SR-22 Explained: What Is It and When Do You Need One?

What is an SR-22, anyway? Who needs them, how do you get one, and how long do you have to carry it? In Part Two of our FAQ series, we answer all these questions and more.

At Esurance, we do our best to keep paperwork to a minimum — but a certain amount of documentation comes with the territory. One document that raises a lot of questions and causes a lot of confusion is the SR-22. If you have a good driving record and don’t let your insurance coverage lapse, you may never need one. But if you are required to get one, it’s important to know the right way to proceed.

Here, we answer your most pressing SR-22 questions, with the help of Nicole D., one of our super-knowledgeable insurance experts.

(Please note: These are general guidelines. Since regulations vary widely across the country, you should always confirm your local requirements with your state.)

SR-22s: what you need to know

What’s an SR-22?

An SR-22 is often required for a driver to reinstate or maintain their driving privileges after certain traffic-related offenses. It’s also sometimes known as an SR22 or a Certificate of Financial Responsibility.

Is it a type of car insurance?

No. It’s a document that the insurance company sends to the state (electronically or on paper) to confirm that the driver has an active policy that meets state liability requirements.

How do I know if I need an SR-22?

An SR-22 is required when someone who was involved in an accident or convicted of a traffic offense is unable to show financial responsibility (in other words, they can’t prove that they’d be able to pay for damages they may cause while driving).

You might need an SR-22 if you’ve had any of the following:

  • A DUI or DWI or any serious moving violation
  • An instance of being caught driving without insurance and/or without a license
  • An at-fault accident while driving without insurance
  • Repeat traffic offenses or too many tickets in a short time period
  • A revoked or suspended license

If the SR-22 is court-ordered, you’ll be notified at the time of your ruling that you need one. If it’s state-ordered, you’ll receive a notice of the requirement from your state DMV. If you’ve been informed that you need an SR-22, contact your insurance company so they can file it with your state.

Are SR-22s expensive?

The SR-22 itself is not typically very expensive. Though it varies by state, most insurance companies charge a processing fee of around $15 to $25. Some insurance companies won’t insure drivers who need an SR-22, or may add surcharges to the policy because of the SR-22 requirement, but that’s not generally the case. Since SR-22 availability and fees can vary by company, this might be a good time to shop around and get some comparison quotes.

Will an SR-22 cause my insurance rates to go up?

Depending on the violation, you might see an increase to your premium. But it would likely be due to the violation rather than the SR-22 itself.

How long do I need to carry an SR-22?

In states that require SR-22s, you usually have to maintain continuous insurance coverage with an SR-22 for 3 years (though it can range between 2 and 5 years depending on the state and the reason for the SR-22).

Wouldn’t it be easier to skip the insurance and just not drive for 3 years?

You could choose not to drive for 3 years, but that won’t necessarily waive the requirement. When you go back to the DMV after that 3-year hiatus, you may find that you’re still expected to obtain a policy with an SR-22 for another 3 years in order to reinstate your license.

The requirements can vary by state depending on the violation, so your best bet is to check with your DMV to confirm exactly what they need.

I want to get my license back as soon as the state allows. When should I contact my insurance company to get my SR-22 going?

This may depend on how your insurance company files SR-22s with the state. If they’re set up for electronic filing, the SR-22 can potentially be sent to the state the same day you make the request.

If the SR-22 is filed manually through the mail, however, we suggest allowing 10 to 14 days for it to be delivered to the state and processed by the appropriate department. You might get your copy before the state has finished processing the original. If so, you may want to take your copy to your DMV office to see if it’ll be proof enough to speed up your license reinstatement. But it’s up to the DMV to decide if they’ll accept your copy as proof of SR-22 or whether they’d want to wait for internal confirmation that the original SR-22 has been received.

Does having my license reinstated mean I don’t have to carry an SR-22 anymore?

Not necessarily. In most cases, you’re required to carry the SR-22 for the entire time period mandated by your state. It may be that the end of the license suspension also marks the end of the SR-22 requirement, but it’s also possible that the suspension will be reapplied if you don’t keep the SR-22 for the entire mandated period. We suggest checking with your DMV to confirm.

Have more questions about SR-22s?

Post your comment below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. And if you’re an Esurance customer, you can call our customer service experts anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Not an Esurance customer (yet)? Get a car insurance* quote online now.

Related posts

The top 6 things you should know about SR-22s.
Out-of-state car-insurance: everything you need to know
Excluded drivers: our expert answers your questions

* Not available in all states.

275 Responses to “SR-22 Explained: What Is It and When Do You Need One?”

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Lizet
    March 17, 2016 #

    My daughter recently received a DUI and this sr-22 is extremely confusing. She has decided to do the four months suspension no driving so my questions is even if Shes not driving at all Is an Sr-22 mandatory? Does she have to have it now or just until She decides to get her license back and can I take her off my insurance or do I need to keep her on because of this Sr-22?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      March 21, 2016 #

      Hello Lizet,

      This would depend on what types of requirements the court and/or DMV have imposed. It can and does vary from case to case and state to state.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Chris W
    March 20, 2016 #

    I'll be coming off an implied consent suspension (I made them get a subpoena to get my blood) in AZ in a few months, but no DUI charges were ever filed. Any idea if I'll need an SR22?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      March 21, 2016 #

      Hello Chris,

      This will need to be answered by the DMV.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Angela
    March 23, 2016 #

    So in addition to having the sr22 i would aslo have to get a regular insurance poilicy aside from the sr22 once i purchase vehicle?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2016 #

      Hello Angela,

      In general, you should be able to purchase a policy that covers your vehicle and have the SR22 added as an endorsement to your policy. This will depend on the state and company in which you’re covered.

  4. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Kenny
    March 23, 2016 #

    So, I was told by an insurance agency that I had to have an auto insurance policy in order to have SR-22. I asked "But what if I don't have a car?", and she said that I would have to get a policy that insures the driver, as opposed to the car.

    So my question is, do I actually have to buy an auto insurance policy for SR-22, or can I just get the SR-22 for the sake of getting my license back? They quoted me at around $80 a month for the policy I choose.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2016 #

      Hello Kenny,

      It sounds like they’re speaking of a Non-Owners SR22 policy. Esurance does not currently offer this product. We would suggest double checking with your local DMV before purchasing the policy.

  5. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Alissa
    March 24, 2016 #

    I was charged with a dwi and no insurance back in 2014 and the dwi was dropped do to me not being intoxicated but I payed the other tickets before they were due.. Thought it was over now in 2016 I get a letter of suspension on my drivers license and is asking for a SR-22? Why? I have never been in any trouble on the road and have had insurance since? I don't understand all this! It's been almost two years can they do this.??

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2016 #

      Hello Alissa,

      Sometimes these can come up later. Some states take longer to process these types of updates to your motor vehicle reports. We would suggest speaking to your local DMV for more detailed answers to your concerns.

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Sandeeja
    March 25, 2016 #

    So I just gotten my sr22 today, does that,means I can start driviving anytime and anywhere as long as I have the car under my name or I can drive any vechicle? Also wanted to know if I have to go DMV to get my license ? I have proof of my dui classes certificates and sr22, is that all I need to get my driver license back?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2016 #

      Hello Sandeeja,

      You’ll want to confirm this information with your local DMV. Regarding what you’re covered to drive, you’d want to refer to your policy contract/policy declarations page. If you have any specific questions on what cars you’re covered to drive, we would suggest speaking to a licensed agent.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Donald Dargavell
    March 31, 2016 #

    I filed my Sr.-22 and it shows on my acct but I've not received a copy. What can I take with me?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2016 #

      Hello Donald,

      If your state is an Efile SR22 state, you’ll get an email confirmation. If your state requires paper copy SR22s, you may call and request a copy to be faxed or mailed to your home address.

      Thanks for reading.

  8. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Eric
    April 2, 2016 #

    What will happen if I have had an sr22, but could not afford to keep up on it? What will happen if it doesn't get sent?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 8, 2016 #

      Hello,

      Thank you for checking, Eric. You’ll want to check with your local DMV for their state specific rules on the SR22.

  9. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Paul
    April 11, 2016 #

    question i got my grand daughter a car, she was already added to my own insurance so she could drive my car. I got her a car from a buy her pay here place. before i could get the kid her own policy she got into a wreck. she was given a ticket for driving with out prof insurance and now got a letter saying she needs a sr22 and a release for the damages for the other car so i am at a lost with what should i need to do before she gets her license suspended . thank you for any help you can send my way..

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2016 #

      Hello Paul,

      You would want to speak to your insurance company directly regarding this situation. There are a lot of factors that could come into play. Unfortunately, the DMV would advise what options you have to avoid the suspension of her license and/or the SR22.

  10. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    christy
    April 11, 2016 #

    Hello, I was involved in an accident. I was driving a car thats not mine and even though the car had insurance I wasnt in the policy and my license was suspended. I went to the DMV and I was told I could get the suspension removed only if I'm not excluded from the policy.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2016 #

      Hello Christy,

      We would suggest providing proof that you have your own coverage. If you do not own your own vehicle, you may be able to obtain a non-owners policy from a local agency. You would want to verify this would be sufficient with the DMV first. Regarding the policy that covered the vehicle you were driving, you would want to speak to that company directly to discuss your options.

      Thanks for reading.

  11. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    jerry godwin
    April 12, 2016 #

    I got a dui in north carolina and they dont require a sr22. I am in north dakota now a ready to get my license back. Will i need a sr22..

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 13, 2016 #

      Hello Jerry,

      We suggest discussing that with the state of ND DMV. Once they let you know if you need it, you would be able to notify your insurance company when you change your coverage to a North Dakota policy.

      Thanks for reading.

  12. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Cindy Garner
    April 23, 2016 #

    I had a accident back I 2009 I had no insurance I went to prison am out now but the insurance company has a hold on my license see o I can't renew them can I get a sr22

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 25, 2016 #

      Hi Cindy,

      In general, the local DMV would be able to advise you of ways to get your license back. Unfortunately, we would not be able to provide any assistance in this situation as the DMV is the one who would require your SR22.

      Thanks for reading.

  13. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    lindsay galeas
    April 23, 2016 #

    I ALREADY HAVE SR22 DO I NEED TO GET LIABILITY INSURANCE ON MY CAR ALSO? I LIVE IN ILLINOIS

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 25, 2016 #

      Hello Lindsay,

      In general, you would need to make sure your car is covered and listed on an insurance policy. We suggest speaking to your insurance agent for more details.

      Thanks for reading.

  14. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Christopher coleman
    April 25, 2016 #

    Hi I'm Chris in 5 years I have second pending DUI..my license has been off 3 months already I need it to work! What can I accpect timewise options ? Pls help .ty

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      April 25, 2016 #

      Hi Christopher,

      We would suggest speaking to your attorney to see what they can do to help you get a work permit.

      Thanks for reading.

  15. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Amanda
    April 26, 2016 #

    Hello. In 2011 I owned a vehicle that was in an accident. I was not involved in that accident. My car was uninsured at the time. I had a clean driving record (no tickets, no dui's, no accidents), and they suspended my license and told me I need an SR22 to get it reinstated. I am currently living halfway across the country, and it has been suspended for 5years now. Do I still need an SR22? Can I get an SR22 in the current state which I reside?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello Amanda,

      You would need to discuss this with both state’s DMVs to see what they would require. Once you’ve spoken to them, your insurance company can then discuss what your best options for coverage would be.

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