Vehicle Registration Suspension in California

Vehicle Registration Suspension in California

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In California, every driver must carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Driving without insurance — or even simply driving without proof of coverage — can result in steep penalties.

The state uses an electronic database to track car insurance policies. When there's no policy associated with a particular vehicle, the state mails the owner a "Notice of Intent to Suspend." Law enforcement officers can also ask for proof of insurance during traffic stops. If you can't show proof, the state will send you a notice.

If you've received one of these, it's important to act quickly. You may be able to stop the suspension and reinstate your vehicle registration.

Vehicle registration suspended for driving without insurance

According to California's financial responsibility law, every driver must carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. While you might be tempted to skip insurance entirely because of the cost, you might be on the hook for much more if you're caught without it. The state department of motor vehicles can suspend your registration for the following reasons:

  • You don't provide proof of insurance within 30 days of registering your car in the state.
  • You don't provide proof of insurance within 45 days of being contacted by the DMV.
  • You provided false proof of insurance when registering your vehicle.

California may also charge fines and impose other penalties for driving while uninsured.

Reinstating your registration

If you've received a Notice of Intent to Suspend, you'll need to send proof of coverage to the DMV within 30 days and pay a $14 reinstatement fee. You may request a hearing, as long as the request is made within 10 days. But if you don't request the hearing, respond to the notice or provide proof of coverage within 30 days, the DMV will suspend your driving privileges.

If you don't have coverage, we recommend comparing quotes from at least three insurers to find a good rate for auto insurance. You can typically get proof of insurance online almost immediately after purchasing a policy.

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There are three ways to respond to the notice:

1. Respond by phone: Call 800-777-0133.

2. Respond by mail: You can also mail the detachable stub from your notification letter, your proof of insurance and the reinstatement fee to the following address:

DMV-VIP Unit PO Box 997408 MS N305 Sacramento, CA 95899-7408

3. Respond online: Head to the California Online Vehicle Registration Suspension and Insurance Program.

You can reinstate your license online if your insurer participates in the verification program. If your carrier doesn't participate, then you must respond by mail or phone.

But if you are eligible, you can check the status of your vehicle registration and suspension on the website. You may also submit fees and evidence of insurance to reinstate your driving privileges. Here's what to do:

  • Head to the online service portal.
  • Choose "Start."
  • Enter your license plate number and the PIN from your Notice of Intent to Suspend. If you do not have the letter, leave the second box blank and enter the last five digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN) instead.
  • Check whether you owe fees.
  • Electronically submit documents that show proof of financial responsibility.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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