Safety and Financial Responsibility Law
The Illinois Safety and Financial Responsibility Law applies to all traffic accidents resulting in personal injury, death or property damage in excess of $500. Within 10 days after an accident occurs, a motorist is required by law to file an accident report with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). After investigation, IDOT certifies to the Secretary of State's office the names of uninsured motorists involved in the accident.
If the evidence supports probable liability (at least 50 percent at fault) on the part of the person or persons certified as uninsured and the accident involves property damage in excess of $500, personal injury, or death, the Secretary of State's office notifies the motorist that his/her driver's license and/or vehicle registration is suspended.
To contest the suspension, the motorist receiving the suspension notice must write a request to schedule a hearing at a Driver Services facility to contest the preliminary finding of probable liability. All parties involved are notified of the hearing and are encouraged to attend. If the preliminary finding is upheld, the individual(s) certified must show evidence of compliance with the Safety Responsibility Law, or face the pending suspension of his/her driver's license and/or registration privileges.
The motorist license/registration remains suspended until compliance is met. In addition, the motorist must establish proof of financial responsibility, through a SR-22 insurance policy. The SR-22 must be maintained for a period of three years (except in cases of evidence of non-liability, or IDOT rescinding).
The Safety Responsibility Law offers several ways to return one's license or registration to good standing. However, if the uninsured motorist and/or vehicle owner does not meet one of the following methods of compliance before the suspension goes into effect, he/she will be required to carry the SR-22 insurance policy for a period of three years. All Safety Responsibility suspensions require a $70 reinstatement fee.
- Installment Agreement — The two parties involved agree to allow the uninsured motorist to pay the damages by installment. Both parties must sign the Installment Agreement. If for any reason the motorist making payments defaults, the person who suffered damages may notify the Secretary of State's office in writing and the uninsured motorist will be suspended again. In 1999, the law was amended to accept a second installment agreement following a default if both parties agree to its issuance. (625 ILCS 5/7-208)
- Release or Covenant Not to Sue — Agreement signed by the person suffering damages releases the uninsured motorist of liability. These papers must be notarized or witnessed, and may not be conditional. (625 ILCS 5/7-207)
- Security Deposit — Involves depositing money for the amount of damages certified by the Illinois Department of Transportation. By depositing security, the person who suffered damages must file suit in civil court to receive restitution. If a suit is not filed within two years from the date of the suspension, the Security Deposit will be refunded to the uninsured motorist upon receipt of an Affidavit for Refund. Security also may be accepted by surety bond, issued by an authorized bonding company. (625 ILCS 5/7- 204) Additional details on the Security Deposit process may be obtained in the Claiming a Security Deposit brochure.
- Affidavit for Termination of Suspension — Available after two years from the date of suspension (or date of the default if an installment agreement has been signed). If the person who suffered damages has not sued the uninsured motorist during this two-year period, the suspension may be terminated. (625 ILCS 5/7-211.2)
- Rescind (Proof of Insurance) — If the individual suspended had insurance at the time of the accident, a letter from the home office of the insurance company including this information should be mailed to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Upon review and acceptance, the suspension will be deleted. If more than four years from the date of the accident, the letter should be directed to the Secretary of State's office. In these cases SR-22 insurance is not required. No reinstatement fees are required when accidents are rescinded. No reinstatement fees are required when accidents are rescinded. (625 ILCS 5/7-202a.1)
- Bankruptcy — Documentation from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court will release the uninsured motorist from liability as well as clear the suspension (not accepted in alcohol-related cases, per the U.S. Bankruptcy Code 11 USC 523, item 9).(625 ILCS 5/7-211.3)
- Evidence of Non-Liability — Documentation from a court of law indicating that the uninsured motorist is not liable. The document must be file-stamped or certified by the court. Evidence of non-liability removes the requirement for proof of financial responsibility as well as the reinstatement fee requirement. (625 ILCS 5/7-211.3)
- Chapter XIII Wage-Earner Plan — Chapter XIII is from the bankruptcy court. It states that money will be deducted from the uninsured motorist's wages to be applied toward the damages. (625 ILCS 5/7-211.3)
- On-line — Safety and Financial Responsibility Reinstatement fees can be paid on-line using the Driver's License Reinstatement Fee application.
- In person — visit one of the following locations:
- Chicago Public Service Center, 17 N. State, 10th Flr., Chicago, IL 60602
- 2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy., Springfield, IL 62723
- By Mail — mail the appropriate fee and proof of insurance to:
- Office of the Secretary of State
Safety & Financial Responsibility Section
2701 S. Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62723
- Office of the Secretary of State
- By Phone — using a credit or debit card. Call 217-782-3720 Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Damages Caused by an Uninsured Motorist
The Secretary of State's office may suspend driving privileges as the result of an Unsatisfied Judgment from a civil court. Under this procedure, the person who suffered damages from the uninsured crash takes action in court, and the uninsured motorist is ordered to satisfy the judgment. If the judgment remains unsatisfied (unpaid) for thirty days, the court orders the Secretary of State's office to suspend the individual's driver's license/registration. Upon receipt of an Unsatisfied Judgment, the Secretary of State's Safety and Financial Responsibility Section enters a suspension (Type Action 06) on the driving record of the defendant. The suspension remains in effect until the requirements set forth by the court are met. If the judgment is for $500 or more, Financial Responsibility Insurance (SR-22) must be filed with our office and maintained for three years.
Methods of Compliance for Unsatisfied Judgment
Most of the methods of compliance require the filing of SR-22 insurance, which must be maintained for three years. Cancellation of the insurance will result in a driver's license suspension.Unsatisfied Judgment Suspensions require a $70 reinstatement fee. The methods of compliance for Unsatisfied Judgment include:
- Installment Order — A court order allowing the uninsured motorists to pay the judgment by installments. The order must be certified or file-stamped by the court in the county of jurisdiction and submitted to the Secretary of State's office. (625 ILCS 5/7-312)
- Satisfaction of Judgment — A court document that states the judgment has been paid in full. The document must be certified by the court or file stamped. This type of document also is sent after an installment order has been satisfied (625 ILCS 5/7-311)
- Bankruptcy — After the proper documentation has been received from a bankruptcy court, the Secretary of State's office will stop any action against the individual (not accepted in alcohol-related cases, per the U.S. Bankruptcy Code 11 USC 523, item 9). (625 ILCS 5/7-310)
- Chapter XIII Wage-Earner Plan — Court documents that state money will be deducted from the uninsured motorist's wages and applied toward the damages resulting from the crash. (625 ILCS 5/7-310)
- Court Order for Non-renewal of Judgment (Dormant Judgment Certification in Accordance with Section 7-309 of the Safety and Financial Responsibility Law) — A certified or file-stamped court order showing that the case has not been renewed within seven years from the entry date of the judgment. (625 ILCS 5/7-309)
- Vacating Order — Upon receipt of a certified or file-stamped vacating order to remove the unsatisfied judgment suspension, the suspension will be deleted from the individual's driving record and financial responsibility will not be required. No reinstatement fee is required. (625 ILCS 5/7-309)