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
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
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.