One of the worst things any driver on the road would like to experience is being given a DUI charge. DUI, or driving under the influence, means that the person was driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or some other substance. Being charged with a DUI could come unexpectedly. It could be after a night out with friends or while coming back from a party during the holidays, and we convince ourselves that the wine we took does not have any or as much effect on us and cannot impair our driving skills. This may just land you a DUI charge.
A lot of things follow a DUI charge, such as suspension of license to DUI attorney costs, court costs to probation fees, paying for a driver’s intervention program, among others. But one of the impacts one rarely considers is the fact that a DUI conviction could affect your insurance rates.
How a DUI Affects Your Insurance Rate
In very simple terms, if you have just been charged with a DUI, your insurance rates will go up. This is because once your insurance company finds out about the conviction, they place you as a high-risk driver, meaning that insuring you will be harder than before because you are likely to drive inebriated again. The reason for that is because a person driving under the influence may easily lose control of the wheels and be involved in an accident that could be easily avoided, which could turn out to be very expensive for the insurance company to manage.
The rates could go up to 87% for a state like Florida and 60% for a state like Texas. Different states have laws that affect how much an insurance company could increase your insurance rate. A state like Arizona could insurance companies that increase the rate by 151%. Having a history of DUI conviction also places you at higher risks and increases the rate you pay. This is even worsened by if there was an accident as a result of your drunk driving.
Cancellation of Coverage
It may get worse if your insurance company decides to stop covering you. This is because not all insurance companies cover high risks drivers, especially if this is a repeated offense. The company would wait for your current subscription to expire before dropping you, without giving you the option of renewing it or could even drop you right away.
What to do After a DUI Conviction
The most important thing to do after a conviction is to cooperate with the officials. Pay every fine and obey every court order, especially if your license has been suspended. Try to pass the message, through your actions, that you have learned from the conviction. Follow through with everything you have to do to be on the good side of the law.
As for your insurance, there is the possibility that they may have discovered your conviction. In the event that they do not drop you, your rates would increase. Now, there is no way to be sure of knowing how much rate you would pay beforehand as no two cases are the same. But certain things could affect your rate increment, such as
Records: If this is your first DUI charge, then your insurance company might be lenient on how much percentage increase they put on your current rate. It even gets better if you gave a clean record with no past accidents or traffic offense as that reduces the risks surrounding you.
Repeat Offenders: People who are charged with a DUI for a second or third time would get a significantly higher rate increase. Although they would not feel it as they have been paying a high rate before
State Laws: The state laws could also affect how high your insurance rate could go. A state like North Carolina could increase your rate by almost 300%
You might even be lucky that your offense does not appear in motor vehicle records. That way, your insurance company may never find out about your conviction. Possible reasons why this might occur could be cooperation on your part, where you take a guilty plea, or when you do defensive driving school. That is why you must cooperate with the court.
Also, some insurance companies may reduce your insurance rate if you have been paying for years and have not been involved in any DUI case or similar traffic case. If you keep a clean record while constantly renewing your policy with the company, then they may just reduce the rates you pay, although there is no given time as to when they might do so.
What is a Form SR-22?
A form SR-22 is a form that you get from your insurance company which you take to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as proof that you are covered by liability insurance. By presenting the form to them, they may then lift the suspension of your license. Some states would require you to present proof of auto insurance to the DMV for five years just so you can keep your license.
Also, requesting for a form SR-22 signals your insurance company of a possible DUI charge. If you cancel your insurance or miss a payment, the insurance company has the right to tell the DMV who may then suspend your license again.
However, not all insurance companies issue the SR-22 forms as they would rather cancel your subscription or stop you from renewing. These sorts of insurance companies can not cover high-risk drivers.
Getting in Touch With an Attorney
Being given a DUI charge can be very tough to cope with. Besides the many initial costs you are going to pay, you would also have to get used to paying double or triple your current auto insurance rates. This can be hard to adjust to as there is no possible limit on when you might stop. You can talk to an attorney about how to face your DUI charge or possible ways the charge could affect your insurance rate.