SR-22 insurance isn’t the most glamorous topic in the world, but it can be pretty important in certain contexts for people who need to drive. So what is it? Simply put, an SR-22 form—sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility—represents proof of future automobile insurance.
How Does It Work?
With an ordinary insurance policy, allowing your coverage to lapse doesn’t automatically result in a license suspension. If you stop paying your bills, your coverage will end, but your insurance company isn’t obligated to report this to the BMV. If you’re driving around without insurance—which is a crime—it might not be an issue with the BMV unless you’re pulled over or get into an accident.
The State, however, treats certain offenses—including an arrest for DUI / OVWI or repeated violations for failure to file insurance—as an indication that a driver is high-risk and requires additional supervision. SR-22 provides a sort of oversight.
Unlike ordinary auto insurance, if you have an SR-22 requirement, allowing your coverage to lapse will automatically result in a license suspension. An SR-22 policy cannot be cancelled without notice to the BMV.
If the BMV receives a notice of cancellation on an SR-22, it will suspend you until you get a new one on file. An SR-22 filing must travel directly from your insurance provider to the BMV.
If the BMV Already Has It, Why Does the Judge Need a Copy?
There’s not really a good answer to this one, other than to emphasize the following points:
- Judges get to make the rules in their own courtrooms.
- Judges seem to have collectively decided to require proof of SR-22 filing from the insurance company.
- If you’re asking the judge for permission to drive, it’s in your interest to make the judge happy.
There’s nothing to be gained from arguing over an issue as trivial as this.
How Long Does It Last?
Administrative SR-22 requirements only come in two sizes: the three-year and the five year. An average DUI defendant ends up with a three-year, as do most people on their first or second suspension for driving without insurance.
The five-year is for people with at least three no-insurance suspensions. The more times you’ve been caught driving without insurance, the more likely you are to get the longer version of the SR-22 requirement.
An SR-22 policy is not usually cost-prohibitive, so if it seems like it is, that may be your cue to start calling other insurance companies and seeing what they can do for you.
Is It Required for Specialized Driving Privileges?
Not every judge in Indiana entertains the possibility of Specialized Driving Privileges, but every judge who does requires an SR-22 filing as part of the deal. This is true even where the SR-22 is not a formal BMV requirement.
Example: You’re charged with DUI / OVWI and while your case is pending, you receive a 180-day administrative suspension for chemical test failure. Even though your official driver record says SR-22: not needed, if you want to get Specialized Driving Privileges, the judge will insist on seeing proof of an SR-22 filing.
This also means that Specialized Driving Privileges can be the exception to the rule about SR-22 requirements only coming in two sizes. If you’re trying to get Specialized Driving Privileges on an HTV 10-year, the judge will likely insist that you carry SR-22 for the entire period of your suspension.
When Does the Clock Start?
The odd part is that this judge-prescribed SR-22 is a separate obligation than the three-year or five-year administrative requirement that’s triggered at the BMV. A judge’s requirements can usually be traced to one of the judge’s orders. On the other hand, the BMV-imposed SR-22 requirement begins when the administrative suspension that triggered it expires.
Example A: You’re charged with DUI / OVWI and while your case is pending, you receive a 180-day administrative suspension for chemical test failure. Six months later, your case is not yet resolved, but your administrative suspension has run its course. In this scenario, your three-year SR-22 obligation with the BMV begins on the date that your administrative suspension ends.
Example B: Same as above, but 100 days into your suspension, you plead guilty, and the remaining 80 days of your administrative suspension are replaced by whatever the court orders as an additional part of criminal sentencing. In this scenario, your three-year SR-22 obligation with the BMV begins on the date of sentencing, because that’s the date when your administrative suspension ends.
Need to Know More?
These are the most common questions we get about SR-22 insurance. It may sound fair to you, or it may sound like a bit much. No matter what you think, it doesn’t change the rules. If you still have questions about SR-22, give us a call at 317-632-3642, and remember—always plead the 5th!