Most DUI cases in the state of California result in suspended or revoked driver's licenses. It discourages such drivers from continuing operating their cars until they meet certain conditions. Losing one's driving privileges is devastating, mainly if you depend on your vehicle to go to work, to school, and/or run your family errands, among other things. Most drivers facing DUI charges end up appealing to the court to have their driving privileges reinstated. This is where SR22 Insurance comes in.

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles will set a few conditions for the DUI offender before their driver's license can be reinstated. Among them is filing SR22 Insurance with the department as proof of financial responsibility. There is a lot that revolves around SR22 Insurance in California, and an ordinary driver may not know all about it. That is why at San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm, we are offering guidance and advice to DUI offenders in San Jose, California, in all matters regarding SR22 Insurance.

What is SR22 Insurance?

As mentioned above, SR22 Insurance is a certificate issued by an insurance company as proof of one's financial responsibility. The Insurance demonstrates that the driver has the required amount of money to cover liability on their car insurance policy. Anyone who files SR22 Insurance does so after getting an order by a court for committing a specific traffic violation such as a DUI offense. If your driver's license has been suspended after that violation, you will have to request your car insurer to file the SR22 insurance certificate on your behalf. Alternatively, you can get a license from a car insurance company that is willing to submit the document on your behalf.

After getting arrested for DUI in the state of California, there are several legal processes a defendant must go through if they want to be released from custody. The procedures also help the defendant not to face hefty penalties associated with DUI, for instance, having their driver's license suspended or revoked. It starts with a DMV DUI hearing, which should be requested at least ten days after the arrest. If the defendant fails to ask for a DMV hearing, or they lose in the trial, they lose their driving privileges for a specified period. 

The defendant will automatically lose their driving privileges if they lose in their DUI court case. For some drivers, losing their driving privileges, even for a few months, is devastating. With advice and help from their attorney, they petition the DMV to allow them to at least continue driving even for only a restricted time a day. If anyone is to get back their driving privileges after suspension of their license, California DMV will always require the filing of SR22 Insurance. The certificate will be necessary even if the driver agrees to have an Ignition Interlock Device system installed in their car.

Situations That Call For The California SR22 Form

To have a suspended license reinstated, the California Department of Motor vehicles will need proof of coverage that a DUI offender has the required amount of liability insurance that is required by the state. The state of California requires proof of third-party insurance coverage, which will be able to pay for any damages that could be caused to other people by the offender's driving. Note that the coverage provided by this Insurance does not cover any costs to the driver or their vehicle.  Again, only a driver that is considered a high-risk operator will be required to file SR22 Insurance with California DMV.

Here are some of the situations a driver could be in, which might require him/her to file an SR22 certificate:

If you are facing a first DUI conviction: Any driver that is facing a sentence related to alcohol or drug use while driving is likely to be required to file an SR22 with DMV. First time DUI offenders are likely to lose their driving privileges for between six months to one year. To continue operating even after a conviction, the offender may be required to have an IID system installed in their car and also have their insurance company file an SR22 with DMV. If that is done, the offender's suspended license may be reinstated with no restrictions.

If you have been involved in an accident while driving without Insurance: California is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. It means that a driver could be found liable for causing an accident and be required to compensate anyone that has suffered damages through that accident. If it is established that the driver was operating without car insurance, DMV will want some form of assurance that the driver will take full financial responsibility in case such an accident happens again in the future. The driver will, therefore, be required to have their car insurance file SR22 certificate with DMV before getting back their driver's license.

If you are facing a subsequent DUI conviction or a conviction for a more severe traffic offense: second and subsequent DUI convictions, count if they happen within ten years. For every subsequent conviction, a DUI offender is likely to lose his/her driving privileges for a much more extended period. A second offender is, for instance, likely to face a license suspension of one year. A third offender, on the other hand, is likely to face a license suspension for two years. Again, the suspension can be lifted if the offender is willing to have an IID installed in their car. DMV will also require an SR22 before it can reinstate your driver's license.

If you are caught driving on a restricted or revoked license: Again, this is another good reason for DMV even to revoke your license. A limited or suspended license automatically means that you are a high-risk operator. However, DMV is always willing to allow such an offender to continue operating their car. This happens on conditions, such as having their car insurer file SR22 certificate on their behalf, and installation of IID.

Generally, anyone that is facing a California driver's license suspension or revocation can be given a second chance by DMV to ensure that they can move about and go to work, attend school, or even attend court-ordered DUI rehabilitation sessions. If the DMV requires the driver to maintain an SR22 certificate, your car insurance policy must cover other cars that are registered under your name or all the vehicles that you regularly drive.

However, for any driver that will not be driving after facing a DUI conviction, you may never need the SR22. If you would like to continue operating, but you do not have a car of your own, you will be required to apply for a non owner SR22 certificate. The certificate will cover you every time you are allowed to drive a car belonging to another person.

Non-Owner SR22 Insurance

As mentioned above, a non owner SR22 certificate is a liability policy for the drivers who drive but do not have cars of their own. Some drivers borrow, and others rent cars which they often use. If such a driver is in any of the situations mentioned above, they will need to submit an SR22 certificate if they want to continue operating.

Just like regular SR22 Insurance, the non driver policy provides liability coverage for any property damage or bodily injury that could result from the driver's operation of a vehicle that is not their own. Should the driver get involved in an accident and is found to be liable, their non owners car insurance policy will protect them against resulting lawsuits.

This liability coverage will be used to pay for damaged property and medical care for injured third-party persons and other damages that could result if the driver gets into an accident. In addition to that, the non owner SR22 insurance policy will include the following:

  • Cover for medical payments and personal injury protection
  • Both insured and underinsured car liability insurance
  • Rental car liability insurance

However, non owner SR22 Insurance will not include collision or comprehensive coverage. It is because there is no specific car that is assigned to the policy. It means that the policy will not cover any damages to the vehicle the driver will be operating at the time of the accident, or his/her medical bills and other costs that could result from injuries.

SR22 Certificates for Restricted Licenses

When a driver is convicted of DUI, they are usually given probation. Certain conditions are set by the court, which the driver must fulfill, for instance, a mandatory requirement to attend and complete a court-ordered DUI school. There are penalties, such as suspension of the driver's license for six months to four years. A suspended license does not work for most drivers, especially those who entirely depend on their car to move from one place to the other. That is why there is always an option of getting a restricted driver’s license.

In the state of California, the Department of Motor vehicles offers two kinds of restricted driver’s licenses. Note that the driver will be required to have an SR22 certificate to get a limited license. The two kinds of restricted driver's licenses are:

  • Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License

Today, California DMV allows DUI offenders to continue operating their car without restriction throughout their driver’s license suspension if they agree to have an IID installed in their car. However, the defendant needs to file an SR22 certificate for DMV to allow their request to drive without restriction.

  • California’s regular restricted driver’s license

It is the type of restricted license that a DUI offender gets after a license suspension and also after waiting for a specified number of days. California DMV could issue out a limited license to enable the offender to drive to and from work, to and from school, and also to a DUI school. In most cases, first-time DUI offenders get a regular restricted driver's license. But they have to meet such conditions as:

  • Enrolling to a California DUI program
  • Filed a California SR22 licenses
  • Paid $15 for license restriction and an additional $125 for license reissue

Sometimes second DUI offenders can also get a restricted driver’s license, but also under some conditions like:

  • If they have enrolled in a DUI program
  • If they have agreed to have an IID installed in their car and promised not to operate any vehicle without the device
  • If they have obtained an SR22 certificate
  • If they have paid the above fees, that is, both restriction and license reissue fee

As long as the offender abides by the said conditions, California DMV is most likely going to change their driver’s license suspension to a restricted driver’s license for the period the driver’s license will be suspended.

If, after getting arrested for DUI, the driver is confident that they will plead guilty, they can begin the SR22 filing process immediately instead of waiting for the DMV to take action. The driver can request his/her insurance company to submit SR22 Insurance immediately after year arrest. This way, you can have your driving license reinstated much faster without delays.

Working closely with an experienced DUI attorney can help too. An experienced attorney will know what you should do at any given time for a favorable outcome.

However, if you got arrested for driving under the influence according to Section 23152(a) of the California Vehicle Code, and there is proof that you failed to yield to a DUI testing, you will not be eligible to obtain a restricted driver's license.

How to Obtain an SR22 Certificate in California

The first step in getting an SR22 in California is getting in touch with your auto insurance company. The problem is that your request to have them file an SR22 on your behalf is a clear indication that something important happened. The insurance company will decide to check with DMV to determine what the actual problem is. After accessing your DMV records, your insurer will do one of two things:

  • Issue out the certificate
  • Cancel your car insurance policy

If your insurer agrees to issue you with the license, there is a chance that your insurance rates will increase, though this is not guaranteed. All the company needs to do is to file SR22 with DMV electronically.

Note that not all auto insurance companies provide SR22 policies. The truth is that most of them do not offer such coverage. If yours is one of these, the company will automatically cancel your plan, forcing you to look for the SR22 coverage elsewhere. It could mean that you will pay a higher amount in premium since the other company will automatically consider you a high-risk operator.

The state of California makes it mandatory for all drivers to have car insurance. If your insurer does not offer SR22 coverage, the law will offer a program that will match you with an insurance company that can cover you if you are not able to get the SR22 certificate on your own.

Note that a DUI conviction is not the only reason your auto insurance company can increase your insurance rates. Most insurance companies consider other factors, such as your driving record, marital status, driving experience, and your place of residence. There is, therefore, the chance of getting favorable terms of Insurance with another company when you request for SR22 Insurance.

How Much Does It Cost?

Just like other insurance policies in the state, the cost of California SR22 varies from one company to the other. Generally, you can expect the price to range between $300 and $800 for SR22 policy based on several factors like the defendant’s driving history and where they live, among other things.

In addition to the cost of the policy, the defendant will lose their driver discount if they had one. California law does not allow a DUI offender to get or retain a driver discount for at least ten years after the DUI violation.

Again, SR22 applicants will have to pay more in premium for the least liability coverage that is required by the state's law. It is because they are now considered high-risk drivers. On top of that, some auto insurance companies will charge a fee for filing SR22, which could range between $25 and $50 or higher. The defendant will also be required to pay a license reissue fee of $125 to California DMV before it reinstates their driver's license.

Generally, SR22 Insurance will cost more than what the driver was paying for in auto insurance. California rates of car insurance typically go up by about 43% after a DUI conviction. State laws do not allow car insurance companies to cancel a driver’s policy even after a DUI conviction or to increase their rates. It can, however, happen when the time to renew your policy comes.

Even before finding out whether your insurer will be willing to file the SR22 Insurance on your behalf or not, it is advisable to compare quotes from different auto insurance providers. It will get you a cheaper SR22 Insurance.

How Long Should One Maintain SR22 Status?

Generally, SR22 status should be upheld for a minimum of three years after a driver's license suspension that results from a DUI-related offense. Fortunately, the DMV does not require the drivers to re-file the SR22 certificate every year. There are conditions for this to happen:

  • Your insurer does not drop you after issuing the certificate
  • Your insurer does not cancel the coverage

If things remain the same with your insurer, the plan will remain filed with DMV until it is no longer needed.

If your insurer drops you or cancels the policy, it will notify the DMV of the new development. When that happens, the driver must obtain another SR22 coverage immediately if they do not want to face another license suspension. It means that the driver must look for another insurance company that is willing to file the SR22 Insurance on their behalf. DMV requires DUI offenders to maintain an uninterrupted SR22 status if they want the department to remove it and reinstate their driver's license ultimately. 

Again, if the defendant fails to make payments as required, their car insurer may report it to the DMV. Failing to make payments on time means that you have not maintained the SR22 Insurance. It could cause a new suspension of your driver’s license. To salvage the situation, you need to file the SR22 again immediately.

What happens to a Driver’s SR22 Status If They Move?

Most states in the United States do not require the filing of SR22 for DUI offenders to have their suspended licenses reinstated. However, some do, but the processes differ. That is why a driver could get confused about what he/she should do if they decide to move to another state. What you should know is that California SR22 insurance is only valid in the state. If you move to another state, things will be a little different.

If, for instance, the driver moves to a state that requires the filing of SR22 just like California, you will be required to obtain another policy from that state. Once this happens, your new insurer will inform California DMV about it, and then the department will release the SR22 you have in the state.

If, on the other hand, you move to a state that does not recognize filing of SR22 Insurance, you will have to obtain a new policy that works just the same or in an equal capacity as California SR22 insurance. Once this is done, your new insurer must inform California DMV for them to release the SR22 you have in the state.

It is advisable to have a new policy before you can cancel out the California SR22. If this does not happen, your records with DMV will show a lapse in your coverage, which might cause a new license suspension.

Find a San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm Near Me

California DUI offenders should strive to understand the intricacies surrounding the filing of SR22 with the DMV to get prepared to have their driver’s licenses reinstated immediately after suspension.  A competent DUI attorney can help you with this. At the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm, we not only help our clients understand what SR22 is all about but also help them with the process. Call us at 408-777-6630 and let us make the process easier for you.