What is an SR-22 in California?
An SR-22 form is the “California Proof of Insurance Certificate.” Required by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), it certifies your “financial responsibility.” You must file this form after receiving a DUI, your license suspended, driving uninsured, or any other behavior that would classify you as a high-risk driver. The document proves that you are carrying the mandatory minimum car insurance.
The certificate is not auto insurance or a substitute for insurance. An SR-22 is an indicator to authorities that you’re a high-risk driver and require monitoring.
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Know the Law About California SR-22
- After receiving a DUI or charged with any other high-risk violations, you must file an SR-22.
- California requires liability-only insurance with minimum limits of 15/30/5.
- The SR-22 form stays on your records for three years. During that time, you must maintain a clean driving record.
- The cost for filing an SR-22 is $25, along with any additional penalties and fees.
- You are required to file an SR-22 annually.
Reasons an SR-22 May Be Required
The following is a list of reasons you may be asked to file an SR-22. Having a suspended or restricted license may also be cause for filing.
- Driving without a legal license, not having it with you, or it is expired
- Driving without the mandatory insurance required by California
- Receiving multiple traffic citations over a short period
- Having any serious moving violation, like a DUI or DWI
- Your license is suspended or revoked
- Not carrying the state-mandated minimum insurance coverage
- Unpaid court-ordered child support
How Long Will You Need an SR-22 in California?
Due to these offenses’ serious nature, like DUI’s and DWI’s, the SR-22 will stay on your driving record for three years. Over that time, it is necessary to renew the form. Check with your state DMV regarding renewal time frames. If you do not continue to keep the SR-22 on file as directed, you may be subject to legal action, additional fees, and penalties or have difficulty renewing your insurance policy.
What Does it Mean to Have an SR-22?
If identified as a high-risk driver, you are required to file an SR-22. A DUI violation is the most common reason drivers file the SR-22 form. Having this on your driving record will affect you in many ways and for several years to come. Below are some of the consequences that come along with high-risk driving behavior.
- A first offense starts at $450, with additional fines and fees.
- Your insurer may drop you as a customer or could increase your premium.
- You must file the SR-22, pay the fees associated with filing, and renew as directed by the DMV for three years.
- Your average insurance premium will increase 80-100% in the future.
- The DUI charge stays on your driving record for ten years.
- A DUI conviction, if severe enough, may go on to your criminal record.
How Do You Get an SR-22?
Your insurance provider submits an SR-22 on your behalf. You must contact them to begin the process.
Keep in mind that not all insurance providers cover those who have an SR-22 on their record. You may be considered too high-risk for the company to insure. If your insurer does not continue coverage, there are still providers that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers. After searching and identifying a new provider, they will file the SR-22 on your behalf and assure the state that you have insurance coverage.
It is common practice for these insurance providers to request that you pay the policy premium in full. Should you put off paying or not pay at all, the insurer will drop your policy and contact the DMV. The state will then suspend your license due to a lack of car insurance coverage.
How Do You Get Your SR-22 Removed?
It is your responsibility to contact the insurance provider to have an SR-22 removed as you get to the end of the three years an SR-22 is in place. The DMV does not keep track of the end dates. The insurance provider will take the necessary steps to have the SR-22 removed. After this is completed, start shopping around for more reasonably priced insurance. Premium costs won’t go down right away, but you may find something affordable and save some money.