California is a fault insurance state, which requires drivers responsible for a motor vehicle accident to pay for their victims’ damages. When there’s a motor vehicle accident, there is almost always one or multiple parties found liable for any damages victims of their negligence sustained.

To uphold this financial responsibility and comply with California state law, drivers must carry specific amounts of car insurance. Not all drivers comply with this requirement. However, failure to do so may result in hefty fines and other penalties. Additionally, uninsured motorists may be solely responsible for their victims’ damages, costing them thousands of dollars.

What Are California Auto Insurance Requirements?

Liability insurance tackles the financial burden of medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages victims of a negligent driver may have sustained. All California drivers must carry the following amounts in insurance:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person per accident
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage per accident

If drivers do not wish to purchase liability coverage, they can also comply with California’s insurance laws by using:

  • A self-insurance certificate from the California DMV
  • A cash deposit of $35,000 to the DMV
  • A $35,000 surety bond from a California-licensed issuer

Drivers can purchase higher coverage amounts if they choose, but every driver must have the minimum amount of coverage listed above. Additional coverage includes uninsured or underinsured motorists’ coverage and medical payment coverage to pay for your own accident losses or damages you sustain should the other driver not have insurance or enough coverage.

California Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Failure to comply with California insurance laws may result in serious penalties.

  • First Conviction: a fine between $100 to $250 and a penalty assessment. Additionally, the court can decide to impound your vehicle.
    Second Conviction: a fine between $200 to $500 and the possibility of getting your vehicle impounded.
  • If an uninsured driver is involved in an accident, they are liable; not only do they face the financial burden of paying for the victim’s damages, but they face additional penalties.
  • In addition to the penalties listed above, first-time offenders face the possibility of a mandatory one-year license suspension. Their license may be reinstated if they maintain an SR-22 and proof of financial responsibility for three years.

Second-time and subsequent offenders may face up to four years of license suspension. They may have their license reinstated after three years of suspension if they provide an SR-22 and maintain it.

What is an SR-22?

An SR-22 form or certificate of financial responsibility states that the driver has the minimum amount of liability car insurance to comply with California law. Once a driver applies for an SR-22 with an insurance company, they can apply to have their license reinstated. An SR-22 also places drivers into the high-risk driver category, which results in higher insurance premiums.

Work with Experienced California Car Accident Attorneys

At Setareh Law, we pride ourselves on offering our clients unmatched service and being constantly accessible to our clients. We understand that car accident injuries can severely and negatively impact a victim’s life, which is why we are passionate about advocating for the rights and interests of our injured clients.

If someone’s negligent behavior has injured you, you have the right to file a personal injury claim. Setareh Law is here to help pursue your legal right to compensation so that you can focus on recovering. You can schedule a consultation on our website by filling out our contact form or calling (310) 659-1826. We also speak Spanish.