What Is an SR-22 in California?

by Mary Jane Freeman

In California, like in many other states, residents can have their driving privileges suspended. Reasons can range from unpaid traffic tickets to driving under the influence. Depending on why yours were taken away, you may have to submit an SR-22 to the Department of Motor Vehicles before you're permitted to drive again.

Proof of Liability Insurance

Certain California drivers are required to obtain a California Insurance Proof Certificate, or SR-22, to reinstate their driving privileges. The SR-22 is issued by your insurance company. It assures the DMV that you have liability insurance coverage. If you fail to file your SR-22, your driver's license will remain suspended.

High Risk Drivers

Drivers required to submit an SR-22 to the DMV typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Cited for a major moving violation, especially DUI, reckless driving or hit-and-run;
  • Involved in a motor vehicle accident while uninsured; or 
  • Have a large accumulation of points on driving record within short period of time. 

Drivers may also be required to obtain an SR-22 because a court ordered them to do so. Regardless of whether a court or DMV required the SR-22, the assigning agency will usually notify the affected driver in writing.

Securing SR-22

To obtain an SR-22, request it from your insurance company. You may have to shop around if your current company does not insure such drivers. Depending on the insurance company, you may be able to secure an SR-22 online through the normal insurance enrollment process, or be required to speak with a customer service representative by phone. You must also pay a filing fee to the insurance company. This can vary between carriers, but often starts at $25.

Delivery of SR-22

Once your SR-22 is issued, the insurance company likely will send it to the DMV electronically or by mail. Others will print out the certificate and give it to you to file with the DMV on your own. Even if your insurance company is handling delivery for you, request a copy of the SR-22 for your records. If you are unsuccessful in obtaining a SR-22 through traditional outlets, you can apply for one through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan by calling (800) 622-0954, or have an agent or broker apply to CAARP on your behalf.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.