The state of California requires drivers to carry vehicle liability coverage or some other form of evidence of financial responsibility. The California laws on financial responsibility make sure that motorists can award settlements for injuries and property damages resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Besides acquiring a vehicle coverage policy, motorists with serious criminal violations such as DUI or receive many traffic violations to obtain what is known as SR22 insurance or SR22 certificate. The California DMV would request SR22 filings if you are convicted of DUI, which may result in license suspension or revocation. For your California driver's license to be reinstated by the DMV, you are required to file for an SR22 form. Get in touch with us at the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm, and we will follow up on the SR22 requirements and application to avoid further penalties.
What Is SR-22 Insurance?
An SR22, also known as Certificate of Financial Responsibility, is a vehicle liability insurance document. Your insurance carrier files the SR-22 with the DMV, which can give an assurance that you satisfy the demands for insurance policy coverage in California.
A driver's license can be revoked or suspended when one loses a DMV hearing or if one is not requested. A court conviction on DUI charges can also result in a suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. When either of these happens, you will have to file an SR22 to restore your driving entitlement. The conditions set by the court allows one to drive with an interlock installed if they file for an SR-22 certificate. The certificate acts as evidence of liability auto insurance for DMV measures that calls for the provision of evidence that you are compliant with the financial responsibility laws.
If you are required by the DMV to maintain a California SR22, you must include all cars registered using your information or all motor vehicles that you regularly drive. The auto insurance carrier files the SR22 insurance with the DMV, Secretary of State, or other departments authorized by law to issue or approve licenses.
In California, SR-22 insurance is a necessity, even if you have no ownership of a vehicle. The three main types of SR-22 insurance in California include:
- Operator’s policy certificate, which covers drivers operating any car, even if the driver does not possess the vehicle.
- The owner’s policy insurance covers the cars possessed by the motorist.
- A broad coverage policy insurance covers all cars operated and owned by the driver.
Of the three, broad coverage policy insurance is all-inclusive. A driver who owns a vehicle but also drives government or company-owned cars should file for this type of SR-22 insurance.
You should only file for an SR-22 certificate if you plan on driving after a DUI conviction. For instance, if you have no car but still have the approval to operate a family-owned vehicle and you might drive once in a while, you should file for the operator's policy certificate. An operator 's policy insurance covers you whenever you have the approval to operate another individual's car.
Can Filing for an SR22 Assist You in Acquiring a California Restricted License?
Once you are found guilty of DUI, you will be put on supervised probation, which implies that you will have to comply with certain rules and conditions set by the California court. The terms set for individuals on DUI probation include attending and successfully completing a DUI school in California and facing DUI penalties. The penalties will touch on the driver's license revocation or suspension and state the period, which might be between 6 months and 4 years.
There are generally two kinds of California restricted licenses that the DMV might offer. You might either receive an Ignition Interlock Devices restricted license, or a regular restricted driver’s license.
The IID restricted driver’s license is given to defendants who have had their vehicles installed with ignition interlock devices (IID). The device allows the individual whose license has been suspended to drive to any part of the state until he or she completes the suspension period. The California Senate Bill 1046 states that the Department of Motor Vehicles can only permit an individual to drive with an IID device installed in their vehicle after filing an SR-22.
California DMV gives a regular restricted driver’s license to individuals whose license has been suspended and has awaited the stated couple of days. A restricted driver’s license limits on the location you can visit as you can only drive to either work or DUI school and back. You will first have to satisfy the following conditions if you are a first time offender for the DMV to issue you with a restricted driver’s license:
- Sign up for DUI school within California,
- File a California SR-22, and
- Pay a $125 reissue charge and a $15 restriction fee.
If you are a second time offender or a subsequent offender, you can only be issued a restricted driver’s license if you:
- Sign up for DUI school within California,
- Install an interlock in your car and guarantee that you will not drive any vehicle without an IID,
- File an SR22 certificate, and
- Pay similar reissue and restriction fees.
If you decide on pleading guilty during the plea hearing or at the DUI DMV hearing, you should start off the SR22 filing process by contacting your insurance carrier immediately. Starting off the process instead of waiting for the DMV to request the SR-22 certificate may assist you in regaining your driving entitlement more quickly. Although most cases follow the same procedure, you should consult a DUI attorney to figure out the best action plan specific to your case. If you found guilty of VC 23152a DUI, and there is evidence to show that you declined to agree to a breath test or chemical blood test, you won’t be eligible to acquire a restricted driver’s license.
How To Acquire a California SR-22?
You can obtain an SR-22 certificate by contacting your auto insurance company. However, once you request for the certificate, the insurer will be aware of the conviction against you and may affect your insurance rates.
The insurance company will get access to your California DMV record and figure out the reason as to why you are requesting for the SR22 form. The insurance carrier will either send the certificate to the DMV or cancel the insurance policy. If you are issued with an SR22 certificate by your insurer, your insurance rates will most likely increase. The form will be directly electronically filed with the DMV, and you do not have to present them yourself.
Because not all auto insurance companies offer SR22 coverage, you may need to look for an SR-22 from another insurer if your carrier cancels your policy. Your new insurance company will likely ask you to make payments for a higher premium, as car insurance companies may now consider you an at-risk driver.
In California, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle without auto insurance. So the state of California gets you enrolled with a program that finds suitable insurance carriers for you. The program will offer you an insurance policy in case you are not able to acquire an SR22 by yourself. Insurance companies do not make a judgment about raising your policy by considering only the factor of DUI conviction. Most insurance companies may also consider your age, driving experience, driving history, relationship status, and residence.
How Much Does the California SR22 Insurance Cost?
Similar to other car insurance coverage, the costs for California SR22 differ by company. You should be ready to spend an amount anywhere between $300 and $800 for an insurance policy. The amount you will be charged depends on factors like your age, driving history, and other necessary factors indicated by the specific auto insurance company.
In addition to the charges, you will most likely lose your driver insurance discount, as it is forbidden for DUI offenders to retain or obtain the discount for 10 years after your DUI offense. As an SR-22 client, you may be asked to pay a high value for the liability insurance mandatory in California because you are now considered an at-risk driver. Furthermore, some companies may ask you to pay between $25 to $50 for filing your SR22 certificate. The DMV will also charge you a $125 reissue fee so they can restore your driving entitlement.
The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan
The CAARP is a program that assists drivers that are incapable of acquiring SR22 forms by themselves. The statute was established in 1947 by the California legislature to offer auto insurance liability to car owners who cannot acquire such insurance through ordinary procedures. The CAARP program should be the last option for motorists seeking car insurance.
The CAARP is a program that connects motorists who are unable to acquire automobile insurance with suitable insurance companies in California. If you search for an insurance company through the program, the CAARP will notify the DMV of your financial responsibility filings. CAARP does not act as an insurance carrier, but the assigned statute proposes rates via the Advisory Committee and asks the insurance department in California to approve them.
All insurance companies registered under the CAARP are legally obliged to assist. After the application, all applicants are equally and fairly assigned among the insurance companies that participate.
What Happens to Your California SR22 if You Move?
While not all states require a DUI convict to file an SR-22, most of them require you to do so. Nevertheless, every state's conditions for filing an SR-22 differ, and the California SR22 certificate is only efficient in California.
This means that if you relocate from California state to another state, you have to acquire an SR22 certificate in your current location. Once you acquire that insurance policy, your insurance carrier will inform the DMV of the changes so that they can clear your SR22 information from the California state.
If you relocate to another state that does not require the filing of SR22, you will be required to acquire a new insurance policy that satisfies the minimum requirements of your current state. Likewise, to a state that requires SR-22 filing, California will release your SR22 information once you acquire a new policy coverage.
It is essential first to acquire a new policy before you proceed with canceling your SR22 certificate. Failure to do so will result in the California DMV finding out a gap in coverage. Your California driver’s license will then immediately be suspended.
How Long Are You Required to Maintain Your California SR22 Status?
A license suspension due to a DUI conviction will result in a minimum of 3 years SR-22 certification, but you are not necessarily required to refile every year. If your insurance carrier does not cancel your policy after you have received your SR22 certificate or you do not change your company, the SR22 will be available at the DMV records until you complete your suspension.
If any of these happens, your insurance carrier will immediately inform the California Department of Motor Vehicles of the changes made. You will then have to acquire an SR-22 certificate from another insurance company to prevent your license from being suspended. Once you complete your license suspension period while maintaining your coverage, the California DMV will delete your SR22 from their record and restore your driver’s license.
Also, if you stop making payments to your insurance company, your car insurer will most likely notify the DMV that you currently do not have an SR-22. The DMV will then suspend your license if you fail to re-file your SR22.
Can my insurer cancel my car insurance after a DUI?
In California, it is illegal for insurance companies to cancel an automobile liability policy coverage before a motorist completes the period stated in the contract. This means that an insurer cannot instantly raise the premium rates or cancel a policy.
When your policy comes to an end, and you need to renew, the insurer can legally either:
- Decline to present you with an offer for renewal, which means they have canceled your policy.
- Offer a policy renewal on different conditions, such as higher premium rates.
- Remove a discount if you qualify, which they are obligated by law to do so.
How can You avoid the need for SR-22 insurance?
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid the demand of SR 22 certificate following a DUI sentence apart from to stop driving. You need to file for SR-22 insurance after being arrested for DUI because the California DMV will immediately suspend your driver's license unless:
You request and win a DMV “administrative per se” hearing to contest the suspension. A DMV DUI hearing in California is an administrative hearing held at a DMV office. The sole issue in this hearing is whether or not your driver's license should be suspended as a result of your having been arrested for DUI.
You are not criminally convicted of a DUI in court. You can win a DUI case if you prove any of the following at your trial:
- In California, there is a list of guidelines that officers manning DUI checkpoints must adhere to, as well as the DUI checkpoints themselves, to ensure that any evidence gathered in those checkpoints are relevant in the courts. The illegal arrest means that even if there is sufficient evidence, you can’t be convicted.
- If there was a lack of probable cause to arrest you, then the DMV hearing officer will overturn your driver's license suspension. If you adhere to all traffic laws and driving rules as required in California, the detention will have been unlawful, and the DMV hearing officer should overturn your license
- The DMV hearing officer will overturn your driver’s license suspension if there are psychological reasons for your false high BAC reading level. If you struggle with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or with a condition called auto-brewery syndrome, you could also be wrongly accused and charged with driving under the influence.
- If the testing gadget in use was not adequately maintained or used, and the results came out positively, the evidence gathered will not be acceptable during the court proceedings.
If you lose the proceedings, your license will immediately be suspended. The length of the revocation or suspension will differ depending on the nature of the offense, and whether you are a first time or subsequent offender. If you are a first time DUI offender, your license will be suspense for at least six months. For subsequent DUI offenders or commercial license holders, their licenses are suspended for a more extended period.
Penalties for Failure to Acquire or Maintain an SR-22 Insurance
The potential penalties for failing to acquire or maintain an SR-22 certificate in California include the following:
Driver’s License Revocation or Suspension
In California, drivers must maintain SR-22 insurance for at least three years after a DUI conviction. As long as you maintain the SR-22 for three years, the suspension is inactive, and you are legally allowed to drive. However, if you fail to maintain the SR-22 insurance, the DMV will resuspend your driver’s license until you can provide proof of SR-22 insurance.
Ineligibility for Driver’s License Reinstatement
In California, you are required to acquire SR-22 insurance after your license suspension as a requirement to reinstate your license. Motorists who fail to acquire SR-22 insurance are not eligible for a driver's license reinstatement after serving their suspension period.
Other Circumstances You May Need an SR-22 Insurance
Common circumstances resulting in an SR-22 insurance requirement include:
Conviction for Vehicular Homicide
Vehicular manslaughter in California (PC 192(c)) is causing the death of another person while driving a vehicle, by negligently committing either an unlawful act that is not a California felony or a lawful act that may cause death. If you are convicted of vehicular manslaughter, then the California DMV will revoke your driver's license.
California state requires motorists to carry motor vehicle liability insurance or another form of proof of financial responsibility. Financial responsibility laws ensure that drivers have the ability to pay for property damages and injuries that result from motor vehicle accidents.
Driving While Suspended
Unlicensed driving where the driver never had a license or just let their license expire is typically a traffic violation, a relatively minor offense. But if the person was driving after having his or her license suspended or revoked, the crime is generally more severe. Depending on the situation, driving while suspended or revoked can be a misdemeanor or even a felony.
Hit and Run
A driver commits a hit-and-run offense by failing to stop at the scene of a collision that results in property damage or injury or death to a person. The duties of a driver who is involved in an accident and the penalties typically depend on the seriousness of the accident.
Accumulating a Certain Number of Demerit Points
California issues fees and fines for traffic violations but also imposes license-related punishment on repeat offenders. Like many states, California keeps track of traffic infractions with a driver's license point system. When a driver is convicted of a traffic infraction, the California DMV assigns a specific number of demerit points against the motorist's record. Accumulation of a lot of points within a particular period, usually between 2 years or three years, will result in a driver's license suspension. As a condition of license reinstatement after a suspension, the DMV will require the driver to maintain SR-22 insurance for the next three years.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
If you are convicted of driving under the influence in California, there are several consequences you may face as a result of that conviction. You will face charges against you, the general penalties associated with a conviction against you, the defenses your DUI attorney can raise, and finally, a more detailed inspection of one of the necessary consequences of a sentence, which is known as SR22 insurance.
If you have been convicted of a DUI, and are required to file an SR22, contact the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm at 714-740-7866 immediately.