There is much confusion surrounding the SR22 requirement in connection with a California DUI. SR22 refers to a form that is often offered by your vehicle insurance company. The form helps to ensure and verify that you have met the state's requirements and conditions regarding vehicle insurance liability. Upon issuing you with an SR22, your insurance company also forwards a copy to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Every time you want to reinstate your driver's license in California after a DUI license suspension, you need the SR22 form. The SR22 form may be necessary under various circumstances, although you commonly need the form after a DUI-related license suspension. Get in touch with us at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm to learn more about SR22.

Understanding SR22

Most people do not know much about SR22 insurance, and the fact is that it is not insurance but a document. SR22 is a vehicle liability document that is often needed by the Department of Motor Vehicles when dealing with high-risk drivers. Your insurance companies issue you with the document as proof that you are carrying the minimum amount of auto insurance needed in California State. The letters SR stands for "safety responsibility." When your insurance company issues you with an SR22, the form serves as a guarantee to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It indicates that you have the minimum liability insurance as required by the law. Your insurance company issues you with SR22 on top of your existing insurance policy. The process of filing the SR 22 form with the DMV is simple; your insurance company files the form electronically with the DMV. 

However, as simple as it is to file an SR 22 form, there are many negative implications of driving under the influence in California. First, you may have to pay tons of fees and face a possible jail term depending on the severity of your DUI offense. You should also note that driving under the influence is a crime, according to California law, and could ruin your history. For instance, when potential employers run a background check on you, they will always know that you are a DUI offender. This could ruin your chances of landing your dream job, and you may fail to get several state licenses.

Once the DMV suspends or revokes your driver's license, you will need an SR 22. The DMV may suspend your driver's license if you lose during the DMV hearing or if you fail to request a DMV hearing within ten days after your arrest.  You may also lose your driver's license after a court conviction, even after having won during the DMV hearing.  The SR22 document serves as an acceptable proof of liability car insurance for any form of DMV action that requires a driver to give proof of financial responsibility.

When will You Need SR22 Insurance?

You may need to obtain SR22 insurance after the suspension of your driver's license due to several reasons. You will require the SR22 form to help reinstate your driving privilege after a DUI or a wet-reckless suspension or revocation in California. License suspension is a consequence of many DUI offenses in California. When you are operating a motor vehicle or even a motorcycle in California, your blood alcohol concentration should not be above the legal limit of .08%. If you are a commercial driver, allowable BAC is .04%. Young drivers below the age of 21 years are subject to even harsher laws, and they should not operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or higher. California DUI laws are very strict and aim at reducing drunk driving and its detrimental consequences.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver's license for committing excessive violations. For instance, if you have had multiple parking violations regarding your vehicle driving, the DMV may suspend your license. You would then have to apply for an SR22 before the DMV reinstates your driver's license.

The DMV may also suspend your driver's license if you commit the offense of driving without a driver's license in California. Operating a motor vehicle without a driver's license is one of the biggest risks you can ever take. You will not only be putting yourself at risk, but you will also put other road users at risk as well. If you get into a road accident and you do not have auto insurance, you would leave the other party stranded and confused.  The other party may have a hard time recovering damages.  Unless the other party carries uninsured motorist coverage, he/she may have to pay for the damages from their pockets. This could be a devastating situation for the other driver. After the DMV suspends your driver's license for driving without auto insurance, you will require SR22 form.

You may face license suspension if you have huge outstanding traffic or parking fines.  If you pay late or you never pay tickets given, you may ruin your driving record. It is advisable to pay your fines on time and get the violation off your record. The DMV may suspend your driver's license if you commit numerous violations. You would then be required to file an SR22 for the reinstatement of your driver's license. 

Involving in reckless driving may also prompt the California Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend your driver's license. There are many forms of reckless driving, including carelessly swerving lanes. You may also indulge in reckless driving by cutting off those on the road and speeding. Once the DMV suspends your driving license for reckless driving, you will have to file an SR22 form to have your license restored. 

If you obtain too many points on your driving record within a specified timeframe, the court may declare you a negligent operator. Getting the declaration as a negligent operator may lead to automatic suspension of your driver's license. This would prompt you to obtain an SR 22 and file it with the DMV.

Commit the violations outlined above may require you to keep an SR 22 for three years with the California DMV. If the California Department of Motor Vehicles requires you to maintain an SR22, your policy would have to cover all the vehicles. The policy must cover all vehicles that you regularly drive and the vehicles registered under your name. 

After a DUI conviction, you may decide not to drive anymore. If you no longer drive after your DUI conviction, you do not require filing an SR 22.  At times, you may drive even if you do not own a vehicle. If you intend to operate a family or a friend's car, for instance, it would be important to apply for a non-owner SR22 liability policy. The policy will cover you every time you decide to operate another person's vehicle.

SR22 and Restricted Driver's License

After a DUI conviction in California, you will be on probation, and you may have to fulfill some court-ordered obligations. For instance, while you are on probation, you may have to attend and complete California DUI School. A DUI conviction may come with several penalties, including license suspension or revocation. The period of license suspension or revocation will depend on the nature of the DUI offense. After the suspension of your driver's license in California, the Department of Motor Vehicles may offer you two types of a restricted license. The licenses include Ignition interlock Device (IID) restricted license and regular restricted license.

As of the start of 2019, the Department of Motor Vehicles may allow you to continue driving to every place you like even after the suspension of your driver's license. However, you have to meet one requirement; install an ignition interlock device.  It is also necessary to file SR 22 to be able to enjoy this privilege.

To acquire a regular restricted license, you may have to wait for a specified number of days. After this waiting, the Department of Motor Vehicles may grant you a restricted driver's license.  With a restricted driver's license, you may be able to drive to various places, including DUI School and the place of work.  After committing a first-time DUI offense, the DMV may grant you a restricted license after meeting some conditions. First, you would have to join or enroll in a California DUI School. You also have to file a California SR 22. You have to pay some mandatory fees, including a restriction fee of $15 and a reissue fee of $125. 

For repeat or subsequent DUI offenses, the DMV may issue you with a restricted driver's license after you join or enroll in a California DUI School. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. You would have to install an ignition interlock device in all your vehicles and never attempt to drive without an IID.  For reinstatement of your driver's license, you would have to pay restriction and reissue fees and file for California SR22.  If you abide by all the requirements, the Department of Motor Vehicles may issue you with a restricted driver's license for the entire period of license suspension. 

After a DUI arrest, you may be certain that you will plead guilty to the charges. If this is the case, it would be wise to request your insurance company to file your SR 22 with the DMV immediately. It is allowable to jump-start the SR22 process. You do not have to wait until the California Department of Motor Vehicles takes action against you.  Taking an early action of filing SR 22 may make the California DMV reinstate your driving privileges faster.  However, before taking any action, it is important to consult your DUI attorney. Your attorney can guide you on the best strategy for the quick reinstatement of your driver's license in California. 

In some instances, you may not be eligible to obtain a restricted driver's license. You may not get the chance to file an SR22 and seek reinstatement of your license. This case may apply for a DUI conviction under California VC 23152a, driving under the influence. If there is proof that you refused to submit to a chemical breath test or blood test after a DUI arrest, you may not qualify to obtain a restricted driver's license.  You would have to abstain from driving throughout the entire period of license suspension. If you decide to drive on a suspended driver's license, you will face additional charges for driving on a suspended driver's license.

Obtaining SR22 in California

The first step to obtaining an SR 22 is contacting your insurance company and inform them of your predicament. The insurance company will file your paperwork electronically. You may have to pay a typical fee of around $25 to your insurance company. The rates may vary from one insurance company to the other. However, you can be sure that upon obtaining an SR 22 with your current insurance company, your insurance premium rates are likely to increase.

Upon informing the insurance company that you require to file an SR 22, it will alert them that there is an issue. Your insurance company will check your DMV record to find out while you need to file the document. Upon learning about your DUI offense, the insurance company may either cancel your insurance policy or grant you the SR22.  Upon agreeing to grant you the SR22, the insurance company will file the form electronically to the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Some auto insurance companies do not provide SR22 coverage; actually, many insurance companies do not have this provision. If your insurance company does not offer SR 22 insurance, the company may end up canceling you. You will, therefore, have to get an SR 22 from alternative sources. The insurance companies will consider you a high-risk driver, and you will have to pay higher insurance premiums.

In California, it is a mandatory legal requirement for all drivers to carry auto insurance.  The state has in place a program that matches drivers with companies that are willing to insure them. Therefore, you do not have to worry if you are unable to obtain SR22 from your insurance company. When deciding on whether to raise your insurance premiums, the insurance company may consider other factors in addition to your DUI. For instance, the insurance company may consider where you live, your marital status, and your driving history.

The Duration of California SR22 Status

For a DUI related license suspension, you would have to maintain your SR22 status for a minimum period of three years. You do not have to refile the document every year. As long as your insurance company retains you even after issuing the SR22 and as long as you do not cancel your policy, you will remain in DMV files.  The DMV will keep your SR22 filing until it is no longer necessary.

If the insurance company drops you or if you cancel your insurance policy, your insurance company has the mandate to report the information to the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will also have to obtain another SR22 from another auto insurance company. This will help to ensure that the DMV does not suspend your new driver's license. Ultimately, for DMV to remove the SR22 status and reinstate your driver's license, you have to maintain uninterrupted insurance coverage.  It is important to note that you have to keep paying your insurance faithfully. If you miss a payment, your insurance company may inform the Department of Motor Vehicles that your SR22 is no longer valid. This report may trigger a new license suspension from the DMV. To prevent the new license suspension, you would have to refile the SR22. 

Costs Associated with Filing SR22

The costs for filing SR22 may vary from one insurance company to the other.  The varying prices are similar to the varying costs of other auto insurance policies. You may spend costs ranging between $300 and $800 for the policy, depending on the insurance company.  Other factors that may influence the cost of the insurance policy include personal factors like your age and your driving history.

In addition to incurring monetary costs for the SR22, you will also lose your good driver discount if you had one. In California, the law does not allow DUI offenders to retain or to obtain a good driver discount. You will not be able to retain a good driver history for the next ten years from the time of committing a DUI violation in California. 

Upon filing an SR22, insurance companies will label you as a high-risk customer. Therefore, you will have to pay higher premiums to obtain minimum insurance in California. Some insurance companies will charge you some fee to file an SR22. Typical fees often range between $25 and $50. You will also have to pay a reissue fee to the California Department of Motor Vehicles before the reinstatement of your driver's license. The DMV may charge you a reissue fee of $125. 

How long will a DUI conviction affect your auto insurance rates? In the state of California, a DUI offense stays on your record for ten years from the time of committing the offense. Insurance carriers may charge points for three years following the violation. Having a DUI conviction on your record will also disqualify you for an insurance carrier's least expensive policy programs. 

Moving to Another State after Filing for SR22

In some states in the US, the requirement of filing for SR22 does not exist.  However, even among states that require filing for SR 22, the filing requirements may differ.  Usually, SR22 is only valid in the state in which you acquired it.  If you apply for SR22 in California then you move to another country that recognizes SR22, the SR22 filed in California will not be applicable.  You will have to obtain SR22 insurance in your new state of residence.  Once you obtain the new SR22, the new insurance company will get in touch with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The California DMV will then release your SR22 to the new state. 

What happens if you move to a state that does not require you to file SR22? You will have to obtain a new policy. The limits of the new policy obtained should be equal or more than the limits of your California SR 22 coverage.  Once you acquire the new coverage, your new insurance company will inform the California DMV to release your SR 22.  You should not cancel your California SR22 until you obtain the new insurance policy.  If you cancel your California SR 22 before obtaining the new policy, it may ruin your California DMV record. Your California records in the DMV will indicate a lapse in insurance coverage. This lapse may trigger a new suspension of your driver's license in California. 

How Fast is an SR22 Filing?

In most cases, your insurance company can file an SR22 immediately, even before the DMV starts processing your DUI case. However, some exceptions may exist, especially in cases of out-of-state filings. The process of filing an SR22 may also be longer if risks, which require special underwriting approval, exist.  Most insurance companies file SR22 electronically and provide a certificate to the driver. You may also choose to walk the SR22 certificate to the local DMV office.

Most people often wonder whether it is possible to submit an insurance ID card instead of filing an SR22. However, this is not possible, especially in cases involving driving under the influence, negligent operators, and an uninsured accident. In these cases, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will require an Insurance Proof Certificate (SR22).

You should also be aware that it is not possible to file SR22 without buying liability insurance. An SR22 is a certificate or document attached to an auto insurance policy. Therefore, to be able to get the SR22 certificate, you have to purchase a policy. The policy has to be within the minimum limit of the liability insurance needed by the state.

Contact a San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm Near Me

After license suspension due to DUI, you may be able to retain your driving privileges by submitting an SR22 form and meeting other set conditions. Many people lack enough knowledge about SR22. Therefore, we at the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm are here to guide you on the process of filing SR22, including what to expect. Contact us at 408-777-6630 and speak to one of our expert attorneys.