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How a DUI Affects Car Insurance Rates

Having a drunken driving charge on your driving record will cost you a lot of money, almost two or three times as much just in insurance premiums. Not only will you be paying more for the basic premium, but also you’ll likely lose some of your discounts.

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You might even have your insurance cancelled, as some companies won’t insure you at all with a DUI on your record. Specialty insurance can be even more expensive.

On the Record

Driving under the influence arrests or citations can cost you a lot of money and aggravation. In most states, expect to have you license suspended for at least 30 days even for a first offense. In some states, you’ll lose it for even longer.

Don’t forget that you could also go to jail. This could cause you to lose your job. You’ll definitely lose your pay during that time.

In fact, the Colorado Department of Insurance estimates that a DUI can cost almost $9,000.

This not only includes increased insurance costs, but lawyers’ fees, car towing fees, and legal fines. It does not include any lost wages.

Almost half of that $9,000 is increased insurance costs. Part of the reason insurance costs are so high are those DUIs staying on your record for at least three years. In some states, it is five years. In California, a DUI appears on your record for 10 years. You cannot receive a good drivers discount until that 10-year time period is over.

In Florida, a DUI stays on your permanent driving record for 75 years. States take drunk driving very seriously. The penalties are steep and they make sure that the insurance companies know about them.

If you live in a state that keeps track of driving points, a DUI does add points to your driving record for as long as the state reports it.

These will automatically put you in a higher risk category with insurance companies. Insurance companies determine how much they will charge you based upon how much risk you create for them. Since drunk driving is very risky behavior, they will charge you quite a bit more for it.

Cancellation

Your insurance company may very well cancel your coverage after a DUI or choose not to renew it after it expires. This is even if you can get a company to cover you. If the company does cancel, then you’ll be paying even more once you get another insurance policy, since you have a cancelation of policy on your record.

Many insurance companies won’t cancel if this is your first offense and you have had a clean driving record until that point, but they will raise your rates. However, if you were already considered a high-risk driver, a DUI could push that over the edge. Some companies won’t cover anyone with a DUI.

Remember that if you own a car, you are required to carry insurance on it. It may be more expensive and harder to find insurance once you have a DUI on your record, but you must do so. If you are caught driving without insurance, you will face even more severe consequences, like having your car impounded.

SR-22

Most states require you to submit an SR-22 following a DUI conviction. As the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles explains, an SR-22 is a special form of proof of insurance.

Most people simply need to carry the proof that they have insurance, usually a card issued by the company in their glove boxes. However, some drivers usually because of DUIs must file a form called the SR-22, with their state department of insurance.

This must be done before a driver’s license can be reinstated in most cases. It must also be held on file for a certain amount of time. In Oregon, that’s three years. You must keep an insurance policy with at least the state minimum levels during that time or you will lose your license again.

Most insurers that offer SR-22s will file the form for you. They will also notify the department if you cancel or fail to make payments on the policy. If you don’t own a vehicle, you’ll still need to get this insurance to get your license back. You’ll just need to look into non-owner policies.

Specialty Insurance

If you find yourself without insurance because of a DUI, because your company has canceled or not renewed your policy, you will have to look elsewhere for your insurance needs. Most states have made provisions for people who have trouble finding traditional companies to cover them. To find a list of these companies, go to the website for your state’s department of insurance.

For example, Texas has set up a program called TAIPA, which stands for the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association. The companies that operate under TAIPA offer the basic policies like liability, uninsured motorist, and personal injury protection to those who have been rejected by other companies. Usually must have been refused by at least two companies before being eligible.

There are also private companies who specialize in high-risk drivers. The rates with these companies are often higher than the rates from the state sponsored programs like TAIPA, but there are a few benefits.

Most state programs like TAIPA don’t offer comprehensive or collision coverage, which you are required to have by the lender if you have a car loan. You also don’t have to meet the eligibility requirements. There’s usually less red tape to work through since it is a private company.

Worst Case

Of course, if your DUI led to a fatality, the total cost of the incident will go way up. Whether the person killed was in your car or another vehicle, you’ll probably be looking at a vehicular homicide charge. Not only would this be much more expensive to defend, it will result in a much longer jail time than a DUI.

Even if your DUI doesn’t lead to a death or injury, the insurance costs alone could have you regretting your decision for years.

While many people think this could never happen to them, the statistics show otherwise. In 2005, over 16,000 people were killed in accidents caused by drivers impaired by alcohol according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ways to Save

If you have a DUI on your record, there are still a few ways to save a bit of money on your insurance, though your rates will never be what they were before until the incident goes off your driving record.

Read the Insurance Information Institute’s tips on saving money on car insurance. Even with a DUI, you can still employ many of them.

Call around and get quotes from different companies. Not all companies will charge the same, so put some time into finding the lowest one.

Combine your policies as much as possible. If your company will cover you for auto, see if getting your homeowners or renters insurance with them will give you a discount on both. If you live with a spouse, see if having a lower risk driver on the policy will bring down the total costs for both of you. Having both cars on the policy should also get you a multi-car discount.

Also, try the opposite approach. Get quotes for having you on your own policy. Without you on the policy, the rest of the family’s rates may be much lower, making up for the higher rates you’ll pay.

If you haven’t already done so, take a defensive driving course even if it’s not legally required. Insurance companies usually give you a discount for this. With a DUI on the record, this could show the insurance company that you are trying to become a less risky driver.

If you can get by without it, consider selling your car. As stated earlier, if you are required to get an SR-22, you’ll still have to buy insurance in order to get your license reinstated. However, non-owner auto insurance is much cheaper than traditional insurance, even with a DUI. Since you’ll only have occasional access to a car, you’re considered a much lower risk driver.

This works best for people who have access to public transportation. If you can do without a car for a few years, the savings would be greater. Then you could purchase another car once the DUI goes off the record.

This won’t work for everyone, obviously. If you do keep a car and your regular insurance, ask how much it would save you to raise your deductibles. While this would require you to pay more out-of-pocket if you cause an accident, it will lower your monthly bill.

The best thing you can do is to not drive under the influence ever again. Since the DUI will go away eventually, you can look forward to the day when your insurance rates drop. Nevertheless, if you continue to drive under the influence, you’ll be paying for it for quite a while.

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