If you have been convicted of DUI in California, the DMV will likely suspend or revoke your driver’s license. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI offense, you may be able to apply to have your license reinstated or to obtain a restricted license. To do so, you will need to obtain an SR-22 form from your auto insurance provider. This is additional financial responsibility on top of your auto insurance.  SR-22 insurance does not replace your auto insurance. The purpose of the insurance is to give you additional financial coverage in the event you are driving your vehicle or somebody else’s vehicle. For example, if you get into an accident and your auto insurance doesn’t cover all the damages, SR22 insurance steps in and generally covers an additional $15,000 worth of damages depending on your coverage.  If you have questions about SR-22s, how to obtain this form, and what the SR-22 process may mean for you, turn to the Oakland defense attorneys of Lamano Law Office for help.

With more than 30 years of combined legal experience, our all-women legal team offers compassionate, supportive legal representation to our clients as they work to get their lives back on track in the wake of a DUI conviction. Reach out to us today for a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable Oakland DUI defense lawyer.

What Is a California SR-22?

A California SR-22 form is a document that is provided by a driver’s auto insurance carrier. The form certifies that the driver’s insurance policy meets the minimum coverage requirements set by California law. The form includes the name, address, and policy number of the covered driver, as well as the name and address of the insurer and details both the type of policy and the kinds of coverage provided under the policy. When an auto insurer issues an SR-22 form, the insurance company should forward a copy to the California Department of Motor Vehicles on behalf of the insured driver.

To be safe, when trying to get your driving privileges back, schedule an appointment with the DMV so you are not waiting in line too long.  Be sure to have paper copies of all your documents, including your SR22 insurance.  A lot of insurance companies will say they will forward your paperwork to the DMV but to avoid any hassles, have a paper copy of it for yourself and ask your insurance company to email you a copy for you to print out.

Normally, an insurance card or DMV authorization of self-insurance serves as sufficient proof that a motorist has obtained legally required insurance coverage. But, for drivers who allegedly pose a greater risk of causing an accident or injuries, California requires further proof of insurance coverage in the form of an SR-22. If a policy certified by an SR-22 form lapses or is otherwise canceled by the insurance company, the insurer will notify the DMV of that lapse in coverage.

Who Needs an SR-22 Filing?

A driver may need a completed SR-22 form when they go to reinstate their driver’s license after it has been suspended or revoked. A driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for any of the following reasons:

  • A DUI conviction
  • An underage DUI conviction
  • A reckless driving conviction
  • A “wet reckless” driving conviction, which is a reduced DUI charge
  • A driving record featuring three or more recent traffic violations
  • Being involved in an auto accident while uninsured
  • Failure to report an auto accident that resulted in property damage of more than $1,000, bodily injury, or death
  • A vehicle you owned was involved in an accident, the driver of the vehicle cannot be identified by police, and you did not have auto liability insurance at the time of the crash

In addition, a driver may be required to obtain an SR-22 form if they’re required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle following a DUI or “wet reckless” driving conviction.

In most cases, motorists are required to maintain an SR-22 form on file with the DMV for three years after the reinstatement of their driving privileges. Be sure to mark your calendar for when your 3-year requirement is complete. Oftentimes we have clients that regret having the insurance longer than they need to and the insurance companies have no duty to let you know when the 3-year period has ended.

How Can You Get an SR-22?

You can obtain an SR-22 by contacting your insurance company and asking them to prepare and file one on your behalf. Not all insurers will provide SR-22 coverage, so you may need to research other insurance companies that provide it. In addition, if you ask for an SR-22 form, your insurance company may also choose to cancel your coverage or not renew your policy at the end of its current term, knowing that you have a DUI on your record and/or if you have what is called a negligent operator status. That is when you have too many points on your driving record within a given time.

If you cannot find an insurer who will issue you an SR-22 form, you will need to request a policy from the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan, a program that provides insurance to high-risk drivers. An experienced DUI defense attorney at our firm can help you with this otherwise complicated process.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an SR-22?

Generally speaking, SR-22 insurance is a relatively inexpensive process and typically requires a minor one-time fee or monthly fees over the course of 3-years. However, so-called SR-22 insurance policies tend to have substantially more expensive premiums than do standard auto insurance policies, as drivers who require them are considered to be at a higher risk of being involved in accidents. Whether you stay with your current insurance provider or need to obtain a policy from another insurer, you will likely have much higher insurance premiums than you previously did after requesting this form. This may be especially true if your provider cancels out any good-driver discounts with which it had previously provided you.

Auto insurance premiums are based on various factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your driving record
  • The zip code in which you reside
  • The number and type of vehicles covered by your policy
  • The number of miles you typically drive in a year
  • The policy limits in question

After you obtain an SR-22, you can expect your insurance premiums to fall somewhere in the range of $250 to $1,000 per month. In addition, many insurance companies will charge you an additional fee, usually between $25 and $50, to issue an SR-22. The DMV also charges between $55 – $125 reissue fee to reinstate your driver’s license or to issue a restricted license.

Does an SR-22 Form Cover Any Vehicle I Drive?

If you are required to obtain an SR-22 form, it must cover any vehicles that are registered in your name, as well as any vehicles that you do not own but regularly drive or have regular access to, such as a family vehicle. If you have permission to drive someone else’s vehicle, you would need to obtain a non-owner SR-22 form from the insurance company that provides coverage for the vehicle.

What Is the Difference Between SR-22 and SR-1P?

An SR-1P form serves the same purpose as an SR-22 form, except that it is issued for insurance policies covering vehicles with fewer than four wheels, such as motorcycles.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without an SR-22?

Although California law does not impose penalties for driving without an SR-22, this form is required to reinstate your driver’s license after a suspension or revocation. California law does impose criminal penalties for driving without a valid license or driving without the legally required insurance coverage. Driving on a suspended license can result in an infraction or a misdemeanor charge which could also trigger a violation of your probation.

The penalties for driving on a suspended or revoked license vary depending on the underlying reason your license was suspended or revoked:

  • Reckless/negligent/incompetent driving: Up to three years of informal probation, five days to six months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000
  • Habitual traffic offenses: Up to three years of informal probation, up to 30 days in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test or misdemeanor DUI: Up to three years of informal probation, up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000

Penalties for driving without required insurance include fines between $100 and $500, additional penalty assessments, and the potential impoundment of your vehicle.

What Happens to My SR-22 If I Move Out of State?

Most states require you to file an SR-22 form if you have had your driving privileges reinstated following a DUI or reckless driving conviction. However, every state that requires the form has different criteria for what information the form must include.

Many states have minimum auto insurance coverage requirements. Therefore, if your insurer issued an SR-22 while you resided in California and you subsequently moved to a different state, you will need to consult with an attorney in the state you are trying to get your driving privileges in.

If you want to keep your driving privileges in California, only after you have obtained a new policy in the state to which you have moved will the California DMV release your California SR-22. If you move to a state that does not require you to file an SR-22, you will need to obtain a policy in your new state. This new policy must meet or exceed the coverage limits you had in California before the DMV will release your SR-22.

If you don’t have an insurance policy in your new state in place before you request the cancellation of your California SR-22, the DMV may consider it a lapse in insurance coverage and suspend your driving privileges in California.

Can I Avoid an SR-22 Filing?

You can avoid having to obtain an SR-22 after the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license only if you decide to no longer drive in California.

Don’t Stress Over What’s Next. Let Our Oakland Defense Attorneys Put Your Mind at Ease

If you have had your driver’s license revoked due to a DUI or other traffic violation, you may be entitled to get your license reinstated after obtaining an SR-22 form. Contact Lamano Law Office today to find out how our Oakland defense attorneys can help you navigate this process successfully.