with other drivers. Your insurance costs will certainly increase when you have to file an SR 22 form, but the actions prompting your state to require the form are responsible for that increase, not the form itself. If you find yourself having to file an SR 22, learn all you can about your specific state's requirements, either from your DMV or from other trusted sources.

[1] http://www.carinsurance.com/InsuranceTerms.aspx#S Retrieved 2010-01-01.

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