If you’ve gotten into trouble behind the wheel -- serious trouble -- you’ve probably been required to file an SR-22 insurance form with your state’s motor vehicle department. The SR-22 provides proof of financial responsibility; it tells your state’s motor vehicle department that you have taken out, and are financially responsible for, your state’s mandated insurance coverage. The SR-26 insurance form tells your state that mandated coverage has been canceled.
DUI/DWI, driving uninsured, multiple accidents or driving infractions -- all of these driving no-no’s might result in your driving privileges being suspended, possibly even revoked, and will definitely get you in trouble with the police, your insurance company and perhaps leave you answering to a judge. You still might need to drive, however, despite the trouble you’ve gotten yourself into. This is where the SR-22 form comes into play.
SR-22 and Driving
You’ll need to jump through some legislative hoops to get your suspended driving privileges back, and one of those hoops is complying with your state’s insurance requirements. You need to prove to your state’s motor vehicle department that you accept financial responsibility in exchange for being allowed to drive again. You’ll need to obtain -- and maintain -- the state’s required insurance coverage. Your insurance will confirm that you’re adequately insured by filing the SR-22 form with the state.
Most states require that you keep the mandated insurance coverage and your SR-22 filed for three years. You might have to keep it filed for five years, however, if you’ve really messed up. It’s much like being on probation – driving probation. Because you’ve committed driving infractions that suggest you are a danger to yourself and others on the road, you might need to prove that you will behave, so to speak, during the probation period to keep your suspended license active.
SR-26 Filing -- When It's Bad
If your insurance coverage is canceled or lapses, the SR-22 filing becomes inactive, and your insurance company will file an SR-26 form with your state’s motor vehicle department notifying them of the cancellation. This could get dicey for you if you’re still within your probation period and required to carry the SR-22. Once the insurance is cancelled -- and the SR-26 form lists the exact cancellation date so your state will know -- you will lose your driving privileges again.
SR-26 Filing -- When It's Good
Your insurance company also files the SR-26 with your state’s motor vehicle department if you’ve successfully completed your mandated probationary period and are no longer required to keep an SR-22 filing on record. Don’t breathe easy, however. By the time your SR-22 filing is completed, you will have paid much higher premiums for your insurance coverage, and your driving record will reflect the infraction and SR-22 requirement. This should be motive enough to stay safe – and sober – behind the wheel.
- In.Gov: Suspension, Reinstatement and Insurance Forms
- Texas Administrative Code: Financial Responsibility Certificate (Form SR-22)
- Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles: Financial Responsibility Certifications
- CarInsurance.com: SR-22 and Car Insurance -- What You Need to Know
- CarInsurance.com: Car Insurance Terms
- Progressive: SR-22 -- What You Need to Know
- SR-22 Insurance: What Is SR-26 Form?
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