If you are ready to get your license reinstated following a California DUI suspension, you will need to use an SR22 form and find an insurer who is willing to sign you up for a policy. This may seem simple and straightforward on the surface, but there is much more involved than most realize.
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we can assist you in meeting the SR22 requirements of the state of California, help you find a competitively priced auto insurance policy that you will qualify for, and answer any questions you may have about the way SR22s work.
To learn more, contact us anytime 24/7 at 424-281-3020.
What Is an SR22?
The SR ("safety responsibility") 22 insurance form is a well known yet often misunderstood legal requirement for those seeking to again legally drive after a DUI suspension.
SR22 is simply a form that the state of California requires to verify that you have complied with all state laws regarding auto liability coverage. Since it is difficult and costly to get auto insurance with a DUI on your record, many might be tempted to drive uninsured after their DUI suspension ends. Thus, California wants extra confirmation that you have been duly insured before driving again after your suspension period ends.
You can get the SR22 form directly from your insurer, though we at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer could also secure it for you if you wish. Once accepted for a policy, it is your insurance company's responsibility to prepare the form and forward it to the DMV. At the Law Offices of Jeff Voll we recommend John MacDonald Insurance for any and all SR22 Insurance needs. You can find them at www.jmacins.com.
In California, auto insurers are always required to report to the state when they have insured a vehicle, and all drivers must produce proof of insurance when registering or renewing the registration on a vehicle. Thus, an SR22 form is an extra requirement but not much out of line with the usual tenor of state insurance laws.
Also note that it is not only those coming off a DUI suspension who must get an SR22. Though DUIs are most closely associated with SR22s, in fact, anyone who needs their license reinstated after a DMV suspension must submit an SR22 insurance certificate. Thus, DUI, wet or dry reckless, operating a vehicle uninsured, getting into an accident as an uninsured motorist, chronically poor driving that leads to a "negligent operator" declaration, and various other violations that lead to a driver's license suspension, will all put you in need of an SR22 form to get your license reinstated.
If you will not be driving any time soon, there is no need to get an SR22, but all vehicles that are under your name must be covered by the insurance policy associated with your SR22 certificate. And if you do not own a car but intend to borrow a friend or family member's car, you must submit a "non-owner's SR22 form" to the DMV.
Finally, we should emphasize that an SR22 is not an insurance policy, as is sometimes mistakenly thought, but simply a "certificate of insurance" or "proof of financial responsibility." The form functions only to verify that you have met the minimum state requirements for auto liability insurance.
The SR22 and Getting a Restricted License
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we fight hard to negotiate for a restricted license for our clients, when a dismissal/acquittal cannot be obtained, so they can at least drive to/from work and DUI School as soon as possible after the mandatory minimum full suspension period.
In order to actually get and use a restricted license, however, you must not only enroll in a state-approved DUI School but must also file an SR22 and pay two fees: a $125 license reissue fee and a $15 restriction fee. Remember to call John MacDonald at www.jmacins.com for all your SR 22 needs.
For a repeat offense, or a conviction in one of the Pilot programs such as Los Angeles County, you will also likely have to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle at your own expense. In some cases, it could be a SCRAM alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet instead (tests your sweat for alcohol content regularly and used for those deemed to be alcoholics as well as DUI violators.)
If you refused the chemical test, you will suffer a one year hard suspension and not be allowed to drive even on a restricted license; but first-time offenders who did not refuse a chemical test are routinely issued a restricted driver’s license providing they enrolled in the first offender’s alcohol given one and allowed to use it till the end of their suspension period.
Also note that, if it becomes apparent that a plea deal in which you will enter a "guilty or no contest" plea in exchange for a reduced charge and or sentence will be resorted to, you can get a head start on filing your SR22. At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we can help you arrange with your insurance company to have your SR22 ready for filing right after your conviction or right after your initial mandatory suspension period ends (often 90 days for first-time DUIs).
The SR22 Process
If you already have an insurance provider, you might want to contact them to inform them of a need for an SR22 although it is not necessary to use your existing insurance carrier. If you are looking for a new insurer, you must ask for an SR22 during the application process. This makes it possible that you will have an existing policy canceled or be refused insurance from a new company. In addition, some insurers do not provide SR22s.
When you ask your insurer for an SR22, they will immediately look at your DMV record to determine why you need the form. If they accept you for insurance, they will file the SR22 for you (often electronically) with the DMV.
It is possible you will have to try several providers before you can locate an auto insurance company that will take you on or that has an affordable rate, since your DUI makes you a high-risk driver.
If you cannot find any insurer at all on your own, we can assist you in locating one. If there simply are no private insurer options, you can still get car insurance through the state-run CAARP (California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan). The CAARP number is 1-800-622-0954.
How Much Will My Premium Be?
In California, as in most states, there are standards for the minimum amount of basic liability auto insurance you must purchase in order to legally drive.
While you can always buy more coverage if desired, your policy must include at least:
- $5,000 of property damage coverage.
- $15,000 per person for bodily injury coverage.
- $30,000 for total bodily injury coverage (all persons). Those filing first receive reimbursements under the terms of the policy, while any others must pursue a separate tort action.
As one coming off a DUI suspension, you may well be content with just the minimum coverage (depending on the value of the vehicle you will drive), especially since your DUI will increase your premiums. However, DUIs on your record are not the only factors that determine how much you pay.
Other premium-determinative factors include:
- Driving record as far as accidents and moving violations.
- How many miles you drive per year.
- What kind of job you have, particularly, how much driving performance of your job will entail.
- What kind of vehicle you plan to drive. Muscle cars and luxury cars will drive up insurance rates.
- The state and locality in which you reside and where you will be driving the car.
- Your age, marital status, gender, and education level.
- Your credit score.
And don't forget that the particular insurance company you choose will also affect your rates quite a bit. Thus, even with a DUI on your record, there are ways to minimize your rates and it pays to "shop around." In general, auto insurance could cost anyone from $300 to $800 per year in California, with DUIs increasing the price tag significantly. If you have other factors in your favor, however, and you choose the right insurer, you could find an affordable policy that at least provides the minimum liability coverage so you can legally drive.
Those with a DUI on their record cannot qualify for a "good driver" discount, regardless of insurer, because state law bars all auto insurance companies in California from giving any "good driver" discounts to DUI offenders for 10 full years after their most recent DUI. There could, however, be other factors in your favor that might mitigate the cost.
Finally, note that some insurers will charge an SR22 filing fee of around $25 to $50 per policy. And you still have to pay the reissue fee to the DMV ($125).
What If I Move Out of State?
Most states require DUI offenders to file an SR22 or equivalent form before getting your driving privileges restored, just like California does. If you move to one of these "SR22 states," your SR22 does not move with you. Each state may have slightly different rules for filing the SR22, and besides, the form is only valid in the state in which it is filed.
Once in your new state, you must go through the SR22 process again with your new insurance company. That company will communicate with the California DMV in getting you legal in your new state, so there is no need for you do that personally.
However, you MUST NOT CANCEL YOUR OLD POLICY BEFORE GETTING A NEW ONE! If you cancel your California auto insurance coverage before you get insured in a new state, there will be a "lapse in coverage," which could lead to your driver's license being suspended all over again.
In a few states, no SR22 requirement exists, but will still need to get new coverage and to get a policy with equal or greater coverage than the California state minimum coverage. Since your DUI happened in California, California law will still affect your insurance standards in this way.
How Long Do I Need the SR22 in Place?
In most cases, you will need an active SR22 form filed with the California DMV for at least 3 years after a DUI suspension ends. In some cases, the requirement could be 5 years or even more.
This does not mean you need to submit an SR22 again each year but simply that you must maintain uninterrupted insurance coverage with a valid SR22 in place during the full period.
If you cancel a policy or an insurance company cancels it on you, you cannot wait even a day without insurance — or you risk having the DMV re-suspend your license.
Should your SR22 become invalid, an SR26 form will be filed in its place, leading to a suspension until a new SR22 is filed.
Thus, you must be careful to pay your insurance premiums on time to avoid getting the policy canceled and have a list of alternate insurers ready at hand in case your policy gets canceled or renewal is denied. We at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer can also assist you in finding a new insurer quickly.
It can clearly be a major SNAFU to have your auto insurance policy in any way disturbed or threatened when you have a DUI on your record and an SR22 form on file with the DMV. That is why we at Los Angeles DUI Lawyer stand ready to assist you through all the complexities and dangers you may encounter in relation to the SR22 form and related requirements.
Contact Us Today for Help
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have intimate knowledge of all the ins and outs of the SR22 insurance form and associated requirements. We can assist you in getting your license reinstated after a DUI suspension or with any other aspect of a DUI case.
For help with your SR22 or for a free consultation on your upcoming DUI case, do not hesitate to contact us 24/7/365 at 424-281-3020.