It goes without saying: it’s never a good idea to drive drunk. The results can be catastrophic for you, your passengers, and anyone else on the road with you. Even if tragedy is averted, you will feel the effects of a DUI conviction for years to come. You may lose your license, pay significant fines, or even go to jail. What’s more, your ability to drive encompasses many freedoms we often take for granted. Getting to work. Picking up your kids from soccer practice. Going out to see a movie or joining your family for a holiday dinner.
Similarly, it’s also unwise to drive without a valid driver’s license or car insurance. You may think you’re saving money on insurance premiums or license renewal fees, but if you get caught, you’ll find yourself paying more for insurance—if you can even find a company to insure you. In Massachusetts, your insurance costs are likely to double. If your license is revoked, you’ll also pay a hefty fee to get it reinstated.
One of the unfortunate results of being convicted of a serious driving offense is that you may need to file an SR22. While commonly referred to as SR22 insurance, holding an SR 22 certificate actually only means that you’re meeting the minimum insurance requirements to drive in your state. In and of itself, it is not car insurance and offers no financial protection in the event of an accident.
If there’s a ray of sunshine in all of this, it’s that Massachusetts does not require you to file an SR22 if you hold a Massachusetts license and your driving infraction happens in state. Problems arise when your accident happens out of state, if you are applying for a Massachusetts license after losing your license elsewhere or if you are convicted in Massachusetts and subsequently seek a driver’s license out of state. Massachusetts, like most states, requires that you carry an SR22 certificate for three years following revocation of your license.
While the cost of filing an SR22 is not exorbitant — $15 to $35 on average — having an SR22 certificate probably means you will have to carry more insurance than you did before. You’ll also pay more for the same amount of coverage. For example, if you didn’t previously carry collision insurance on your vehicle, filing an SR22 may require you to do so. Even if you don’t own a car, you may be required to purchase a non-owner’s insurance policy if you borrow someone else’s car. You may have to pay a full year’s premium at once; installment payment plans may not be available to you.
Once you are required to carry an SR22, buying insurance becomes less convenient, because high-risk policies typically can’t be researched or purchased online. You will have to deal directly with an agent by phone or in person. As with any insurance purchase, it makes sense to research rates among insurance carriers and inquire about any discounts that may apply to you. Good student and senior citizen discounts can potentially take some of the sting out of your new, higher risk driving status.
Bear in mind that when you file an SR22 certificate, your insurance company is required by law to notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles if you let your insurance lapse. They will issue an SR66 certificate nullifying your SR22. The RMV will in turn will automatically revoke your license. Remember, your SR‐22 is not valid if you fail to pay your insurance premiums.
Because Massachusetts isn’t technically an SR22 state, many insurance agents don’t understand the rules surrounding them. They may be reluctant to file one for you, though legally they must if you request one. If you need help understanding SR22 requirements or defending against driving-related criminal charges, call Oberhauser Law now. Defense Attorney Greg Oberhauser offers free consultations to help you determine what your best options are.