Financial Responsibility Laws

FINANCIAL RESPONSIBLITY LAWS

When a driver has his or her license suspended or revoked at the hands of the department of licensing through the “administrative suspension/revocation” process or by virtue of a conviction for DUI, the law requires that proof of “financial responsibility” be filed with the department of licensing before the license will be reinstated. In fact, proof of financial responsibility must be on file at the department licensing even before and occupational license will be considered by the department licensing.

The requirement of filing proof of financial responsibility extends for three years. This requirement is one of the harshest economic consequence of being arrested for DUI. While most people have heard that the DUI conviction (or department of licensing administrative revocation/suspension) results in “high-risk” insurance, in fact the law does not require that insurance be “high-risk.” High risk insurance is, rather, an economic reality of the insurance industry. As a general rule, a DUI conviction/suspension will result in either a great increase in the insurance rates, or the requirement of “high-risk” insurance.

The requirement to prove “financial responsibility” is most often satisfied by having an insurance company file a “SR 22” form with the department of licensing on behalf of the insured. However, this is not the only way to provide proof of financial responsibility. Under RCW 46.29.450, there are four alternate methods of filing proof of financial responsibility:

  1. A certificate of insurance as provided in RCW 46.29.460 or 46.29.470;
  2. A bond as provided in RCW 46.29.520;
  3. A certificate of deposit of money or securities as provided in RCW 46.29.550;
  4. A certificate of self-insurance, as provided in RCW 46.29.630, supplemented by an agreement by the self-insurer that, with respect to accidents occurring while the certificate is in force, he will pay the same amounts that an insurer would have been obliged to pay under an owner’s motor vehicle liability policy if it had issued such a policy to said self-insurer.

The law regarding proof of financial responsibility is complex, as are most of Washington’s DUI laws. A selection of the most pertinent laws relating to financial responsibility is listed below:

RCW 46.29.260 — Meaning of “Proof of Financial Responsibility For The Future.”

The term “proof of financial responsibility for the future” as used in this chapter means: Proof of ability to respond in damages for liability, on account of accidents occurring subsequent to the effective date of said proof, arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a vehicle of a type subject to registration under the laws of this state, in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident, and, subject to said limit for one person, in the amount of fifty thousand dollars because of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident, and in the amount of ten thousand dollars because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident. Wherever used in this chapter the terms “proof of financial responsibility” or “proof” shall be synonymous with the term “proof of financial responsibility for the future.”

RCW 46.29.280 — Suspension Continues Until Proof Furnished

Whenever, under any law of this state, the license of any person is suspended or revoked by reason of a conviction, forfeiture of bail, or finding that a traffic infraction has been committed, the suspension or revocation hereinbefore required shall remain in effect and the department shall not issue to such person any new or renewal of license until permitted under the motor vehicle laws of this state, and not then unless and until such person shall give and thereafter maintain proof of financial responsibility for the future. Upon receiving notice of the termination or cancellation of proof of financial responsibility for the future, the department shall resuspend or rerevoke the person’s driving privilege until the person again gives and thereafter maintains proof of financial responsibility for the future.

RCW 46.29.450 — Alternate Methods of Giving Proof

Proof of financial responsibility when required under this chapter, with respect to such a vehicle or with respect to a person who is not the owner of such a vehicle, may be given by filing:

  1. A certificate of insurance as provided in RCW 46.29.460 or 46.29.470;
  2. A bond as provided in RCW 46.29.520;
  3. A certificate of deposit of money or securities as provided in RCW 46.29.550;
  4. A certificate of self-insurance, as provided in RCW 46.29.630, supplemented by an agreement by the self-insurer that, with respect to accidents occurring while the certificate is in force, he will pay the same amounts that an insurer would have been obliged to pay under an owner’s motor vehicle liability policy if it had issued such a policy to said self-insurer.

RCW 46.29.520 — Bond As Proof

Proof of financial responsibility may be evidenced by the bond of a surety company duly authorized to transact business within this state, or a bond with at least two individual sureties each owning real estate within this state, and together having equities equal in value to at least twice the amount of the bond, which real estate shall be scheduled in the bond approved by a judge of the superior court, which said bond shall be conditioned for payment of the amounts specified in RCW 46.29.260. Such bond shall be filed with the department and shall not be cancellable except after ten days written notice to the department.

RCW 46.29.550 — Money Or Securities As Proof

Proof of financial responsibility may be evidenced by the certificate of the state treasurer that the person named therein has deposited with him sixty thousand dollars in cash, or securities such as may legally be purchased by savings banks or for trust funds of a market value of sixty thousand dollars. The state treasurer shall not accept any such deposit and issue a certificate therefor and the department shall not accept such certificate unless accompanied by evidence that there are no unsatisfied judgments of any character against the depositor in the county where the depositor resides.

RCW 46.29.570 — Owner May Give Proof For Others

The owner of a motor vehicle may give proof of financial responsibility on behalf of his employee or a member of his immediate family or household in lieu of the furnishing of proof by any said person. The furnishing of such proof shall permit such person to operate only a motor vehicle covered by such proof. The department shall endorse appropriate restrictions on the license held by such person, or may issue a new license containing such restrictions.