Most drivers are probably going to make a mistake from time to time. We strive not to, but sometimes, we slip up. When we do, we could face various legal penalties. These might run the gamut from tickets to license suspensions and SR-22 penalties. Unfortunately, all these penalties might cause your insurance rates to jump. Particularly, if you get an SR-22, you'll more likely see negative policy effects. Why is this? What kind of penalties trigger the SR-22?
To insurance companies, the best drivers are the ones who do not have a lot of marks on their records. An SR-22 is a surefire way of proving you are a risky driver. Thus, keeping one off your record is a positive situation for you in many ways.
Understanding The SR-22
SR-22s are simply forms that prove that you have an active car insurance policy. Yet, not every driver has to carry an SR-22. The form is a penalty. States impose the form to compel high-risk drivers to carry car insurance. While it is generally the law for drivers to carry a policy in your state anyway, the SR-22 is an added reinforcement.
What causes you to have to get an SR-22? Depending on where you live, the triggers vary. However, they share the common factor that they are all significant driving infractions. They might include:
- Driving without insurance
- Driving on a suspended or expired license
- DUI/DWI offenses
- Multiple moving violations, such as speeding tickets
- Severe at-fault accidents
Simply put, if your actions behind the wheel show that you cannot drive safely, then you might get an SR-22. It will likely remain on your driving record for a couple of years. You must keep your policy active for the duration of the penalty period. If you ever let your coverage lapse, you'll likely face significant penalties.
It is much less of a hassle to simply not get an SR-22. Let's look at how you can avoid the common triggers of the penalty.
Driving Without Insurance
The SR-22 forces you to carry auto insurance. So, it is easy to understand why failing to carry a policy in the first place might force you to get an SR-22. To avoid this outcome, it's best to get covered as soon as you buy a car.
Almost every state requires you to carry minimum levels of insurance. Most require liability insurance. This coverage protects other parties in the event your actions cause harm to them. Other states will require such protection options as uninsured/underinsured coverage, or medical payments insurance. Always get at least the minimum state requirements. However, consider upgrading your coverage to include higher limits and more protection.
Driving with A Suspended License
Drivers licenses expire. The authorities also have the authority to revoke your license, should you commit a serious driving offense. So, if you ever drive without an active license, then you might face the consequences. SR-22 penalties will often become active as soon as you can return to the road.
DUI Or DWI Offenses
As far as reckless driving goes, DUI and DWI charges are among the most dangerous instances. If you drive drunk (or otherwise impaired), you cannot operate a vehicle safely. You create significant security risks for everyone around you. It stands to reason, given the circumstances, that an SR-22 might result.
Avoiding DUI charges doesn't have to be hard. You simply shouldn't drink and drive. Take public transportation, ride with a designated driver or make other travel arrangements. If you have even had one drink, carefully consider whether you feel safe behind the wheel. Do not risk putting yourself and others in danger.
Frequent Moving Violations
No one really wants to get a speeding ticket or similar charge. These infractions are usually relatively minor and don't impact you forever. Yet, they sometimes can cause your auto insurance rates to rise. So, the more infractions you accumulate, the higher your likelihood of receiving an SR-22 might prove. By committing frequent offenses, you'll show that you are a risk to others. Therefore, you often should do everything possible to follow the rules of the road. Review your local driver's handbook and driving laws for more information.
Severe At-Fault Accidents
An at-fault accident is one that is deemed your fault. For example, if you run a red light and hit another car, the authorities might hold you responsible. You might, in effect, show that you have significant operating risks behind you. Thus, the SR-22 will exist to protect not only you, but also others on the road. In effect, it will force you to honor your duty to others in case a problem occurs.
The simplest ways to avoid SR-22s are to follow the rules of the road. Don't speed, keep your license and registration and always carry car insurance. 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.