California SR-22 Insurance

An SR-22 is a document issued by an auto insurer to the State indicating that you carry sufficient insurance to satisfy that state’s Financial Responsibility Law.  States demand one from a driver when they have either been convicted of specific crimes or have failed to show evidence of financial responsibility in the even they are found to be at fault in an accident.  Should an SR-22 be required, you are barred from driving until you provide one and maintain the underlying insurance to support the proof of financial responsibility.

Non Owners Insurance in California

If you do not own a vehicle, but need to have an SR-22 in order to drive, you will need to obtain an Operator’s Policy also known as a Named Non Owner Policy, which provides you with liability insurance coverage should you operate a vehicle that is uninsured.  Otherwise, you will need an auto insurance policy that provides liability coverage for both you and your auto.

How an SR-22 Affects your Rates.

Because the insured has a blemished driving record, they will not get the lowest rates for coverage.  That being said, one should comparison shop and compare rates for the policy itself as well as any fees related to filing an SR-22.  It should also be noted that if you need to have an SR-22 processed quickly, the fees to do so will not be inexpensive.

Limitations of SR-22 Coverage

Another thing to note is that the policy itself may have terms and conditions that may limit coverage under certain circumstances.  For example, should you be involved in an accident and you are using the vehicle in commission of a crime (and the definition of crime includes driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs) coverage for damage to your auto may evaporate.  In addition, the limits for third party liability coverages in the event the auto is used during a crime will be reduced to the statutory minimum required by the state.

Once the period for which your need to supply an SR-22 ends, you will then have much more flexibility to select an insurance policy as more insurers will be willing to insure you with a better rate.  In addition, you will no longer need to pay any fees associated with processing the document.

How Long Will I Need to File and SR-22 in California?

You will need to file an SR-22 for three continuous years.

What Happens if I Fail to Maintain my SR-22

Failure to maintain proof of financial responsibility will result in your insurance company sending an SR-26 to the state advising that your policy is canceled.  This will result in your driving privilege being suspended again, and the period for which you will need to provide SR-22s will start from zero again.  For example, you are notified that your driving privilege has been suspended until you file an SR-22, and you will have to prove financial responsibility for three years following the initial filing.  You cause an SR-22 to be submitted and, because you failed to pay an installment on your premium, your policy has been canceled after six months.  An SR-24 gets filed and your driving privilege is again suspended until you prove financial responsibility.  You get another policy and and SR-22 issued.  You will have to keep filing SR-22s for three years after the second SR-22 is filed.

Why Would I Need to File an SR-22 in the First Place?

In California, your driver license can be revoked for severe, flagrant, aggravated and reckless driving acts in which the driver disregarded foreseeable consequencessuch as:

  • Driving at high speed in heavy traffic during peak driving hours.
  • Attempting to evade law enforcement
  • Driving under the influence combined with reckless driving acts leading to an accident.
  • Flagrant disregard involving foreseeable risk of traffic laws, signals or signs, weather or road conditions, known mechanical defects, or pedestrians
  • Racing
  • Recklessly driving a vehicle they are not quailfied to drive (example – someone who is licensed to drive a passenger car is recklessly driving a tractor trailer combination.)

In California, your driver license can be suspended for:

  • Being a negligent operator.  Traffic convictions in California are assigned anywhere from zero to three points based on the offense.  An example of a zero point conviction would be operating a motor vehicle without a functioning license plate light.  An example of a one point convicition would be speeding.  Hit and run driving would be an example of a two point conviction.  A three point conviction would be a similar offense in a commercial vehicle.

    When a driver reaches certain thresholds the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send a Warning, followed by a Notice of Intention to Suspend, followed by a Notice of Suspension / Probation  The number of points that trigger these actions are as follows:


Time Frame Warning Sent Notice of Intention to Suspend Sent Notice of Suspension / Probation Sent
Within 12 months 2 3 4
Within 24 months 4 5 6
Within 36 months 6 7 8


The suspension period is for six months and the driver will concerrently be under probation for a year.  The suspension period can extend for an additional six months and the probation another year if the driver is convicted for any moving violation or involved in an accident regardless of who is at fault.  Should there be a third probation violation within the probation period, the license is revoked for one year.

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol

  • Were involved in a car accident that resulted in injury, death or property damage over $750 and did not have proof of financial responsibility.  In California, Proof of Financial Responsibility means:

    • A certificate of Self Insurance issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
    • An automobile liability policy, a motor vehicle liability policy, or bond in effect at the time of the accident with respect to the driver or the motor vehicle involved in the accident
    • The United States of America, this state, any municipality or subdivision thereof, or the lawful agent thereof
    • A cash deposit of $30,000

  • Failure to appear in court on a traffic citation

  • Failure to pay Family Support.  This suspension falls under the auspicies of the California Welfare and Institutions Code rather than the California Vehicle Code.

  • Having a physical or mental condition / disorder that renders you unable to drive a motor vehicle safely.  If you lack the cognitive ability to drive a car, you may be examined more frequently, have your license restricted or, if you have a condition which is permanent and progressive that affects your ability to drive a car, suspended indefinitely.


If your license has been suspended for any of the last three reasons, you will not have to file an SR – 22.  For failure to appear in court, you will need to appear and also pay a reissue fee of $55.00.  For failure to pay Family Support, you must make arrangements to pay what is owed and pay the reissue fee.  For physical conditions that render you unable to drive a motor vehicle, you need to file a satisfactory Driver Medical Evaluation with the DMV.

In all other cases, you will need to file an SR – 22 as part of the process to get your driver license restored.

Once I File Proof of Financial Responsibility, How Do I Get My Driving Privilege Restored in CA?

If your driver license was suspended for being a Negligent Operator, you will also be required to:

  • Complete negligent operator probation without incurring a traffic violation or being involved in an avoidable accident.
  • Pay all fines
  • Pay the $55.00 reinstatement fee to the DMV.

If your license was suspended because you were involved in an accident and could not prove financial responsibility you will have to;

  • Serve a mandatory one year suspension
  • Pay the DMV the $55.00 reinstatement fee.

If your license was suspended for Driving Under the Influence, you will need to do the following:

  • Complete the your suspension period.
  • If applicable, complete any jail sentence.
  • Pay the reinstatement fee.
  • File a Notice of Completion Certificate showing that you completed a Driving Under the Influence Treatment Program.
  • Pay fines to the court.

In addition, your Driver License may be restricted to require that in Ignition Interlock Device be installed in your car.  An ignition interlock device requires that the driver breathe into a breathalyzer before they start their car.  The breathalyzer will then test for alcohol consumption and prevent the car from being started should the driver be intoxicated.  In addition, the ignition interlock device will request a breath sample at random intervals while the driver is operating the car.  One thing it won’t do is shut the car off while you are driving should you be intoxicated.

There is a fee for installation and purchase of the device as well as for maintenance.  These vary, so you may want to shop for the best deal.

You will be required to file a Verification of Instillation of Ignition Interlock form with the DMV and pay an additional $200.00 in fees to the DMV.

You will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed on your car for a time period based on your conviction history and the if the incident resulted in injury.  The time periods are as follows:

Number of convictinos in the past 10 years Time period for non injury offenses Time period for injury or Vehicular Manslaughter Offenses
0 None 1 Year
1 1 Year 2 Years
2 2 Years 3 Years
3 or more 3 Years 3 Years
1 or more felony convictions 3 Years 4 Years

In summary, If you have had your driver license suspended or revoked, you will need and SR – 22.  In addition, there will be several steps you need to take in order to partially have your driving privilege restored so that you may be able to drive again even after you have been sanctioned.