Financial responsibility (SR-22)
All drivers in Washington state must maintain automobile insurance as a condition of driving a car, truck, or other personal motor vehicle within the state. If a driver has been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, the state will revoke that person’s license for a period of time established by law. The state may also revoke a driver’s license after a conviction of DUI or another driving-related offense. As a condition of reinstating a license or issuing a restricted license during a criminal case, the state may require proof of financial responsibility. If you have been arrested for or charged with an alleged DUI offense, you should contact a Washington criminal defense attorney immediately in order to meet your obligation and protect your rights.
Financial Responsibility (SR-22)
Drivers may be required to present proof of financial responsibility in order to reinstate their license or obtain a temporary license after a DUI, involvement in an accident, or failure to pay a judgment for damages caused in an automobile accident. An SR-22 certificate is an auto insurance policy endorsement, available from many insurance carriers, stating that the policy holder meets financial responsibility guidelines set by state law. A driver must usually have liability limits for bodily injury of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 for property damage. The driver must carry the SR-22 endorsement for at least thirty-six months.
A driver can avoid the SR-22 obligation in two ways: by depositing $60,000 in cash or securities with the state treasurer, and presenting a certificate of deposit to the Department of Licensing; or by obtaining a $60,000 liability bond from a surety or bonding company.
Failure to Pay Damages and the Financial Responsibility Law
In the event of an automobile accident involving an uninsured driver and at least $700 in property damage, or bodily injury of any kind, Washington law requires proof of financial responsibility for damages if there is a reasonable chance of a court judgment. A driver who lacks insurance for themselves or their vehicle could face license suspension if they are involved in an accident meeting the above criteria. If the accident involved alleged DUI, this license suspension applies in addition to other administrative procedures. In order to reinstate a license, the state requires proof of insurance in effect at the time of the accident; proof of financial responsibility, such as an SR-22; waivers of liability or settlements from all parties to the accident; or a civil court judgment finding the driver not liable.
Failure to Pay Damages and Unsatisfied Court Judgments
If a driver is found liable for an auto accident in a civil trial, the driver must pay the judgment within thirty days. Otherwise, the state may suspend the driver’s license for up to ten years, with the option to extend the suspension another ten years. Reinstatement is possible if the driver provides proof of financial responsibility, pays the judgment in full, makes payment arrangements, or provides proof that the judgment was vacated.
A Washington criminal defense lawyer with experience in Washington’s criminal justice system can help you with your DUI case, license suspension, and administrative issues related to your case. Timothy L. Healy has more than fifteen years of experience representing DUI defendants in Tacoma, Pierce County, and the rest of Washington state. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093.