How Does a DUI Affect Insurance Rates?
A DUI conviction can lead to serious legal and insurance consequences. Fines, license suspension, and prison time are some of the penalties that the court can impose. When you drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your judgment, coordination, and response times are impaired. You are much more likely to be in an accident if your driving abilities aren’t up to par, making auto insurance providers apprehensive about potential claim payouts. As such, if you are convicted of a DUI, your insurance company will likely raise your rates.
For most, this change can be quite drastic. In the U.S., the national average auto insurance rate increase following a DUI is around 70%, compared to only about 20% for a speeding ticket. However, California’s average increase is much higher at around 150%. This could translate to over an extra thousands of dollars a year for car insurance. Since a DUI is considered a major infraction to insurance companies, they can increase your rates by a hefty amount and keep them high for three to five years. In addition to a rate increase, you will lose any good driving discounts during the entirety of the 10 years that the DUI is on your driving record. After the 10 year period, the DUI is not longer on your record and cannot affect your insurance.
In severe cases, insurance companies may consider a convicted driver to be too risky to grant him a policy. When drivers are denied coverage, they must turn to special insurance companies that provide insurance to high-risk drivers. These special companies have significantly higher rates than normal insurers in order to compensate for a higher degree of risk that you will get into another accident.
How Can I Maintain or Lower My Insurance Rates After a DUI?
A DUI’s impact on insurance is complicated, but it doesn’t always have to affect your rates. Firstly, insurance companies cannot adjust your rates before it is time for renewal, unless you apply for new coverage. Therefore, if you still have several months in your current term, you should wait until your current policy expires before applying for new coverage. Once your current term expires, then insurance companies may raise your rates based on your DUI. But this only applies if your insurance company knows about your DUI arrest.
In some cases, you may not need to disclose your DUI arrest to your insurance company. The DMV usually suspends your driver’s license 30 days after you’re arrested for a DUI, known as the administrative suspension that happens before your court trial. If your license was suspended in this way, you need a special form called the SR-22 in order to regain your license. The SR-22 is what informs your insurance company of your DUI because you must call your insurer to request it.
However, you may be able to avoid administrative suspension and never need a SR-22. In order to fight your suspension, it is crucial that you secure an expert DUI attorney as soon as possible and request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest. Once you request a hearing, the DMV will halt all action against your license. Your attorney will have the chance to review your case and defend you at the DMV hearing, which may take a few months. If you win the DMV hearing, then your license will not be suspended and you will not need a SR-22.
In the case that you lose your hearing, you have no choice but to file a SR-22 and notify your insurance company. But there are still different ways to minimize your insurance rate increases due to a DUI. For example, taking a driving course may help you secure a discount from your insurer. If your insurer does drastically raise your rates, shop around for the best rates. Some companies may still offer you a better deal even with a DUI. Of course, the best way to avoid any insurance increase is to not be convicted of a DUI in the first place, so contact our skilled DUI attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible after your arrest to see how we can help you maintain your driving privileges and insurance rates.
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If you have been arrested for a DUI, you need an experienced defense team to represent you. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with their DUIs and restored their driving privileges with great success. We have the skills and resources to help you as well.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
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