Having a few drinks after work and then getting in your car to drive home may not seem like a big deal but it can have a huge impact on your car insurance premiums if you are pulled over and found to be driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI is one of the most damaging things that can happen to both your driving record and your insurance premium.
Driving under the influence happens more often than most people would think. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 there was an alcohol related death in the U.S every 51 minutes. Over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics according to the FBI.
While it is possible that your insurer may not find out about your DUI immediately, eventually it will come to light. Insurers do not check your driving record every year, which may leave your DUI undetected unless the state you are in requires notification. However, once an insurer becomes aware of a DUI you can expect skyrocketing rates or even cancellation of coverage.
The laws regarding DUI’s and auto insurance will vary by state. Each state sets their own blood alcohol limits as well as policies regarding notification of the drivers insurance company and whether the driver must seek coverage in a high-risk pool.
Many states require drivers to obtain a SR-22 form from their auto insurer which will immediately bring your infraction to the attention of your insurance company.
The SR-22 is basically a certificate of financial responsibility that the state requires to get your license reinstated.
Each state will notify drivers who need to carry a SR-22 what the minimum car insurance limits they must have to get their license back. When the proper coverage is purchased the insurer will file the SR-22 with the state verifying that you have insurance coverage.
Not all insurance companies even offer SR-22 coverage so you may be cancelled and have to find a new insurer.
Once filed you will need to carry a SR-22 for a certain number of years. It will vary by state but in most cases it is at least 3 years and often runs to five years. If you cancel your insurance or are dropped due to non-payment your insurer will immediately notify the state and your license and/or vehicle registration will be suspended.
How Will it Affect My Rates?
If you have been convicted of a DUI your insurance rates are headed up. It will obviously vary by state and your insurer but at a minimum you are looking at a 30 percent increase and in most cases it will go up 100 percent. In North Carolina for example, a DUI will put 12 points on your license which can possibly end in a premium jump of over 300 percent. A DUI conviction is considered a major violation and insurers will look at you as a serious risk, any discounts and preferred status will most likely disappear.
Premiums will remain high for at least 3 years and in many cases you will end up paying higher rates for five years. California takes it a bit further and keeps drivers with a DUI on their record from receiving a safe driver discount for 10 years.
A DUI will affect your insurance rates for a number of years and in most states you will have to file a SR-22 form.
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