So you’ve gotten a DWI. Now the judge says you need to file for an SR-22 with your insurance company. What does that mean? Where do you start? Now you’re convinced you’ll have to spend forever filling out forms and waiting in line at the DMV. Before you get overwhelmed with these numbers and forms, here’s a quick guide for what you need to know:

1) What is an SR-22?

An SR-22 form is a filed certificate that shows you are insured and financially responsible in the event of another traffic violation or accident. It is attached to your insurance policy, but it is NOT insurance itself. The DMV needs this as an endorsement from your insurance company to show that you can drive with financial responsibility.

2) How do I know if I need one?

Filing for the SR-22 is most often required after a DWI or other types of major traffic violations, such as careless or imprudent driving (CNI). If you need one, the courts will let you know, or the DMV will contact you. At that point, just contact your insurance agent and they’ll take care of everything with you.

3) How long do I have to have an SR-22?

Typically, an SR-22 requirement lasts for one to three years (in rare cases, it can be longer). The DMV has your case number on file with a required duration. Once this time limit runs out, you no longer need the SR-22 form on your insurance policy.

4) What happens if I need to cancel my insurance, or my policy expires?

If your coverage ends while the SR-22 is still required, you must inform the DMV. This could mean that your driving privileges are suspended until you get covered again. The state needs to see that you’ll be liable for any future driving incidents, and the SR-22 is your insurance company’s promise that you’re covered.

5) How much is this going to cost me?

You might think that having the SR-22 attached to your coverage policy is going to cost you every month, but there is only a one-time fee for processing the form. Even if your time requirement is three years or longer, you’ll only have to pay a one-time filing fee for the SR-22: there’s the silver lining.

An SR-22 may feel like just one more burden weighing down on you following a DWI. But remember—it’s temporary, it’s easy to understand, and your insurance agent can help you with every step along the way.