If you are pulled over for DWI while driving on an expired S-22, you could end up with two problems – DWI and driving without a valid SR-22. If your insurance coverage has also expired, you may also face penalties for driving without insurance. In this case, the assistance of an experienced Houston criminal lawyer might turn out to be indispensable.
What is an SR-22?
The SR-22, or Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate, is a document issued by an insurance company and filed with the Texas state government that constitutes proof that a driver has complied with Texas requirements on minimum auto liability insurance coverage ($30,000 per injured victim, $60,000 in personal injury damages per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident).
Not all Texas drivers are required to carry an SR-22. A Texas court will order a driver to obtain an SR-22 for a two-year period if his driver’s licensed has been suspended or revoked for the following reasons:
- DWI or DUI charges
- Multiple moving violations
- Driving while uninsured
- Causing a serious injury accident
As an SR-22 driver, you must keep your SR-22 certificate current, because an ordinary “proof of insurance” card issued by an insurance company will not be enough to prove that you are properly insured under Texas law.
Expiration of an SR-22
Your insurance company will automatically notify the Texas Department of Public Safety when you cease to be covered by a minimum liability insurance policy (if your coverage was cancelled for failure to pay your premiums on time, for example). Failure to maintain a valid SR-22 is an offense that is independent of the offense of driving without insurance – you can be cited for failing to maintain a valid SR-22 even if you are properly insured.
Penalties for Driving Without a Valid SR-22 in Texas
If you are caught driving with an expired SR-22, your driver’s license and vehicle registration will be suspended until you obtain a valid SR-22, have it presented to the Texas Department of Public Safety by your insurance company, and pay a reinstatement fee. The clock on your two-year SR-22 period will be set back to zero, meaning that you will have to carry an SR-22 for another two years starting on the date of your driver’s license reinstatement.
Driving without Insurance
If, in addition to driving on an expired S-22, you are found to be driving without sufficient liability insurance coverage, you will be subject to the following penalties:
- First offense: A fine of $175 to $350 (this fine can be reduced for hardship)
- Second offense: A fine of $350 to $1,000 plus a $250 surcharge for three years, impoundment of your vehicle for 180 days (with a $15 per day impoundment fee), and suspension of your license and registration until a valid SR-22 is presented.
Effect of a DWI Conviction
A first-offense Texas DWI results in the following penalties:
- Jail time of 3 to 180 days
- A fine of up to $2,000 (more if a child under 15 was in the car)
- A driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year
A second-offense Texas DWI (within your entire lifetime) results in the following penalties:
- Jail time of 30 days to one year
- A fine of up to $4,000 (more of a child under 15 was in the car)
- Driver’s license suspension of 180 days to two years
- Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
A third-offense DWI is a felony punishable by up to 190 years in prison.
Mario Madrid is a principled, aggressive Houston DWI lawyer who has been honored as a specialist in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a member of the National College of DUI Defense Attorneys, and his nearly 20 years of practice history includes experience as both a prosecutor and a judge. If you need help defending yourself against DWI and SR-22 charges in the Houston area, call Madrid Law, PLLC at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation.