A California SR22 form helps verify that you’ve adhered to the state’s terms for obtaining auto liability insurance. While this form is usually obtained when you need to have your driver’s license reinstated, a copy should be forwarded to the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). DUI lawyers from Vista DUI Attorney can help ease the process of obtaining SR22 forms for clients across North Country through our Vista-based office. This guide explains everything you should know about SR22 forms.

When Do You Need a California SR22 Form?

A California SR22 form acts as an insurance certificate, which your car insurance company submits to the DMV to ascertain that you met the minimum state requirements for car insurance liability coverage. The certification is necessary when you want your driving privileges reinstated or want to continue driving a motor vehicle with an IID (ignition interlock device) installed. The DMV considers this form as proof auto insurance liability when you're required to prove your financial responsibility.

Various events may increase the need for having your driver’s license reinstated. They include license revocation/suspension due to a DUI conviction or license revocation/suspension for being a negligent operator. The DMV may declare you if your driving record has too many points within a particular time frame. Such events can require you to have your insurance company file an SR22 with the DMV for up to three years.

Your insurance policy should cover all cars you routinely drive or vehicles registered under your name if the DMV asks you to maintain an SR22 form. You won't have to get the SR22 form if the judgment of your DUI conviction prohibits you from driving. The DMV mandates you to apply for a non-owner's policy if you currently don't own a car, but you have frequent access to a relative's car. The non-owner's policy offers you coverage as long as you have permission to operate someone else's car.

Are There Any Consequences of Driving a Car With a Suspended License?

Your auto insurer won’t be liable for any damages caused if you’re involved in an accident driving with a suspended license. DMV may have your car impounded as a punitive measure. You may also be summoned to a DMV or court hearing for your actions.

Can a California SR22 Form Help You Acquire a Restricted License?

A DUI conviction in California can result in probation, which mandates you to meet certain obligations as ordered by the court. The court might order you to enroll in and complete a program offered in a California DUI school. Besides probation, a DUI conviction can result in penalties such as license revocation/suspension ranging from six months to four years. With your license suspended/revoked, the DMV will either offer you a regular restricted license or an IID restricted license.

  1. Regular Restricted License

    The California DMV issues DUI offenders a restricted license after a specified number of days following their license suspension. With this kind of license, you'll only be able to/from school, work, home or DUII school. The DMV issues first-time DUI offenders a restricted license restricted when they attend a DUI school, file an SR22 form and pay a restriction fee ($15) and a reissue fee ($125).

    For any subsequent DUI conviction, you'll get the license if you enroll in a DUI school and have an IID installed in your vehicle. You must also promise not to operate any vehicle without an IID. The DMV expects you to file an SR22 form and pay a $125 reissue fee and a $15 restriction fee. You wouldn't qualify for a restricted license if you refused to take a breath or chemical blood test once arrested for violating Vehicle Code 23152(a) (driving under the influence).

    You have an option of asking your insurer to file a California SR22 immediately after your arrest. Make such a request when you're sure that you'll plead guilty following your DUI arrest. You may have your license quickly reinstated if you initiate the filing process. Seek a DUI attorney's help to speed up the process of restoring your license.

  2. IID Restricted License

    With an IID restricted license, you can drive your vehicle to any location after having your license suspended. However, you'll have to get an IID installed by a state-approved installer. The DMV also expects you to file an SR22 form to have this privilege granted to you under California Senate Bill 1046.

What’s the California Law on Reporting Car Insurance Information?

Vehicle Code 16058 mandates car insurers to electronically report the insurance information of private-use vehicles to the DMV. This law exempts the insurers from reporting insurance information on cars covered by business or commercial insurance policies. The changes in electronic reporting and programming of insurance information took effect back in 2006. They allow the DMV to track car insurance policies and give suspensions or revocations as required by VC 16058.

Vehicle Code 16058(2) highlights that the California DMV has the jurisdiction to set alternative procedures for establishing proof of financial responsibilities. Such procedures will allow for timely renewal of vehicle registration documents. The DMV also has the mandate to develop regulations for documenting insurance information, approving the methods for reporting the information and setting acceptable timeframes.

What Other Documents are Needed When Proving Financial Responsibility to the California DMV?

Besides a California Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR22), here are other documents that the DMV will need as evidence of financial responsibility.

  • Identification card from your auto insurer

  • An authorization letter from the DMV if you’re self-insured or you’re a cash depositor

  • A REG 5085 (Notification of Alternative Forms of Financial Responsibility) form for a car covered by business or commercial policies and being registered to the DMV for the first time

  • Evidence that you own or have a lease on the vehicle

  • A REG 256 (Statement of Facts) form that you have proof of insurance on your file with the DMV

What Does the Process for Obtaining a California SR22 Involve?

The first step to obtaining a California SR22 involves contacting your auto insurance company. Expect the insurer to evaluate your DMV record as a way of finding out your reasons for needing the form. The company may decide to either issue you the certificate or cancel your policy. Your rates are also likely to increase if you obtain the document from your current insurer.

Choosing a Licensed SR22 Insurance Provider in California

You have various options at your disposal if you don’t want to obtain the SR22 form from your current insurer. Car insurers are supposed to be licensed and compliant with the California Vehicle Codes. DMV allows you to have the SR22 form issued by a company other than your present insurance provider. Choose an insurer that’s diligent and reputable for helping clients with cases like yours.

Seek the insurance policy from an insurer that’s licensed by the California Department of Insurance. You can even look up details about an insurance broker or agent via DIA’s official website. If you’re considering dual insurance policies, notify each insurance provider that’s serving you.

Choose an insurance agent or broker that handles SR22 filings regularly. Such an agent/broker can have multiple options for getting your SR22 form filed with the California DMV efficiently. Always remember that an SR22 filing isn't a type of insurance; instead it's a form that proves to the DMV that you're sufficiently insured. With a DUI charge on your record, look for auto insurance agencies that cater to high-risk clients.

Note that not all car insurers offer SR22 coverage. You'll have to seek help from another insurance company if your current company denies your request. The new insurance provider may consider you as a "high-risk driver" and charge you high premiums. Insurance companies consider your DUI conviction, driving history, driving experience, age, the area of residence and marital status when setting your premium.

Consider insuring a car that doesn’t require coverage for physical damage to reduce the total costs of high-risk insurance. Strive to keep your auto insurance policy to a minimal amount to save lots of cash while you’re still in the “high-risk driver” category. Selling your car and getting another one won’t have any effect on your driving record. Be patient as you wait for your vehicle registration to be reinstated.

The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan

The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) is a statute focused on drivers that are unable to get SR22 forms on their own. The California legislature established CAARP back in 1947 to offer automobile liability insurance to motorists who are unable to obtain such insurance via ordinary methods. The assigned risk plan should be a last resort to drivers looking for car insurance.

The Assigned Risk Plan works as a program for connecting motorists who can’t get car insurance with insurance companies. If this case applies to you, the program will report your financial responsibility filings with the DMV. Instead of acting as an insurance company, the assigned risk plan recommends rates through its Advisory Committee and have them approved by the California Department of Insurance.

Insurance companies that participate in the CAARP have a legal obligation to offer assistance. Once you apply, you and other applicants will be divided among the companies depending on the market share each company has in California. For instance, an insurer that serves 5 percent of vehicles in California will serve 5 percent of all applicants in the CAARP.

Points to Keep in Mind When Obtaining the Form

Obtaining a California SR22 form can take up to 30 days. You'll only get the certificate once you make the required payments. You won't regain your driving privileges until the DMV receives and reviews your document. During the reviewing period, your license status will appear as pending on DMV's database.

You Need to keep the SR22 form with you at all times once you receive it. Your insurer has the mandate to alert the DMV about your compliance with California’s fiscal responsibility laws. Have the certificate in your vehicle at all times since law enforcement officers may ask you to present it when pulled over or arrested for a DUI charge.

In case of an expired coverage, the DMV will suspend your license. Your insurer is mandated to alert the DMV about the expiration. The DMV may consider your inability to renew the insurance as an offense. You’ll have your license suspended for failing to have your insurance policy renewed at least fifteen days before it expired as stated under the California SR22 insurance requirements.

Is it Wise to Notify DMV Before Canceling Your Insurance?

You risk having your vehicle registration suspended if you fail to notify DMV that you want to cancel your car insurance. DMV will mandate you to file a REG 5090 (Affidavit of Non-Use) form if you're not driving your currently registered car and it's not on California soil. Submitting this form will lead to your car insurance being canceled. You may request DMV to place your vehicle on planned non-operational status or else pay the renewal fees if the car isn't still in use when the renewal charges are due.

How Long Can You Maintain Your California SR22 Status?

Following a license suspension associated with a DUI conviction, you must maintain your SR22 status for at least three years. The DMV won't require you to re-file the form each year provided you don't cancel it, and your insurer doesn't drop you as a client. Your insurer must report to the DMV that you were dropped or you canceled your policy.

Failing to pay your premiums will prompt the car insurer to notify the DMV that your SR22 status is invalid. The DMV may respond to this notice by suspending your license unless you re-file the SR22 form with another insurer. You can only survive this situation if you find a car insurance company to file the SR22 form on your behalf.

What Happens to Your California SR22 Filing If You Move?

A California SR22 is valid within California State since some states won’t ask you to have it submitted. Consider obtaining a new SR22 form that applies to the new state. With this policy, your new insurer will notify the California DMV that your SR22 is no longer valid in California for the DMV to cancel your SR22 in California.

For a state that doesn't ask for an SR22 filing, you'll still have to get a new policy. The limits of the new policy should be at least equal to your recent California SR22 coverage. The State of California will only cancel your recent SR22 filing once you obtain the new coverage.

Can You Cancel or Remove SR22 Filing Without DMV Penalizing You?

You may have your SR22 filing removed or canceled after completing the mandatory DUI probation. The SR22 filing can also be dismissed or canceled when you're switching car insurers. Note that removing the SR22 before your probation period ends will automatically lead to license suspension.

Your reason for switching insurance companies may entail the fact that you don't like your current company or you found a lower rate. For the three years, you'll be carrying an SR22 form, it has to be filed by an insurer with reasonable prices. Take time to compare prices from different car insurance companies operating in your state. Your goal is to save at least 25 percent of what you’re currently spending on the auto insurance policy.

What are the Costs for Obtaining a California SR22?

The expenses associated with obtaining an SR22 form in California vary with the insurance company. You'll incur from $300 to $800 for coverage based on factors such as age and driving history. Being a DUI offender can make you lose your "good driver" discount (if you had one). You only get to enjoy the discount ten years following your DUI violation.

A DUI conviction can make the insurer consider you as a “high-risk” driver. Some insurers will ask for a $25 to $50 fee for them to file your SR22. You also need to pay a reissue fee ($125) to the DMV before having your driving privilege reinstated.

Find Expert Help on California SR22 Requirements from a Lawyer Near Me

California DMV would request SR22 filings if you failed to observe the road regulations. Violations such as driving without insurance, reckless driving, and drunk driving may result in license revocation or suspension. An SR22 form is your greatest chance at getting your driver’s license reinstated by the California DMV. Try your best to observe SR22 requirements to avoid further penalties.

If you or your loved one need help to understand the legal aspect of the SR22 filing process, we (Vista DUI Attorney Law Frim) are at your service. We believe that our clients have better chances of getting their driving privileges back if they’re informed about the SR22 requirements. With our head office in Vista, CA, we are dedicated to extending our legal help to potential clients across the North County area. Call our Vista DUI Defense Attorney at 760-691-1540, we are open for inquiries you may have regarding any of our practice areas.