Question: My license is suspended. I’ve been told that to reinstate it, I need to get insurance and file an SR-22 form. I am wondering how to get an SR-22 without a valid license? It seems like a Catch-22 in that I can’t reinstate my license without insurance and to get insurance I need a valid license.
Answer: While auto insurance companies normally require you to have a valid driver’s license in order to obtain a car insurance policy, they do make exceptions because there are situations when getting the license is dependent upon having insurance.
Car insurance companies that file SR-22s are aware that many times the state must receive this certificate of financial responsibility before a license will be reinstated. For this reason, they will allow you to start up your policy and give you time to get your license reinstated.
Typically, car insurance companies will allow you up to 30 days to provide them proof that you now have a valid license. If you fail to get your license reinstated within the given time frame, then your car insurance policy will be canceled. You would then have to start the process over by obtaining a new auto insurance policy and having a new SR-22 filed so that you can try again to get your license reinstated within the given time.
So, while it seems strange, you should get your car insurance policy in place first.
Make sure the insurer knows you need the SR-22 and files it for you. Many states have insurers file electronically now, so the SR-22 is processed quickly.
Next, go to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get your license reinstated. You should confirm with your car insurance company after the reinstatement that they have received in the information showing your license is now valid, or else your policy and SR-22 may cancel out, which would result in your license being suspended again.
If your car insurance policy cancels out during the required SR-22 period (normally three years in most states), your car insurance company will file a SR-26 that shows the cancellation, and this signals the DMV you are without the required auto insurance coverage, so your driving privileges are taken away until everything is back in place.
When you get a quote with CarInsurance.com, answer "yes" when asked “Does this driver require a financial responsibility filing?”
There are insurance companies that will allow you to obtain an SR-22 as long as you get your driver's license reinstated within 30 days of your insurance policy's inception date, or as long as you acquire a hardship driver's license within that same time frame. The SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility does not give you the right to drive on a suspended license but is typically something you must obtain in order to get your license reinstated or at least get a hardship license until you can regain your full driving privileges.
Driving with a suspended license usually comes with severe penalties so we would advise against doing that. Instead, try getting your license reinstated, which may include getting insurance and a SR-22 filed by your agent for you. A hardship license can be obtained in many states if you cannot get your full license privileges back yet. Remember, a hardship or occupational driver's license typically only allows you to commute between home and work.
Can I still get a motorcycle license if my driver's license has been suspended? After my driver's license has been re-instated, do I have to get SR-22 insurance?
State laws differ in regard to whether a person with a suspended driver's license can get a motorcycle license. Some states will allow you to have a motorcycle license while others will not allow it while your main driving privileges are suspended. States, such as Maine, have the motorcycle license as an addendum to your regular automobile license so it would be unlikely that you would be able to get it without a valid driver's license.
As for the SR-22, some states require an SR-22 when a license is reinstated while others will not. You will need to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV should also be able to help you find out if you can get a motorcycle license while your driver's license is under suspension.
Do I need an SR-22 if I received a DWI? I had full coverage insurance when I got the ticket. Also, do I need this for an essential needs license?
This may vary from state to state. But, in general, you will need an SR-22 if you failed to comply with your state's financial responsibility law at the time of your DWI. "Full coverage" is a term drivers often use to refer to physical damage coverage. Physical damage coverage consists of collision and comprehensive coverage. (Generally, collision insurance covers damage to your car caused by a collision with another object. Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your automobile from vandalism, theft, flooding and hail and animal strikes. And, most lien-holders require physical damage coverage if you are financing or leasing your vehicle.) Chances are your state will be looking to see if you were covered for certain limits of bodily injury liability and property damage liability at the time of your DWI. An "essential needs" license is typically called a "hardship" or "right to work" license. Again, this may vary from state to state. But, in general, if you need a "hardship" license, you will need a SR-22.