Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) Requirements in Texas
A common question that eventually comes up after a person is arrested for a DWI in Texas is how long that person will have to keep an SR-22 Insurance Certificate on their vehicle. An SR-22 Insurance Certificate is a form that is issued by a liability insurance company in Texas that is kept on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety. These certificates may be required for a number of reasons, but one of the most common ways a person might need a “Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate” or an SR-22 Certificate is if they have been arrested for a DWI. This article focuses on the ways an SR-22 Certificate might be required after a DWI arrest and the duration the Certificate must be maintained under each of those circumstances.
Occupational License-Based SR-22 Certificates
When a person provides a specimen showing their Blood Alcohol Concentration was above .08, their driver’s license will be suspended for a period of 90 days. When a person refuses to provide a specimen voluntarily, their license will be suspended for a period of 180 days. These suspensions are not based on convictions and are instead based on the refusal or the failure of the test. Neither of these events on their own create a requirement for an SR-22 certificate.
However, most people in this situation end up seeking and procuring an Occupational License. A pre- or post-conviction occupational license will require an SR-22 Certificate for the term of the occupational license. It will be a condition of the Occupational License that the person maintain an SR-22 certificate with DPS. The duration of the SR-22 certificate will be based on the duration of the need for an occupational license. For example, if a person needs an Occupational License for 180 days, they will need to have the SR-22 Certificate on file with DPS for at least six months.
Conviction-Based SR-22 Certificates
If a person is sentenced to a jail sentence as a result of a DWI, their Driver License will be suspended. As a result of that conviction-based suspension, Texas Administrative Code Rule 25.6 (d)(2) requires the individual carry have an SR-22 certificate on file for a period of two years. (This also applies when the Driver License is suspended due to a drug conviction.)
Texas Administrative Code Rule 25.6 (d) also provides other instances where a person might have to have an SR-22 Certificate:
1) where a security deposit is required for compliance in a crash case, and
2) based on a judgment from a court. (This is not an exclusive list.)
Notice that the SR-22 Certificate in not an insurance policy. It merely certifies that you have at least the minimum level of coverage required by the State and the certificate provider will notify DPS if you policy expires, lapses or is canceled.
For an extremely detailed description of SR-22 Certificates, read this article from Jay Freeman, the owner of conceptSR22.com and a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.