DUI and car insurance: What happens next?

By Penny Gusner Posted : 12/19/2011

car keys in cocktail glassHere are the answers to three common questions regarding car insurance and alcohol-related driving violations.

What will a DUI conviction do to my car insurance rates?

In general, once your insurance company sees that you have a DUI on your driving record you will see an increase in your auto insurance rates. And it’s not just a little hike in your rate; based on an analysis of car insurance quotes, premium amounts may increase 30 percent to 100 percent, or even more. For instance, in Colorado, your rates may spike up to 30 percent after a DUI violation, while in North Carolina, you get docked 12 points under the Safe Driver Incentive Points system for a DUI, which could cause your rates to jump 340 percent.

 Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is seen as a major offense and seriously risky behavior by car insurance companies, so for that infraction you will be paying a lot more for your car insurance premium and will lose any preferred status that you had obtained.

Your current car insurance company may even cancel you out at the end of your policy, and then you’ll have to find coverage with a new auto insurance company that takes high-risk drivers.

How long will a DUI affect my rates?

Insurance company guidelines, governed by state laws, dictate how long your rates will be affected by a driving DUI conviction.  As with most minor or major convictions, a DUI will keep your rates raised for at least three years.   

If your state keeps the offense on your record longer than three years, and many do, it’s common for this offense to affect your car insurance rates for five years or more.  For instance, in California a DUI prevents you from receiving a safe-driver discount for 10 years from the date of your DUI conviction.  

What is an SR-22 and will it affect my rates?

The SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that many states require when you get your license reinstated after a DUI, though the certificates are not limited to just alcohol-related driving offenses.  

When you are notified of the need to carry a SR-22, you should be told what the minimum car insurance limits are that the state will accept for this filing. When you purchase the required coverage and have your insurer file the SR-22, the form verifies with the state that you have the mandated coverage in place -- the whole reason for the filing.   

You must continue to carry the SR-22 for a certain number of years -- typically three but it ranges from one to five.  If you cancel your insurance during this time period the state will be notified and usually your license and/or vehicle registration will be suspended.

The car insurance coverage that is associated with the SR-22 form will be rated according to all the factors that ordinarily go into rating a policy, regardless of the SR-22 form filing.  The SR-22 itself typically incurs a filing fee of $15 to $25.


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