Auto Insurance Basics

Vehicle Registration Suspension in California

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Did you receive a “Notice of Intent to Suspend” in the mail out of the blue? You might be very confused, especially if you are actually insured. Typically the California DMV sends drivers a Notice of Intent to Suspend when they are unable to find a record of insurance coverage for your vehicle, or has received an accident report that alleges that you, a driver involved in an accident, did not have proper auto insurance coverage at the time of the collision. In order to stop the suspension, or to reinstate a suspended registration, you must provide valid proof of insurance to the DMV within a set time limit in the Golden State.

Vehicle Registration Suspended for Driving Without Insurance

You are required by California’s Financial Responsibility law to carry at least the minimum auto insurance coverage. While motorists may be tempted to avoid the cost of insurance by not purchasing a proper policy, you are actually exposing yourself to the risk of greater financial burden should you cause an accident in California. The CA DMV will suspend your registration for any one of the following reasons:

  • You have not provided valid proof of insurance within the 30 days after your vehicle registration card is issued, or transfer of ownership.
  • 45 days have passed since the DMV was notified, either by the insurer or any officials, such as law enforcement, that your policy has been canceled, or you did not possess valid proof of insurance. 
  • The proof of insurance you provided at the time of registration was proven false.

In addition to the potential suspension, you may get assessed fines or penalties in California for operating a car while uninsured.

Reinstating Your Registration

You have the right to request a hearing upon receiving the notice of intent, but your request must be made within 10 days of receiving the letter or your right to a hearing will be waived. If you do not respond, or present proof of financial responsibility, within 30 days after receiving the notice, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege. Make sure to act quickly upon receiving a Notice of Intent to Suspend letter, or your driving privileges could be suspended even if you do have auto insurance! Other than providing evidence of insurance, there will also be a $14 reinstatement fee. There are three ways to respond to the notice of intent and/or notice of suspension for resinstatement:

1. Respond by Phone: 1 (800) 777-0133. 

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

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

3. Respond Online: California Online Vehicle Registration Suspension and Insurance Program

If you’re positive that you have auto insurance, and your insurance company is one of these insurance companies, you can reinstate through the CA DMV's online service. It allows you to check the status of your vehicle registration insurance and your suspension, as well as submit any necessary fines and evidence of insurance in order to reinstate your registration. However, if your carrier doesn't file your insurance information electronically with the DMV in California, you must respond by other means. Here is how you use the website:

  1. Go to the Online Service Portal by clicking on the link.
  2. Click "Insurance Inquiry".
  3. Log in by entering your license plate number, as well as the PIN assigned to you on your Notice of Intent to Suspend letter. If you do not have the letter, leave the second box blank and enter your vehicle's VIN instead.
  4. Check for a fee, which you need to pay if that’s what shows on your record.
  5. Submit proof of financial responsibility documents electronically. Once you are verified to have an active auto insurance policy, you should be good to go.

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