Facing the threat of a DUI conviction is difficult in and of itself, but the consequences of being found guilty of driving while intoxicated go beyond the courtroom. In most states, being convicted of drunk driving will lead to your automobile insurance rates going up, often for three years or more. Want to know exactly how a DUI conviction could affect your insurance rates? This guide covers the basics.
Driving Records and a DUI
Most auto insurance companies routinely check their customers’ driving records for the purposes of classifying drivers, and a DUI can be a one-way ticket to a high-risk driver classification and steep rate increases. Even if your automobile insurance firm doesn’t immediately notice your drunk driving conviction, your history will eventually come back to haunt you. In cases where you’re applying for new car insurance, a DUI conviction can be grounds for insurance companies to reject your application for insurance.
SR-22 Insurance Laws
Thought auto insurance laws vary by state, it’s common for anyone who has been convicted of a DUI to have to file an SR-22, possibly for several years. For a first time offense in most states, premiums will typically be affected for three years at most. This is a statement of financial responsibility that proves you have the amount of insurance required by your state, and it is typically filed after the period of license suspension is over. Having an SR-22 will almost always put you into a higher risk category of driver in the eyes of car insurance companies, who are then required to notify the licensing agency, usually the department of motor vehicles, if your policy is canceled, terminated, or lapses.
Note: Not all insurance companies offer SR-22 policies. If yours is one of these and you are required to file an SR-22, the company will cancel or decline to renew your policy.
How High Will Your Premiums Go?
A drunk driving conviction can mean that your auto insurance policy premiums will double or even triple, and this increase in cost can last for years. Your ability to earn safe driver discounts and other benefits will typically be rescinded, at least until the SR-22 is no longer in effect. However, do shop around – there are some auto insurance companies that specialize in offering somewhat less expensive high-risk premiums.
How Long Will Your Rates Increase?
Again, laws vary from state to state, but generally a drunk driving conviction will affect your insurance status for at least three years in most states for a first offense. For subsequent convictions, the length of time is much longer.
New drunk driving laws in some states now spell out enhanced penalties in DUI cases that include special circumstances and may have a further deleterious effect on your premiums. These can come into play when someone was injured by a drunk driver or if a child was in the vehicle at the time of arrest, a blood alcohol concentration that exceeded a certain level, or cases where the accused is under 21 years of age.
In the end, it’s unlikely that anyone comes out on the other side of a DUI conviction without suffering at least some changes to their auto insurance policy and premiums. The best thing you can do, aside from avoiding a drunk driving arrest, is to call an experienced DUI lawyer before you end up facing a conviction.
DUI attorney Michael Bowser has years of experience successfully defending those accused of drunk driving in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If you have been charged with a DUI in Massachusetts or New Hampshire or have questions about DUI penalties in either state, it is vital that you talk to representation who understands the law. Call Attorney Michael Bowser today at 1-888-5BOWSER to discuss DUI penalties and your individual circumstances.