Jay Freeman

Jay Freeman is a licensed Texas insurance agent with over 40 years of experience, specializing in the issuance and placement of the Texas SR-22. He is the owner of ConceptSR22.com and Accurate Concept Insurance in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his insurance career, he is also an accredited Texas State Bar Sponsor and regularly presents CLE courses for Criminal Defense Groups and Bar Associations around the state. Jay is a proud member of Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, DUI Defense Lawyers Association, Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

News from the Trenches: SR-22 Requirement Confusion

Hello, my name is Jay Freeman. In addition to being a proud affiliate member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, I have spent the last 40 years or so of my life as an insurance agent specializing in the issuance of the Texas SR-22. As a practice, my agency makes it a point to personally speak to every SR-22 client in order to answer any questions they might have. This often puts us in a unique position to identify procedural changes before they become common knowledge. Recently, we have begun to see a greatly enhanced enforcement by the Texas Department of Public Safety of a requirement that has been around for at least 16 years, but was rarely enforced in the past.

If you have a client who has been convicted of a driving-while-license-is-invalid charge, a driving-while-intoxicated charge, or a drug-possession charge, they are required to maintain an SR-22 for two years from the date of the conviction or their driver’s license will be administratively suspended. The authority for this requirement can be found at 37 Texas Administrative Code, § 25.6 (d)(2)(2004). This requirement is mentioned in the Order of Suspension Letter that the Texas Department of Public Safety mails to the client, in addition to being published on the TDPS website and in their Frequently Asked Questions document.

Although this two-year requirement has been around since at least 2004, in the past it was seldom enforced (and then primarily on drug or DWLI cases). Recently there has been a spike in enforcement of this requirement in DWI cases, so it would be prudent to advise your client of its existence and suggest that they maintain the SR-22 for the two years following conviction. In the past, if TDPS determined that a driver was not in compliance with a requirement needed to maintain their driving privileges, they would send the driver a warning letter giving them 21 days to meet that requirement. None of the people we have spoken with have received a warning letter, so apparently that procedure has changed. It now seems that if the Texas Department of Public Safety determines that your client does not have an SR-22 on file, they will immediately suspend the license without any additional notice to your client. My personal suspicion is that this is occurring because if the client’s driver’s license is suspended, they will be required to pay another reinstatement fee to the department before they can legally drive.

Sadly, the lucky people discover that their driver’s license has been suspended while doing something like registering their vehicle or renewing their license. The unfortunate ones find out about the suspension when they get pulled over for some other reason and suddenly find themselves facing an entirely new set of problems ranging from arrest, impoundment, possible revocation of probation, or a driving-while-license-is-invalid charge (which would start the whole two-year requirement all over again).

While the wording in the Administrative Code seems a bit confusing, there is absolutely no confusion as to the intent on the TDPS website or their FAQ page. The information is, however, quite difficult to find–it has been moved three times in just the last few years. From the TDPS homepage, you must first click on the Driver License tab on the left side of the page. Under the Driver Information & Resources section on this page, there is a column titled Suspensions & Reinstatements. There, you click on the Suspension Notifications link. Under the paragraph titled Suspensions & Withdrawals, there are three tabs labeled:

  • Driving While License is Invalid (DWLI) Suspension
  • Alcohol-Related Offences
  • Drug-Related Offences

Each of these three links contain exactly the same wording:

Obtain a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) from an authorized insurance company (an SR-22 must be maintained for two years from the date of conviction).

All of these tabs also contain links to the Frequently Asked Questions page, where this requirement is covered in Section 9.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect to this situation is that it appears that many of the clerks at TDPS are completely unaware of this requirement. I have personally had a clerk argue with me that this requirement does not exist even after I explained that it is clearly stated on the TDPS website. I have also had several clients tell me that a DPS clerk advised them to cancel their SR-22 because it was no longer required after they reinstated their driver’s license, even though they were still within the two-year window on their conviction. I believe that part of this confusion is due to the way a driver’s status is displayed on the DPS website. For example, if a driver is required to maintain an SR-22 and has the form on file with DPS, the website will show that there are no requirements (while it should show that the requirement has been met). This leads the driver to the false conclusion that they have met all areas of compliance, so they cancel the SR-22. But then the requirement pops back up on their status again and their license is suspended. If your client’s license is suspended solely under this requirement, they will not need to obtain another Occupational Driver license; they will be able to reinstate their license by filing the SR-22 and paying any required fees to the department.

Because very few people at the Department of Public Safety seem to be aware that this situation is even occurring, it is impossible at this point to determine how many drivers are being affected. What I can say with complete confidence is this: Two years ago we very rarely dealt with clients needing an SR-22 to meet this two-year requirement, while today we are seeing it on a weekly (if not daily) basis. And we are only one of the many SR-22 providers in Texas. My fear is that somewhere in the future, DPS might follow the same path in these cases as they did a few years ago with those people convicted in drug-possession cases. They contacted those who had received and pled to traffic violations during the period of suspension following their drug conviction and assessed the surcharges and penalties for DWLI.

In conclusion, my suggestion at this point is to at least make your clients aware of this requirement and explain to them the seriousness of a DWLI charge. One of the common statements we hear from our SR-22 clients in this situation is: “Why didn’t my attorney warn me about this?”

Author’s Note:

While on the subject of SR-22s, I recently wrote an article titled “A Consumer’s Guide to the Texas SR-22.” This is not an advertisement for myself or my company; it is simply a guide to assist those clients in need of an SR-22 and give them the tools to make the proper decisions for their unique circumstance. The guide is divided into five parts:

  • What is a Texas SR-22 and why do I need it?
  • Should I tell my insurance company about the SR-22?
  • I don’t want to get the SR-22 from my company, now what do I do?
  • Will my insurance company know about the SR-22?
  • Should I get the SR-22 through the State Pool?

Many of my friends have made this guide part of their client packets and if you would like to see it, I will be happy to send you a copy. Just drop me a line to and I’ll get one to you.

Five Things You Need to Know About the Texas SR-22 (A Peek Behind the Insurance Curtains)

In addition to being a proud member of Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, I am also a Texas insurance agent who has specialized in the issuance of the Texas SR-22 form for over 30 years. As I speak to groups around the state, it seems I hear the same questions over and again regarding the impact an SR-22 can have on your clients and their families’ automobile insurance. Therefore, I hope you will allow me this opportunity to share some information from an insurance agent’s perspective that might be of benefit to you and your clients.

Let me begin by addressing the actual SR-22 form itself. A Texas SR-22 (or Financial Responsibility Form) is actually an endorsement that is attached to an insurance policy; this is why your client cannot just purchase the form by itself—it is actually part of the policy to which it is attached. The way I usually explain the SR-22 to clients is to describe it as a tool used by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that transfers responsibility of monitoring the policy status to the insurance company that issued the SR-22.

The State of Texas requires that an SR-22 be filed for many different reasons, such as:

  • multiple no-insurance tickets,
  • an occupational or essential needs driver’s license,
  • an unpaid judgment for a liability claim,
  • convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drug-related offenses,
  • excessive violations,
  • just to name a few . . .

When an SR-22 is issued and filed with DPS, this action obligates the insurance company that issued the SR-22 to constantly monitor the status of the policy to which the SR-22 is attached and notify DPS of any changes in that policy’s status. The SR-22 itself has an effective date but no expiration date. It is good until the issuing company notifies DPS that the policy has terminated (however DPS does require that the insuring company submit an updated copy of the SR-22 every two years). When the policy is terminated, the issuing company submits another form called the SR-26, which cancels the SR-22.

(1) Not every insurance company will issue an SR-22

Even though DPS advises people to obtain the SR-22 from their insurance carrier, many insurance companies consider the SR-22 to be “high-risk” and will initially refuse to issue the form. If the client tries to force the issue, this action will usually flag the policy for non-renewal—and seldom results in the client receiving the SR-22 within a timely period. You see, the Texas personal automobile policy contains a provision that allows a company to cancel a policy if the license of a driver is suspended or revoked. Many insurance companies simply delay the SR-22 until the license status shows “suspended” and then cancel the policy. In addition, even the companies that will issue the SR-22 typically move the family’s business into their “high-risk” side of companies upon renewal, and it will normally take several years to earn their way back to better rates.

(2) The SR-22 impacts all drivers and vehicles listed on the policy

Although the problem might lie with the child who got into trouble while away at college, the ramifications of the SR-22 affect all drivers and vehicles listed on the policy. Because a single driver cannot be rated using a different set of underwriting guidelines in a single policy, all drivers and vehicles are forced into the “high-risk” policy. Although it is possible to separate a single driver onto another policy, this is often impractical because it restricts who is covered to drive which family vehicles. In addition, most insurance companies offer generous multi-lines discounts, so a problem with a family’s automobile insurance can also result in large premium increases in other insurance policies like their homeowners insurance.

(3) If your client elects to obtain the SR-22 from an outside source, the SR-22 must be written on a non-owners/operators policy

This is absolutely the most important advice you can give your client regarding their SR-22. In order to avoid the problems listed above, many clients elect to obtain the SR-22 from a secondary source. This is often a very good idea, but without your guidance they could find themselves making a mistake that could be financially devastating. Most people will just go to the first insurance agency they see advertising SR-22s and ask to purchase one as inexpensively as possible. This agency will typically issue a liability-only policy on whatever vehicle your client happens to be driving that day. The problem is that your client has now automatically terminated his current insurance coverage on that vehicle without even knowing it.

The problem lies in the Texas Personal Auto Policy, specifically in the Termination Section of Part F: General Provision. Under this section, Rule C reads as follows:

AUTOMATIC TERMINATION—“If at any time, you obtain other insurance on your insured auto, any similar insurance provided by this policy will terminate as to that auto on the effective date of the other insurance.”

This dilemma can be easily overcome by simply advising your client to obtain the SR-22 by purchasing an operator’s policy (also commonly referred to as a non-owner’s policy). This type of policy solves the problem because it insures only the client as a driver and does not provide duplicate coverage on a specific vehicle. Therefore it completely avoids the automatic termination rule in the Texas Personal Auto Policy.

(4) Your client’s primary carrier will not necessarily discover the SR-22 or any subsequent conviction

Your client has absolutely no requirement or obligation to notify their insurance company of any changes to their driving record or the need for an SR-22 filing. It is the responsibility of the insurance company to determine if there are any factors that might impact the premium, and as a matter of business, many insurance companies do not normally perform an in-depth underwriting review prior to offering to renew a client’s policy. Due to the substantial cost of performing these reviews (consider that a driving record costs a company around $10 per insured, then multiply that by the number of people insured by any given company and one can imagine the expense), many insurance companies rely on a client’s claims history to determine premium changes. It often occurs that many convictions are never discovered.

(5) Advise your client to avoid obtaining the SR-22 thru the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association

Because of a lack of experience in dealing with the Texas SR-22, some insurance agents will attempt to provide the form by selling your client a non-owners policy written thru the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA)—commonly referred to as the “state pool.” This path creates its own set of problems for both you and your client. First, an SR-22 is not issued by the agent. An application with a request for the SR-22 is submitted to TAIPA in Austin. TAIPA issues an SR-22, which is sent directly to DPS and the policy is assigned to a company admitted to write automobile insurance in Texas. Once that company receives the assignment, they are charged with producing the policy documents (including the SR-22) and mailing those documents to the client. As you can imagine, it might be weeks if not months before your client actually receives the SR-22.

I’m sure you can foresee the problems this can cause in providing an occupational driver’s license (ODL). Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a voluntary relationship as far as the assigned company is concerned. They are being forced to provide this coverage for your client. Therefore, many of these companies are actively looking for a reason to cancel your client’s policy, which can easily be found in your client’s license status. Even though your client has a valid ODL, his driver’s license status at DPS will show as suspended. Since the assigned company is not required to provide insurance for a driver with a suspended license, they can simply cancel the policy and remove themselves from the risk. This can launch the client into a vicious circle of continuously replacing the SR-22 in order to keep the ODL in force.

In closing, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share, and I hope you will find this information helpful while assisting your clients in solving their driving privilege problems.