Mandatory Insurance Laws in Illinois – Part 2

If you did not read part 1, you can find that information here.

What Will Happen to me in Court?

woman looking at scratch on side of car

Typically, if this is your first instance of this traffic offense, our legal team will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor and

get you just a small fine and a sentence of supervision, which will not act to suspend your driver’s license and you’ll still retain full driving privileges. If you’ve been caught before for such a violation and it appears on your driving abstract, the prosecutor and Judge may not be as forgiving though and negotiations may be more difficult. That’s because the whole purpose of the Illinois mandatory insurance requirement law is that the State wants to make sure that everyone is insured, from Chicago (Cook County) to Wheaton (DuPage County) to Waukegan (Lake County) and all other counties as well, so that if you’re ever in an accident (whether it involves personal injury or just property damage), there will be a responsible party who will pay your bills and make you whole. Sometimes, car accidents are very minor and involve very small monetary damages, but other times, deaths and serious injuries occur that can change lives. Having insurance can help those affected get on with their lives as quickly as possible.

The Secretary of State just assumes that everyone is obeying the law, until it comes to their attention otherwise.  This is because it’s just too hard and expensive for them to keep track of everyone and their insurance companies. There’s nothing against the law about changing your insurance company every week, so keeping track is just plain too hard for the State of Illinois. But once it comes to their attention that you’ve violated the law, you’re then going to be on their radar.

How Does the Secretary of State Monitor Whether You Have Insurance?

When the DMV has learned that you got caught driving with no insurance, they need to monitor you in some way for a while.  Typically, this will be for a period of three years. As long as they can be sure that you’re abiding by the law for a period of time, then they’ll leave you alone and not bother checking up on you again, unless and until you get in trouble once more.  The manner by which they do this “checking up” is called SR22 Insurance. SR22 stands for “Safety Responsibility” form number 22. It’s the name of the form that they use. Perhaps you’ve seen signs that say “SR22 here” in windows of insurance stores.

When you pay for SR22, you’re asking your insurance company to send a transmittal (usually via internet or email) to the DMV approximately every month that basically tells the DMV “yes, he or she still has insurance”.  As long as the DMV get this transmittal each month, everything will be fine and your license won’t get suspended.  The DMV doesn’t care which insurance company is sending this to them, so if it’s a different company each month it makes no difference. But if one month the DMV doesn’t get such a notice, then watch out, because the DMV will automatically assume that you’re now uninsured and they’ll suspend your license until you get insurance again.  If that happens, you’ll also need to pay a reinstatement fee to make your license valid again. SR22 isn’t really a different kind of insurance than what people normally have; it’s really just an added extra onto your policy where you pay the company a little extra money (or sometimes nothing additional at all) to do a little extra work and send a transmittal each month.

If I Keep SR22 in Place, Will my License Stay Valid?

If the Secretary of State asks for you to obtain SR22 and you do as you were asked, thereby keeping the policy in force for the period of time that they require, then this will avoid a no insurance suspension (called a safety suspension) of your license. But be aware that drivers can have multiple suspensions and revocations for different things all at the same time, so just because you avoid this type of suspension doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be legal to drive.  It’s always best to have an experienced traffic attorney examine your “Court Purposes Driving Abstract” first.

The Illinois Secretary of State May be Notified After an Accident

Sometimes, a driver will just get a no insurance ticket after being pulled over. But other times, a car accident may also be involved. When this happens, a number of other suspension problems may result as well. Remember, a driver may have literally dozens of license suspensions or revocations all at the same time. So just because you later satisfy the DMV to prove that you now have insurance by getting SR22 doesn’t mean that your driving privileges will now be valid.  There may be other problems that need to be fixed first also.

The most common other insurance related suspension occurs when the injured or damaged party (whether it’s the other driver, their insurance company or their lawyer) tells the Illinois Department of Transportation or Secretary of State that they were involved in an accident with a person who wasn’t insured (you).  If this happens, the DMV will suspend your license. If this happens to you, there are only a few ways for you to get this license suspension (called an “04 Suspension”) lifted which include:

  • Security Deposit – This involves posting (paying) the entire dollar amount of the accident damages to the other party with the Secretary of State.  They will hold onto it and contact the other party.  If the other party claims it, they get it.  If they don’t, you get it back after a while.  What are the chances the other party doesn’t want to pick up their money? Obviously not very high, so when you choose this option, you should expect to lose your money.
  • Installment Agreement – You can work out an installment agreement with the other party and then begin to pay it. With the proper paperwork filed with the Secretary of State, this can release your license.
  • Full Release – If the proper paperwork showing that the other party has granted you a full release from liability is filed, that will work as well.  Generally, you get this when you’ve paid the other party the total amount agreed in full.
  • Proof of Insurance – If you actually did have insurance in place at the time of the accident, a proper letter from your insurance company can fix this suspension.
  • Bankruptcy – There are two types of bankruptcy that can release this suspension.  One type allows you to pay nothing and is called a Chapter 7.  This will work as long as the accident was not DUI or alcohol related.  The other type, called a Chapter 13, has you slowly paying the other party over time and will work as well.
  • Evidence of Non-Liability – Official documentation from a court proving that the accident was not your fault can release the license suspension.
  • Affidavit – On many cases, depending on how long ago the suspension was put into place, and whether a lawsuit has been filed, our offices have fixed many accident driving suspensions by filing the proper paperwork. When this is done, there is no need to pay the other party at all.

A Suspension May Occur if You Are Sued and Suffer a Judgement

In some circumstances, the other party may file an actual lawsuit against you to collect money damages from you. Once this happens, the matter will be fought out in court.  If you win and the Judge decides that you were not at fault, proof of this can be filed with the Secretary of State which should fix your suspension.  But if you lose, or if you fail to appear in court and a “default” is entered against you, this is called a “judgement”, which means that the other party can now begin to collect their money from you. If they notify the DMV of this, the DMV will enter what is called an “06 Suspension” against you.  If this happens to you, there are only a few ways for you to get this license suspension lifted which include:

  • Bankruptcy, full release, or installment agreement, just as explained previously above
  • Docket Sheet Filing – Once a judgement has been entered against you, it is good for a certain period of years. Once that period of time has expired, it’s possible for the opposing lawyer to renew that judgement for another period of time to allow them to continue collecting their judgement against you.  But if they fail to do so in a timely manner, the judgement “dies”.  Our attorneys can determine if the judgement has died and if so, can file the proper paperwork with the DMV to release your license suspension.  When we do this, you shouldn’t be required to pay for the judgement.

Call our Knowledgeable Traffic Legal Team 24 Hours a Day

If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, call us anytime of day or night to arrange a free consultation.  Our experienced attorneys can determine whether your license can be reinstated and the best way to accomplish your goals. Since 1990, the criminal and traffic legal team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC has been helping people fix and keep their driver’s licenses so that they can remain productive members of the community.  Call us 24/7 at (800) 996-4824 to arrange a free initial consultation or to discuss your situation free of charge.

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