There is a lot of confusion in both the general and even the legal community surrounding SR22 requirements following a DUI case.  Ross Law Center will break it down in this article and explain both the purpose and the requirements of SR22.  Simply stated California SR22 is a type of form provided by the defendant’s car insurance carrier that verifies and confirms that the accused has met the states requirements with respect to automobile liability insurance.  Upon issuance, the insurance company will then need to forward a copy of the provisions of the policy to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  This process must be completed at anytime that a person withes to reinstate his/her driving privileges following a DMV suspension or a revocation.  The most common use of an SR22 is for a DUI or alcohol related license suspension, however there are other circumstances following a suspension that SR22 may be required.

SR22 Defined

An SR22 is simply an insurance certificate that your insurance files with the DMV to confirm that you carry the California state minimums for auto insurance liability.  If your California drivers license or privilege to drive has been suspended or revoked either because the person lost the DMV hearing or did not request one, or you were convicted of DUI by the court, SR22 will be required in order to reistate.  The DMV will require this “proof of insurance” in order to complete the reinstatement of your privleges to operate a motor vehicle in California.  The most common examples where the California DMV may require a person to file an SR22 include :

1) To reinstate a persons privledge to drive following either the DUI or a Wet-Reckless suspension and/or revocation

2) If the driver of a vehicle was involved in an accident in which the driver was uninsured at the time of the incident

3) The DMV issued a suspension/revocation because you were declared a negligent operator usually caused by too many points on your driving record within a specified period of time

If any of these events apply then the DMV can require you to keep an SR22 on file and generally you must keep in on file for a period of 3 years.  If you are required to have an SR22 on file your policy must include any and all cars that are registered in your name or that you routinely drive.  Following a DUI conviction if you chose to longer drive you will not be required to file an SR22.  If you intend to operate a motor vehicle but you do not own a car (for example drive your parents car), you would need to file a non-owner’s SR22 liability policy.  This type of policy would cover you during the period of time that you were given permission to drive.

SR22 and Restricted License

An SR22 can also help you get a restricted license.  After sentencing of a DUI you will generally be placed on a term of probation most common is 3 to 5 years.  A condition of probation usually means that you must successfully complete certain court-ordered obligations.  One of these most common terms is that you must attend and successfully complete a California DUI school along with DUI penalties that include a drivers license suspension that could range from 6 months to 4 years.   During or following the license suspension and after waiting a specific amount of days, the DMV may issue a “restricted license” under certain circumstances.  A restricted license would allow you to travel to and from work, school, as well as to and from the DUI classes.  The DMV will most likely issue a restricted license for a first time DUI offense in the person:

1) Enrolls in the California DUI school, make sure that you stay compliant to the terms and conditions of the school and attend as directed or you may lose your privilege

2) File a copy of the California SR22 liability proof of insurance

3) Pay a restricted license fee of $15 and a reinstatement fee of $125, please note: these fees may vary and are subject to change from each county

IF a person is convicted of a 2nd or subsequent DUI offense the DMV will generally issue a restricted license if you:

1) Enroll in a court approved DUI School

2) Install a California Ignition Interlock device (IID) in your car and promise that you will not operate and motor vehicle without an IID unit installed in it

3) File a California SR22 liability proof of insurance

4) Pay a restricted license fee of $15 and a reinstatement fee of $125, please note: these fees may vary and are subject to change from each county

If you comply with these terms, the California DMV will generally in most cases issue the restricted license for the appropriate restricted license period.  However, if at the time of the DUI arrest and conviction of VC23152(a) the person refused the submit to a breath or blood test, and it was proven that the defendant refused to the chemical test then he/she will be ineligible to receive a restricted license.

How To Get a California SR22

The process of obtaining a California SR22 will involve you contacting the insurance company that currently carries your automobile insurance.  The negative side of this is that once you reveal to your insurance company that you need an SR22 it will raise a red flag that something significant has happened to your driving privledges.  The next step will be for your insurance company to run a DMV driving record to investigate why you need the SR22.  Upon their investigation and finding of a DUI most insurance companies will either cancel your policy, or issue the SR22 certificate to you.  If your insurance company submits to you the SR22 your rates will likely (but not always) increase.  Your insurance company in most cases will file the SR22 form electronically with the DMV.  Not every insurance company provider will issue an SR22, as a matter of fact many of the “name brand companies” will not.  If your current insurance company decides to cancel you as a result of your DUI then you will be forced to shop around for new insurance.  This process can become tedious and expensive since you not only will need the new company to issue the SR22 but they will often classify you as a high risk driver and you lose your previous insurance companies discounts.

California SR22 Costs

As with every insurance company and automobile policy, the costs associated with California SR22 vary by insurance companies.  As a rough general rule a person can expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $800 for the policy, depending on several other factors such as your driving history, age, address, and length of tenure with your current insurance company.  In addition to that cost you will lose all your good driving discounts, in California the law prohibits DUI offenders from retaining or earning good driver discounts for a period of 10 years.  This can have a significant increase in your insurance premium and is one of the most expensive long-term effects of a DUI.  In addition, some insurance companies will also collect from you between $25-$50 or more to electronically file your SR22 with the DMV.