An SR-22 form is proof that you have auto insurance. It's a form that's filed by your insurance company with the state of California.

You may be required to have SR-22 insurance in California if:

  • You're convicted of a major motor vehicle violation such as a DUI, reckless driving or hit and run.
  • California decides you're a "negligent operator" and suspends or revokes your driver's license. You become a negligent operator when you get enough points on your license due to at-fault accidents and traffic violations such as speeding, following too closely and illegal passing.
  • You didn't have liability car insurance at the time of an accident.
  • You need to get your license reinstated after paying an "unsatisfied judgment" (a lawsuit judgment you didn't pay).

Source: Insurance Industry Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration

See the list of points for various traffic violations from the California DMV.

If you have a SR-22 insurance in California and stop paying your auto insurance bill, your insurer must let the California DMV know within 10 days of termination of the coverage.

How long does a California SR-22 last?

A California SR-22 filing period is usually three years, according to the Insurance Industry Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration (IICMVA), a group of trade associations and auto insurance companies. But you might need an SR-22 longer if you were in an accident without insurance or had your license revoked after a civil judgment.

Cheap SR-22 insurance in California

The expensive part of an SR-22 isn't the form itself, it's the car insurance rates for the underlying problem that requires an SR-22, such as a DUI.

Even drivers with poor records and SR-22s can potentially save money by shopping around for quotes. Get quotes from at least a few companies to compare your choices.

In some cases drivers have records so bad that they can't find auto insurance on the "voluntary market" -- meaning no one will sell them insurance. If you find yourself being turned down, an auto insurance agent can help you find coverage through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. This is a program that assigns insurers to high-risk drivers.