Failure to pay accident damages: Financial Responsibility Law

What is the Financial Responsibility Law?

Washington's financial responsibility law requires uninsured drivers and vehicle owners to be responsible for collision damages if there is a reasonable possibility that a court will make a judgment against them. The law applies only to collisions that meet all of the following conditions:

  • There was damage to any one person's property of at least $1000, or any bodily injury.
  • A driver involved in the collision was uninsured.
  • There is a reasonable possibility that a court judgment would be filed against the uninsured driver or vehicle owner.

Why was my license suspended?

You were an uninsured driver or the owner of an uninsured vehicle that was involved in a collision that met all 3 of the conditions listed above.

How can I prevent my license from being suspended?

To prevent your license from being suspended, give us one of the following within the 60 days before the suspension goes into effect:

  • Proof that the driver or the vehicle had insurance in effect at the time of the collision.
  • A signed release from everyone involved in the collision indicating they won't hold you responsible for damages resulting from the collision.
  • A copy of a written agreement with everyone seeking reimbursement for damages. The agreement must include the settlement amount and must be signed by everyone making the agreement.
  • Proof that security in the amount of damages from the collision has been deposited. This option also requires you to give us proof of financial responsibility for the future, usually with a SR-22 Insurance Certificate.
  • A certified copy of a civil court decision showing that you weren't liable for claims.

What happens when my license is suspended?

  • You can't drive as long as your license is suspended.
  • You can't apply for a driver license or instruction permit as long as your license is suspended
  • Any Washington license or instruction permit you currently have is no longer valid. You must take it to any driver licensing office or mail it to:
  • Driver Records
    Department of Licensing
    PO Box 9030
    Olympia WA 98507-9030

What if I don't have a Washington driver license?

During this suspension:

  • You may not apply for a Washington driver license.
  • You may not drive in Washington with a license from another state or province.

How long will my license be suspended?

The suspension remains in effect for 3 years from the collision date.

Can I get a restricted license?

You may be eligible for an Occupational/Restricted License during this suspension.

Can I contest or appeal the suspension?

You may request a hearing within 20 days from the date on your suspension letter. The suspension letter we sent to you includes a form to request an appeal of the suspension. For more information, see How to request a hearing.

What will be considered during my appeal?

The Hearings Officer will consider the following:

  • Whether you were the driver or the owner of the vehicle.
  • Whether the accident resulted in property damage of more than $1000 or personal injury.
  • Whether an exception listed in RCW 46.29.080 applies.
  • Whether there is a reasonable possibility that a civil court judgment could be entered against you, and whether you have deposited enough security to satisfy such a judgment.

For more information about appealing or contesting your suspension, please see Hearings.

How can I get my license back?

You can reinstate your license at any time by complying with any of the options listed in the "How can I prevent my license from being suspended?" section above. Contact us for specific information about reinstating your license.

Note: Remember to keep your address current with us so we can notify you of any changes to your driving status. Submit a Washington Driver License/ID Card Change of Address form within 10 days of moving.

Get step-by-step instructions

There may be other issues you'll need to take care of to get your license back. To find out what you need to do, see Learn how to reinstate your license.

Related laws

RCW 46.29: Financial responsibility

Related information

Questions? Need help?

Call us: 360.902.3900 (TTY: Call 711)

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