A DUI or DWI is a serious offense in the state of Texas. Drunk driving cases not only affect public safety but bring significant financial responsibility. This is why auto insurance is so crucial. The purchasing of an insurance policy can provide a sense of security to both the victim involved and the convicted driver. When a DUI or DWI occurs, the convicted driver can see his or her insurance rates increase by a significant percentage.
After a DUI/DWI occurs, there will be immediate punishment. The first repercussion will be a suspension of one's driver's license. Most suspensions are 30 days or even longer. For an individual to get his or her driver's license back and re-earn driving privileges, the state of Texas may require a form called SR-22 to be filled out.
What is an SR-22 Form?
According to the Texas Department of Safety, it is a form that serves as "proof of state monitored liability insurance." In essence, a SR-22 confirms that a convicted individual has a policy that meets state minimum insurance requirements.
An SR-22 can result in even greater financial responsibility for the convicted driver. Receiving a DUI or DWI charge can have lasting implications and will be on one's criminal record for at least 10 years. Every citizen is entitled to a fair and impartial trial in the United States.
Sparks Law Firm has an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys ready to serve and help clients fight their DUI/DWI convictions and resulting legal challenges. A free consultation is immediately offered upon initial contact.
The below information is provided for those who have or know a loved one who received a DUI conviction in Fort Worth or surrounding areas. Please read carefully for SR-22 specifics and details.
Texas Insurance Regulations
State Minimum Insurance Requirements and Car Insurance
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, "Texas law requires you to have at least $30,000 of coverage for injuries per person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 of coverage for property damage. This is called 30/60/25 coverage."
This liability coverage is mandatory. An SR-22 demonstrates to the Texas Government that an individual who has DUI/DWI conviction has the minimum coverage set by law. It is ordered because convicted DUI/DWI holders have proven themselves high-risk drivers in the eyes of the state. Therefore, they must prove they have proper car insurance before they are able to reinstate their driver's license and are legally allowed to operate a vehicle again.
Texas Is an Auto Insurance At-Fault State
Texas is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. This simply means whoever is responsible for the accident is additionally responsible for providing compensation to the innocent party. In most circumstances, it is the individual's insurance company that pays such expenses. Not all DUIs cause accidents, but some do.
Texas's legislature articulates that it uses a modified comparative fault system in determining fault. Essentially, each driver involved in an accident is given a percentage of fault based on their role in the accident. The higher one's percentage of fault is, the less compensation he or she can receive.
To illustrate, if Joseph was determined to be 20% at fault, and the other driver was determined to be 80% at fault, Joseph would only be able to receive 80% of the compensation rewarded.
Therefore, if Judge Matthews rewarded Joseph with $75,000, he would only receive $60,000. Joseph's 20% of fault was deducted from the overall compensation ordered by the Court.
According to Texas legislation, if an individual's degree of fault is determined to be 51% or higher, said individual cannot claim any compensation.
How Long is an SR-22 Necessary after a DUI?
According to the Texas Department of Safety, one "must maintain a valid SR-22 for two years from the date of [their] most recent conviction, or the date that a judgment has been rendered against [them]."
Additional punishments will be ordered if the convicted individual does not comply including revoking one's driving privileges for an extensive period of time.
SR-22 Case Exceptions
If an individual who obtained a DUI/DWI charge did have a legally acceptable automobile insurance policy at the time of the conviction, an SR-22 will not be required.
The Texas DPS has articulated that the individual's "insurance company can submit a letter on company letterhead via fax/email/mail stating that [the convicted individual] did indeed have insurance on the date in question."
How Much Does an SR-22 Cost?
Filing an SR-22 form requires a one-time fee. Contingent on the insurance company selected, the fee will range from $15 up to $25. According to MoneyGeek, "on average, minimum coverage SR-22 car insurance in Texas costs $988 per year when an SR-22 is filed due to a DUI."
SR-22 insurance rates can be over $3,000. After the two required years of holding SR-22 insurance, one's auto insurance rates will go back to normal.
State Fair's SR-22 package is approximately $1,205 per year, while Allstate's DR-22 insurance policy will cost $3,196 per year. Each insurance company offers its own benefits and perks.
How To Submit an SR-22 Form
Filling out and submitting an SR-22 form is a straightforward and easy process. A convicted individual with a DUI or DWI charge will submit an SR-22 through the Texas DPS.
The first step would be for the individual to contact an auto insurance provider of choice or discuss applying for an SR-22 with his or her current auto insurance provider. There are companies that do not offer an SR-22 insurance policy, therefore it is imperative to confirm with the provider that they offer SR-22 services.
Once the individual successfully applies for an SR-22 form to be filled out by his or her insurance company, he or she will need to pay a one-time fee determined by each individual company.
Additionally, the state of Texas requires a license reinstatement fee. Reinstatement fees are usually $100 for a DWI conviction.
After the insurance provider fills out SR-22, the convicted individual must have the provider send the form to him or her or submit the form to the Texas DPS on his or her behalf.
If an individual chooses to have the auto insurance carrier send the form to the Texas DPS this will cost a small additional fee. Proof of SR-22 insurance is mandatory.
How Long Does It Take to Process an SR-22 Form?
According to the state's Department of Public Safety, processing an SR-22 "may take up to 21 business days." Processing could be sooner.
Financial Responsibility Associated with DUIs and DWIs
As highlighted above, there can be even more significant financial responsibility if a drunk driver causes an accident or crash. A DWI is expensive without an accident and can ruin someone's driving record as a safety responsibility has been breached.
This person will become recognized as a high-risk driver. When an accident is involved causing bodily injury, this makes the situation far worse. A DWI arrest associated with an accident can result in long prison sentences.
Damages the victim can claim include property damage coverage, medical bill expenses, loss of income, and in the worst possible scenario, funeral costs. If the expenses exceed insurance coverage, the negligent driver may be forced to pay the remaining costs out of pocket. This will be at the discretion of the court.
Why Sparks Law Firm?
When an individual is convicted of a DUI or DWI, it is imperative that said individual speaks to a criminal defense attorney. Aggressive and proactive representation is of the essence. Sparks Law Firm's team of experienced lawyers can provide just that. They can help address various questions and concerns, such as how long it takes to get DUI blood test results. They can also provide guidance with regard to what a DUI evaluation is.
What makes Sparks Law Firm a great choice? Respect is at the core of the firm's philosophy. Every Sparks attorney team member will treat clients with respect, care, and compassion. Clients will be viewed as a valued partner, rather than just another case number.
Proactivity is the mindset that drives the Sparks Law Firm team each day. Its attorneys will work incredibly hard to serve their clients and represent them. It is important to always be one step ahead and get the job done!
A focus on proactivity does not compromise quality. Only the highest quality research and preparation will occur when a Sparks Law Firm attorney is working on a case.
Teamwork is not only encouraged at Sparks Law Firm but a key part of developing defense strategies. Every case accepted by the firm will be handled by at least two team attorneys. Unified collaboration can result in a stronger and more compelling argument.
The Sparks Law Firm proudly serves the Fort Worth community and surrounding areas. If one has or knows a loved one who has a DUI or DWI charge and wishes to speak to the best DWI attorney in Fort Worth TX, the Sparks Law Firm law offices can be contacted at (817) 381-7846. Receive a free consultation today!