The California Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law requires every driver and every owner of a motor vehicle to maintain financial responsibility (liability coverage) at all times. There are 4 forms of financial responsibility:
You must possess evidence of financial responsibility whenever you drive, and show it to a peace officer after a traffic stop or collision when asked to do so. You may have to pay a fine or have your vehicle impounded if you do not comply with this law.
The law states that you must be financially responsible for your actions whenever you drive and for all the motor vehicles you own. Most drivers choose to have a liability insurance policy as proof of financial responsibility. If you have a collision not covered by your insurance, or you do not have insurance, your DL will be suspended. If the driver is not identified, the owner of the motor vehicle involved in a collision will have their DL suspended.
The minimum amount your insurance* must cover per collision is:
* Low cost automobile policies are available in Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus counties. Please contact your insurance agent.
Call 1-800-927-HELP before you purchase insurance to confirm that your agent/broker and insurer are licensed by the California Department of Insurance.
If you are visiting California or have just moved here, be aware that not all out-of-state insurance companies are authorized to do business in California. Before you drive here, ask your insurance company if you are covered in case of a collision. If you have a collision in California, all 3 of the following conditions must be met to avoid the suspension of your driving privilege:
DMV retains information on every collision reported to DMV by:
It does not matter who caused the collision; DMV must keep this record.
If you are under 18 years old, your parent(s) or guardian(s) must sign your DL application and assume financial responsibility for your driving. When you reach age 18, your parent(s) or guardian(s)’ liability automatically ends.
If you are involved in a collision, your parent(s) or guardian(s) may be liable for civil damages and you may also be fined.
Exception: Your parent(s) or guardian(s) can have your DL cancelled at any time while you are a minor.
If you are stopped by a peace officer and cited for a traffic law violation, you sign a promise to appear in traffic court. When you go to court, you may plead guilty or not guilty, or you may forfeit (pay) the citation fine. Paying the fine is the same as a guilty plea.
If you ignore the traffic ticket and do not keep your promise to appear in court, the failure to appear (FTA) goes on your driver record. Even a single FTA can cause DMV to suspend your DL. To end the suspension, you must clear all FTAs with the court, and pay a DL reissue fee of $55.
Legislation effective June 27, 2017, no longer allows courts to notify DMV if you fail to pay a fine (FTP). Failing to pay a fine will no longer result in the suspension of your driver license. To get more information about the new law, visit DMV’s website at www.dmv.ca.gov.
Each time you are convicted of a moving traffic law violation, the court notifies DMV and the conviction is placed on your DL record. Convictions reported by other states are also added to your driver record.
Any person, while operating a motor vehicle, who willfully flees or attempts to evade a peace officer performing their duties is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 1 year (CVC §2800.1).
If a person is convicted of causing serious bodily injury during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800.3(a)), they are subject to:
When a person is convicted of manslaughter resulting from evading police during a pursuit, they are subject to imprisonment in a state prison for a minimum of 4 to 10 years (CVC §2800.3(b)).
Your traffic convictions and collisions stay on your record for 36 months, or longer, depending on the type of conviction.
The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) is based on negligent operator points and consists of a computer generated series of warning letters and progressive sanctions against the driving privilege.
You may be considered a negligent operator when your driving record shows one of the following “point count” totals:
Note: The point count may vary for commercial drivers. For detailed point count information, refer to the California Commercial Driver Handbook (DL 650) (PDF).