What is SR-22 and Why Do I Need it to Keep my Driver’s License?

What is SR-22 and Why Do I Need it to Keep my Driver's License

You have received a notice from the Illinois Secretary of State stating that you must file SR-22 within 90 days. You may ask yourself, why am I getting this letter? What is SR-22? How do I get that? What do I do now? We will try and answer some of these questions for you.

SR-22 basically is proof filed by your insurance company directly with the Illinois Secretary of State which verifies that you are meeting Illinois’s minimum auto insurance requirements.

Sometimes, people refer to it as "SR-22 Insurance." An SR-22 is not actually its own insurance policy though, as it is simply a document or electronic transmission provided by your insurance company to the Secretary of State which demonstrates that you actually have liability insurance coverage on your car. It’s not insurance. It’s proof of insurance.

Who Needs SR-22?

Not every driver needs SR-22. In Illinois, those required to maintain SR-22 include the following individuals:

  • Motorists who have received court supervision for a mandatory insurance offense under section 3-707 of the Illinois Vehicle Code
  • Individuals who received three or more convictions for mandatory insurance violations
  • Individuals with unsatisfied judgement suspensions
  • A driver who has had their license revoked and wishes to have their driving privileges reinstated

Y’know that Santa Claus guy? Basically, when the Secretary of State tells you that you need to get SR22, it means you’re on the “naughty list” for a while. It means that something came to their attention that makes them want to keep an eye on you so they can be sure that you’re insured and stay insured. They’re mostly concerned that you’ll cause damage or injury to another driver and won’t be able to compensate them. After a while, they’ll drop this requirement and things will get back to normal. But it’s important to know that as long as you stay in compliance, you won’t lose your license for that reason.

How Does it Work?

When you receive a sentence on a qualifying offense (or have an accident without insurance), the court, police or the other person’s insurance company will report the violation to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will then send you a letter informing you of the SR-22 requirement. After you receive this notice, you will have 90 days to file the SR-22. If you do not, your driver’s license will be suspended until you comply with the law.

It is important that the address displayed on your driver’s license (and on file with the DMV) be up to date, or you may not receive important notices from the Secretary of State. That’s because mail sent from the DMV does not get forwarded – it gets returned right back to the Secretary of State.

How Do I Get SR-22?

To comply with SR-22 requirement, you’ll need to:

  1. Contact your current auto insurance company and ask them to add this extra service to your policy. Some companies won’t do SR-22, but most will. Some companies will charge you a little extra for this service (it’s really not a lot of extra effort on their part as it’s usually just an automatically generated transmittal to the Secretary of State each month), while other companies won’t charge anything extra.
  2. If you don’t presently have any auto insurance, then you’ll need to call around and when you do, make sure that you ask whether they’ll send in SR-22 proof as part of your policy. If they won’t, call some other companies.

When the Secretary of State accepts the SR-22, you will generally receive a letter from the Secretary of State confirming that your SR-22 was properly filed and that how long you’ll need to keep it up.

Do I Need SR22 if I’m From Another State?

Out-of-state residents may request that their proof of financial responsibility for Illinois be waived by completing an Out of State Affidavit Financial Responsibility Insurance Waiver. The affidavit applies only to Illinois' insurance requirements, so you still must follow the applicable law in whichever State you actually reside in. In the event that you move back to Illinois within three years from acceptance of the insurance waiver, your SR-22 requirement for Illinois will be reinstated and you’ll need to still comply.

How Long Do You Need to Keep SR-22?

Generally, you must keep an SR-22 on file with the Illinois Secretary of State for three years. If you fail to do so, or if your insurance premium gets cancelled, then your driver’s license will become re-suspended. This suspension then cannot be rescinded until another SR-22 is filed.

If I Don't Own a Car, Do I Still Need to File SR-22?

If the Secretary of State notifies you that you are required to file a SR-22, and you don't own a car, but plan to drive a borrowed or rental car, you are still required to have an SR-22 certificate and an auto insurance policy, because if you drive and get into an accident, you could still be held liable for personal injury or property damage claims. Non-owner insurance policies with SR-22 are available, so that any car you touch is insured even if it’s not yours. Contact an insurance agent for additional information.

Moreover, if your license is suspended for an insurance related violation or revoked, you will be required to get owners or non-owners SR-22 in order to reinstate your driving privileges, whether or not you own a vehicle or plan to drive.

Are There Any Alternatives to Filing an SR-22?

As an alternative to SR-22 insurance, a motorist may deposit $70,000 in cash or securities with the Illinois State Treasurer. You can also file a surety bond, or a real estate bond approved by an Illinois Court. (Most people just get SR-22 instead as it’s much easier and less expensive).

If you have been charged with a traffic violation or criminal matter, or you have received a notice from the Illinois Secretary of State suspending or revoking your privilege to drive in Illinois, give Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC a call at (312) 644-0444 for a free consultation.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner and Cleveland A. Tyson Jr. Last Updated : June 11, 2024