If you have ever been convicted of driving without liability insurance in Texas you will have a conviction for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (FMFR) on your driving record. It doesn’t matter how you got the conviction, whether because you plead guilty or no contest to the charge or lost at trial after pleading not guilty. This particular conviction is serious business and carries significant ramifications against your ability to drive. The State of Texas lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, decided many years ago to punish people for FMFR convictions. Their hope and goal was to “encourage” people to get insurance and maintain it because we all know what happens when uninsured persons cause accidents with damages (everyone’s insurance rates goes up).
One serious consequence of FMFR convictions is laid out in the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act in the Texas Transportation Code. An FMFR conviction can result in the suspension of driving privileges, indefinitely. This particular type of suspension is called a Safety Responsibility (SR) Suspension and continues forever unless and until the suspended holder takes affirmative action to resolve the suspension. To remove the suspension, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) requires the affected person to file and maintain SR-22 insurance for 2 years or provide verifiable proof that the person had liability insurance on the offense date. For reference purposes, here is the Texas statute:
Sec. 601.231. SUSPENSION OF DRIVER'S LICENSE AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION. (a) If a person is convicted of an offense under Section 601.191 and a prior conviction of that person under that section has been reported to the department by a magistrate or the judge or clerk of a court, the department shall suspend the driver's license and vehicle registrations of the person unless the person files and maintains evidence of financial responsibility with the department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction. (b) The department may waive the requirement of maintaining evidence of financial responsibility under Subsection (a) if satisfactory evidence is filed with the department showing that at the time of arrest the person was in compliance with the financial responsibility requirement of Section 601.051 or was exempt from that section under Section 601.007 or 601.052(a)(3).
SR-22 insurance is often referred to as “high risk” insurance but it is truly nothing more than prepaid verified insurance. It is special because the insurance company must communicate the status, whether current or not, with (DPS) directly. Proof that you had insurance from the offense date is sufficient but more difficult to prove because if it was valid, it would, or at least should, have been provided prior and not resulted in the suspension. On a side note, we recently attended a driver’s license suspension hearing where our client had an SR suspension and proof that her insurance was valid on the offense date. The DPS representative at the hearing did not believe that providing proof of insurance from the offense date was sufficient to lift the SR suspension. We showed where it was acceptable from DPS’s own rules and regulations and she maintained that she was never trained to accept that type of proof for SR suspensions. Now, if DPS does not know or train its agents to follow its own rules, what do you think your chances are of winning against them in court? I am just saying!
Call our office to discuss your license eligibility and any suspension issues you may have. The consultation is free.