WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2020
No one is a perfect driver, and we are all going to make mistakes from time to time. Hopefully, these mistakes will not lead to serious ramifications. However, if they do, then you might have to face a few consequences. These might be tickets, license suspensions, fees and more extensive punishments, one of which might be the SR-22 certificate penalty.
Any of these infractions might cause your insurance rates to jump, none more so than the SR-22. Why does this happen? Why is the presence of an SR-22 such a trigger point for higher car insurance rates?
Auto insurance companies must invest more money in drivers with high operating risks. An SR-22 is one of the clearest indicators that you are one of these high-risk drivers. That’s why it is important to keep this certificate off both your insurance policy and your driving record.
The Basics of the SR-22
Some people mistakenly think that SR-22s are insurance policy. They are not. Instead, they are certificates that your insurance company issues to prove that you have an active auto insurance policy.
Most states require their registered drivers to carry car insurance. However, they do not require all drivers to carry an SR-22 certificate. Usually, this requirement only comes into play after a driver commits a severe driving offense. Any mistake behind the wheel is proof that this driver is less trustworthy behind the wheel. Therefore, the SR-22 guarantees the state that the driver carries (and will continue to carry) an active auto policy.
Different states have different rules that determine when drivers must file for SR-22 certificates. However, the common driving infractions that might trigger the penalty include:
Additionally, if you accumulate multiple minor infractions in a short time, then the quantity of infractions might also trigger the SR-22. You should check your state’s legal requirements to see what their SR-22 penalty definitions are.
Once you have an SR-22 requirement, the penalty will likely remain in force for two to three years. You will have to carry active car insurance throughout this time. If you ever let your coverage lapse, then you will face significant penalties, and the SR-22 period might start over from the beginning.
Let’s consider some of the SR-22 triggers above and discuss some of the things that you can do to avoid them.
Trigger 1: Driving Without Insurance
SR-22s are proof that you have active car insurance. That is why if you get caught driving uninsured, then you will likely have to file for this form. However, it is much easier, and usually cheaper, to get a policy before an SR-22 penalty so that you can avoid the risk of driving uninsured altogether.
To comply with your state’s auto insurance laws, you will have to carry at least the minimum amount of coverage the state requires. You can also add other benefits into your plan to better protect you specifically. You will also have to carry proof of insurance, such as your insurance card, in your vehicle at all times.
Trigger 2: Driving with a Suspended License
If you are caught driving with a suspended or expired license, then you will face numerous penalties. An SR-22 penalty might come into play as an extra safeguard once you receive your privileges back. You must complete this process entirely before you return to the road.
DUI Or DWI Offenses
Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is extremely dangerous. Intoxicated drivers cannot operate their vehicles safely, and they put everyone around them in danger. They also have huge risks of causing wrecks or other accidents. It is completely understandable why an SR-22 penalty might result.
However, it is just as easy to avoid drinking and driving. Assign a designated driver, take public transportation or give your keys to a friend. Whatever you do, do not take the risk of driving drunk. DUIs usually triggers of some of the highest insurance rate increases possible. You can avoid this simply by being responsible when consuming alcohol.
Frequent Moving Violations
The more speeding tickets or other moving violations you get, the more likely you are to receive an SR-22 penalty at some point. Therefore, you should always strive to follow the rules of the road. If you feel that you need a refresher, then you might be able to enroll in a defensive driving course. If you complete this course, then your insurer might even give you a policy discount.
Severe At-Fault Accidents
In most states, if a car accident is your fault, then you must take responsibility for it. Usually, you must use your car insurance to pay for both your own vehicle damage and the harm done to other people and their vehicles. At-fault accidents also show that you are less trustworthy behind the wheel. Therefore, an SR-22 will act as an extra safeguard to guarantee that you have insurance. To avoid accidents is as simple as following the rules of the road.
While you will have reminders of these obligations everywhere you go, it is up to you to follow them. The more care you take when driving, the better your chances of never facing this penalty.
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