A license suspension due to a traffic violation, accident, or conviction doesn’t mean getting back behind the wheel is impossible. This is the case for every state, including California. The most common route for drivers in this situation is getting SR-22 insurance, which is vital for reinstating a suspended license. Completing an SR-22 is a relatively simple process between yourself, your insurance provider, and the California DMV. You don’t want to lose your driving privileges permanently, so here is everything you need to know about SR-22s and high-risk car insurance in California.
SR-22 Insurance in California
California holds its drivers to a minimum car insurance standard, much like several other states. Drivers without at least the required amount of liability car insurance can lose their license for something as seemingly minor as that –even if they don’t cause an accident. Of course, an SR-22 isn’t car insurance in itself, but rather a certification that you as a high-risk driver carry car insurance. You’ll know you’ll have to get an SR-22 when the California DMV notifies you.
Violations that can result in an SR-22 being required are:
- DUI – The most common reason for an SR-22. For that reason, SR-22s are sometimes called drunk driver insurance. A DUI is also a severe traffic violation that results in a conviction. Underage drinking and driving can also have severe penalties.
- Multiple violations – Smaller traffic violations can also require an SR-22 if there are several within a short period of time. Usually, it’s at least three violations within a year.
- Driving uninsured – Unless you live in New Hampshire, you will get in trouble for driving without insurance. You can easily have your license taken away.
- Reckless driving – Second to drunk driving, reckless driving is another serious traffic violation that can compromise your driving privileges.
- Insurance fraud – Not reporting a significant accident to your insurance company can not only affect your insurance but also driving privileges.
How do You Get an SR-22 in California?
As previously mentioned, getting an SR-22 in California is a cooperative effort between you, your insurance provider, and the California DMV. Very little is actually required on your part actually. You would request to your insurance provider that you need an SR-22 filed, and they will do just that with the DMV. You will be responsible for covering filing and driver’s license reinstatement fees. In California, it’s around $25 to file an SR-22 and at least $300 to reinstate a suspended license. You’ll also need to maintain your car insurance with higher premiums. If your car insurance provider doesn’t offer SR-22 filings, then you can switch to one that does. The state of California also has a Assigned Risk Plan which is a public insurance pool for high-risk drivers in the state.
How Much is Car Insurance in California After an SR-22?
The cost of your car insurance after being required to file an SR-22 is dependent on the violation that led to the license suspension and the SR-22 being required. A traffic violation can increase your insurance rates by at least $227 a year. A more serious violation like a DUI can increase your insurance rates by at least $723 a year. That is more than a $50 increase every month. Of course, increases vary with each insurance provider –both local and national. If you are in the position where you have to change insurance providers, you can pull quotes from them and compare. Also, remember to look at customer service reviews. SR-22s require a lot of work by the insurance provider and DMV, so you want to make sure they are reliable.
How Long is an SR-22 Required in California?
Every state requires that drivers carry SR-22s for a certain amount of time with annual renewals. In California’s case, drivers are required to carry them for around three years. SR-22s for more serious violations like a DUI may be required to be renewed for up to ten years. Once the SR-22 period is over, you must notify your insurance provider, and they will promptly drop it as your rates start to return to normal –assuming you have successfully stayed out of further trouble by being a safe driver.
Are There SR-22s For Non-Owners in California?
Yes, if you don’t own a car yourself but still require an SR-22 in order to drive someone else’s car, there are specialized non-owners SR-22s. Of course, this will also require you to have a non-owners policy in order to be certified. Regardless of car ownership, all drivers have to be insured.