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An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that is required by the state or a court order for some high-risk drivers. It is a form that proves a driver has the minimum liability coverage required by state law.

your car insurance company considers you a high-risk drive

An SR-22 is not an actual insurance policy. Rather, it is a form that your auto insurance company files with the state on your behalf to show you have active insurance.

Some key points about SR-22s:

  • Filed by insurance company, not the driver
  • Proves minimum coverage, not additional insurance
  • Required due to high-risk status, like DUIs
  • Allows license reinstatement after suspension

Who needs SR-22 insurance

Not all drivers are required to have SR-22 insurance. SR-22 requirements vary by state, but generally they are mandated for drivers considered high-risk. Common reasons for needing an SR-22 include:

  • DUI or DWI convictions - Getting convicted of driving under the influence is one of the most common reasons for an SR-22 requirement. A DUI shows disregard for safe driving and indicates you are likely to drive drunk again.

  • License suspensions or revocations - If your license is suspended or revoked, you may need an SR-22 to get your driving reinstated. Some common reasons for suspensions requiring SR-22s:

    • DUI convictions
    • Too many traffic violations
    • Driving without insurance
    • Causing an accident while uninsured
  • Serious traffic violations - Rack up too many moving violations, get convicted of reckless driving, or get in too many at-fault accidents and you may need an SR-22. Examples:

    • Reckless or careless driving
    • Racing or speed contests
    • Hit-and-run collisions
    • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Driving without insurance - If you cause an accident or get pulled over while driving uninsured, you may need to file an SR-22 for a period of time as a penalty.

  • Failure to pay child support - Failing to pay child support can also trigger an SR-22 requirement in some states.

Who orders the SR-22 requirement?

The SR-22 will be mandated either by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a court judge.

  • DMV - The DMV generally requires SR-22s for serious driving offenses and license reinstatements related to suspensions. They will send you a notice informing you of the requirement.

  • Judge - Judges can order SR-22 requirements as part of sentencing for serious traffic convictions. The court clerk will notify you if the judge mandates an SR-22 filing.

Checking SR-22 requirements

If you are unsure whether you need SR-22 insurance or not, you can contact your local DMV or court clerk to check if it is required. Your auto insurance agent can also help look into your SR-22 status.

Getting SR-22 insurance

If you need an SR-22, here is the process to get it filed:

1. Obtain a car insurance policy

Since the SR-22 proves you have active car insurance, you first need to purchase a policy. You have two options:

  • Existing insurance - Contact your current auto insurance provider to have them file the form. Not all companies offer SR-22 filings, so you may need to switch insurers.

  • New policy - If you are currently uninsured, shop for quotes from high-risk insurers who file SR-22s. Inform them upfront of your situation.

2. Inform your insurer about the SR-22 requirement

Alert your insurance company that you need an SR-22 submitted to the DMV. Provide them details on why it was mandated and any correspondence from the courts or DMV.

3. Have your insurer file the SR-22

The insurance company is responsible for filing the actual SR-22 paperwork with the state. You cannot file it yourself.

4. Pay the SR-22 filing fee

There is typically a one-time fee of $25 to $50 for your insurer to file the form. Some states charge no fee.

5. Confirm the SR-22 filing with your insurer

Follow up to verify that your insurer has filed the SR-22 with the state. Obtain a copy for your records.

6. Check on license reinstatement

If you need the SR-22 to get your license reinstated, contact the DMV to confirm they received the SR-22 and can reinstate your driving privileges.

Shopping for SR-22 insurance

Since SR-22 insurance is mandatory, be sure to shop around for the best rates.

  • Compare quotes from at least 3 high-risk insurers
  • Ask about discounts for defensive driving, good student, multiple policies
  • Consider increasing deductibles or limits to lower premiums
  • Maintain a clean driving record to improve rates at renewal

Getting an SR-22 filing does not have to be a complicated process as long as you plan ahead. Contact insurers in advance, learn your state's requirements, and follow up on the filing.

SR-22 Filings and Fees

Once you obtain a personal auto insurance policy that meets your state's minimum liability coverage limits, the insurance company will handle filing the actual SR-22 form with the DMV on your behalf.

As the driver requiring the SR-22, you are not responsible for submitting the form directly in most cases.

SR-22 Filing Process

The typical filing process involves the following steps:

  • You request the SR-22 from your auto insurer
  • The insurer verifies you have an active policy with adequate coverage limits
  • The insurer completes the SR-22 form with your policy details
  • The form is electronically submitted to the state DMV by the insurer
  • The DMV reviews and processes the SR-22 filing
  • Your driving record is updated to reflect SR-22 coverage

This entire filing process usually takes 2-3 weeks on average.

SR-22 Status Updates

Your insurer is required to notify the DMV if your SR-22 insurance coverage lapses or is canceled before the mandated term is up. This notification will be submitted to the state using the SR-26 form.

If you need proof of SR-22 coverage for your records or to provide to the DMV, request a copy of the completed SR-22 form from your insurance company.

SR-22 Fees

In addition to your normal auto insurance premiums, most insurers charge a one-time filing fee between $25 and $50 to submit the SR-22 on your behalf.

However, SR-22 filing fees can vary significantly by state:

State Typical Fee
California $25
Florida $5
New York No fee
Pennsylvania $50

Contact your insurer for specifics on the filing fee amount, as it may differ between companies. Some states have no fee, or charge a percentage-based fee.

Remember that the SR-22 filing fee is separate from your normal auto policy premium. Make sure to factor it into your budget when shopping for SR-22 coverage. Maintaining continuous coverage is essential to meeting your SR-22 mandated term.

Maintaining SR-22 Insurance

Once your auto insurance company successfully files the SR-22 and you pay the one-time filing fee, there are ongoing responsibilities to keep your SR-22 active for the required period of time.

Duration of SR-22

In most states, an SR-22 must be maintained for 3 years before it can be removed. However, be sure to verify the exact duration with your state's DMV, as this may vary.

Active Insurance Requirement

To keep your SR-22 valid, you must maintain continuous auto insurance coverage that meets your state's minimum liability limits. If you let your policy lapse or cancel it, the DMV will be notified and your driving privileges will be suspended again.

Tips for Maintaining Coverage

  • Pay premiums on time to avoid cancellation
  • Review renewal notices closely
  • Avoid coverage gaps when switching insurers
  • Notify insurer if moving to update your address
  • Confirm new proof of insurance if getting a new car

Updating Insurers

If you need to change insurance companies while the SR-22 is still required, have the new insurer file an updated SR-22 right away. This ensures no gap in coverage that could jeopardize your license.

You may want to shop around for cheaper SR-22 insurance every 1-2 years if your current company raises rates significantly at renewal time.

Removing SR-22 Early

Do NOT attempt to remove the SR-22 prematurely before the 3 year requirement is met. This violates the terms of your mandated SR-22 coverage. Illegally terminating the SR-22 early could result in these consequences:

  • License suspension
  • Fines or extension of SR-22 term
  • Difficulty finding affordable car insurance

Confirming Removal

Once you reach the end of your SR-22 term, follow up with the DMV to verify the requirement is satisfied before removing the SR-22 filing from your policy. At that point, notify your insurer to delete the SR-22 so you are no longer charged the annual fee.

Carefully maintaining continuous insurance and leaving the SR-22 in place for the full mandated timeframe is crucial. Work closely with your insurer and DMV to ensure you meet all SR-22 compliance requirements.

Duration of SR-22 Insurance

If you are required to file an SR-22, you will need to maintain your auto insurance coverage and the SR-22 filing for a specified period of time.

Standard SR-22 Duration

In most states, the typical mandated coverage period for an SR-22 is 3 years. This means you must keep continuous auto insurance coverage for a minimum of 3 years from the initial filing date.

However, be sure to verify the specific SR-22 duration required by your DMV, as this can vary in some states.

Factors Affecting Duration

The length of time an SR-22 must be carried depends on several factors:

  • Reason for SR-22 - The violation or incident triggering the SR-22 can impact the duration. For example, a DUI conviction may result in a 5 year requirement.

  • Number of offenses - Repeat offenses and prior SR-22 filings may result in a longer requirement.

  • State laws - SR-22 duration ranges from 1-5 years depending on local state laws.

  • Individual court order - A judge may mandate a non-standard SR-22 period as part of a conviction sentence.

Sample SR-22 Duration Requirements

State Standard Duration
California 3 years
Florida 3 years
New York 1 year
Virginia 1 year

Extending the SR-22 Term

The original SR-22 required duration may be extended if:

  • You allow your auto insurance to lapse
  • You are convicted of another serious violation
  • You fail to provide proof of insurance
  • You get in a car accident while insured under an SR-22 policy

Tracking Elapsed Time

Carefully track the initial filing date for your SR-22 and note the schedule end date based on the required duration.

Contact your insurer and DMV as you approach the scheduled end date to confirm the SR-22 term has been satisfied and can be terminated.

Closely monitoring your SR-22 status, maintaining continuous coverage, and fulfilling the full mandated duration is essential to getting your driving privileges fully reinstated.

Removing an SR-22

Once you have maintained your SR-22 auto insurance for the required time period, you can have your insurance company remove the SR-22 filing.

Confirm Eligibility

First, double check with the DMV to make sure you have satisfied the full mandated duration for carrying SR-22 coverage. Confirm the requirements are complete so you can remove the filing.

Contact Your Insurer

Notify your auto insurance company that you need the SR-22 deleted from your policy now that the term has been fulfilled.

  • Request written confirmation that the insurer has stopped the SR-22 filing with the state.
  • Verify that the SR-22 filing fee will no longer be charged at renewal.

This process lets the DMV know you are no longer obligated to carry SR-22 insurance.

Filing an SR-26

Similar to filing the initial SR-22, your insurance company will file an SR-26 form with the state when canceling the existing SR-22.

  • The SR-26 serves as formal notification to the DMV that your SR-22 insurance is no longer active.
  • There is typically no fee for your insurer to file the SR-26 and remove the SR-22.

Updating Your Records

Once the mandated time period has elapsed, update your personal records to reflect you no longer have an active SR-22 requirement.

  • Remove any paperwork referencing your SR-22 coverage.
  • Update your proof of insurance documentation by requesting a new insurance card from your provider.
  • Double check that your driver's license record no longer mentions the SR-22 requirement.

Impact on Insurance Rates

Removing an SR-22 should lead to lower auto insurance rates at renewal, since you are no longer classified as a high-risk driver required to file proof of insurance.

However, serious violations and claims may still impact your premiums going forward. Check with your agent on the expected cost savings.

Closely follow each step required to successfully cancel your SR-22 filing once the mandatory coverage term is complete. This ensures you avoid any unnecessary license suspensions or penalties.

Consequences of Lapsed SR-22 Insurance

Allowing your auto insurance policy and SR-22 filing to lapse or cancel before fulfilling the mandated term can result in serious consequences:

License Suspension

Expect your driver's license to be immediately suspended if you fail to maintain continuous SR-22 coverage for the required duration.

Without proof of active insurance through an SR-22, the DMV will revoke your driving privileges.

Extended SR-22 Requirements

Losing your insurance coverage and letting the SR-22 lapse mid-term may extend the initial time period you are required to carry the SR-22 and auto insurance.

For example, if you were originally required to file an SR-22 for 3 years, a violation due to a lapse could extend it to 5 years from the new filing date.

Fines and Fees

You may be subject to fines, fees and penalty charges if your SR-22 insurance lapses before you meet the minimum duration period.

  • Reinstatement fees - A fee may be required to reinstate your license after it was suspended due to SR-22 cancellation.

  • Tickets - Law enforcement may ticket you for driving without valid proof of insurance if pulled over.

  • Court fees - You may need to pay court fees or processing charges to clear up license suspension issues.

High-Risk Insurance Rates

A lapse in your SR-22 insurance will categorize you as an even higher risk driver. This makes finding affordable car insurance challenging.

Expect steep rate hikes, or rejection from standard insurers. You may need to obtain insurance through a high-risk specialty provider.

Criminal Charges

In some states, driving without valid SR-22 insurance coverage in place can potentially result in misdemeanor or felony criminal charges.

Other Impacts

An SR-22 lapse could also:

  • Negatively impact your credit
  • Increase difficulty finding housing or employment
  • Prevent vehicle registration renewal

Avoid these consequences by carefully maintaining SR-22 insurance for the full mandated duration required by the DMV or courts.

Alternatives to Standard SR-22 Insurance

If you do not own a vehicle or are unable to obtain standard auto insurance coverage, there are some alternatives that may allow you to meet SR-22 requirements:

Non-Owner Car Insurance

Non-owner auto insurance policies only provide liability coverage. They do not cover physical damage to a vehicle.


  • Can satisfy minimum liability requirements and allow SR-22 filing even if you do not own a car.
  • Generally more affordable than regular auto insurance.
  • Short-term policies may be available if you only need SR-22 temporarily.


  • No coverage for vehicle damage or injuries to yourself.
  • Limited liability coverage amounts.
  • Still requires a good driving history in most cases.

Surety Bonds

Though less common, surety bonds can provide an alternative to insurance for state-required financial responsibility and SR-22 filings.

With a surety bond:

  • You pay a lump sum upfront instead of ongoing premiums.
  • The bond company files an SR-22 on your behalf.
  • The bond must be held for the same mandated duration.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Ignition interlocks prevent intoxicated driving by requiring a breath test before a vehicle will start. They are often mandated for DUI convictions.

Some states may accept documentation of an interlock device installation from a judge's court order in lieu of insurance and SR-22 for a limited time.


In rare cases, exceptions are made if you have an extreme circumstance making insurance unobtainable and alternatives like bonds or interlocks are also unavailable.

However, you typically must provide extensive documentation to the DMV and gain explicit approval. Exceptions are very situation-specific.

Discuss all possible SR-22 compliance options with your insurance agent or attorney if you are unable to obtain standard auto insurance.


In review, an SR-22 is a filing that provides proof of minimum auto insurance as required by the state DMV or courts for high-risk drivers.

While the SR-22 certificate itself is not insurance, you must purchase a qualifying policy from an auto insurance company that agrees to make the filing on your behalf.

Most states require maintaining SR-22 insurance and filings for around 3 years. Allowing it to lapse results in license suspension and other penalties.

Shop multiple insurers for the best high-risk rates. Pay the one-time filing fee and confirm the SR-22 submission with your provider.

Carefully maintaining coverage allows the reinstatement of driving privileges once the SR-22 term is complete.

Work closely with your insurance company and the DMV to ensure full compliance with SR-22 requirements in your state.

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