UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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A DUI is a charge for ‘Driving Under the Influence’. This essentially means that you have been caught driving over the legal limit after drinking alcohol. Undoubtedly, this offense can lead to a number of financial and legal consequences.
As well as facing fines and a potential driving ban, you can also expect your auto insurance rates to increase, which will make it more difficult to get coverage when you are able to return to driving. In recent years, many states have been cracking down on drink driving by enacting stricter penalties and a more uniform set of standards. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been attempting to standardize the legal limit for blood alcohol content at .08% across states.
If you have been charged with a DUI, then you might be wondering how precisely this is likely to impact on your auto insurance and for how long. Read on to learn more.
DUI Policies And Laws
The somewhat positive news for those that have been hit with DUIs, is that it is still possible to get auto insurance. Driving companies do not create ‘DUI specific’ policies, but some will market the fact that they will take on a wider range of customers, including those that have faced legal charges. These driving policies are not marketed as such then but can be considered to effectively be ‘policies for DUIs’.
The bad news is that such auto insurance is likely to cost a lot more – up to 5 times as much as a regular policy in fact. You will also be required to jump through a few more hoops in terms of the legal side of things, specifically, this means you will need to sign an SR-22, which is a ‘proof of financial responsibility’ form. This states that the driver has purchased the necessary amount of liability insurance for their given state. While every driver needs to have this level of coverage, it is only drivers with DUIs that are required to file the SR-22.
Making life a little easier is the fact that many auto insurance companies will file the SR-22 on behalf of their customers. This is something to look into when you take out your policy.
The Cost of a DUI On Your Auto Insurance
Paying five times more for your auto insurance is no small amount and can make it very difficult for some people to return to driving after a DUI.
What’s also important to consider alongside this is the large number of additional costs that will be incurred due to a DUI. For instance, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $2,000 for bail. Likewise, you will pay a similar amount for towing and impound. You’ll also probably need a DUI lawyer, which can cost up to $2,500 and you’ll probably have to pay for court fines, alcohol treatment and education, and more.
When you then consider that your auto insurance costs might go up by $5,000 or more, this becomes highly prohibitive for many drivers.
How Long Will Your “DUI Rates” Last On Your Insurance?
So the big question is how long this is likely to last and the answer is that your DUI will usually drop off of your driving record after 3-7 years. Nevertheless, the infraction will probably stay on your criminal record permanently. After 3-7 years, the DUI should no longer affect your insurance rates but if you find it is, then you may need to look into having the violation expunged or having it listed under your sealed records. Sealed records will only be available to law enforcement officers, thereby ensuring that they won’t impact on your policy.
Why Does Insurance Go Up So Much? And What Can You Do About It
The reason that auto insurance goes up so much, is twofold. The first reason is that drivers with DUIs on their record will be considered riskier for companies to insure. An insurance company’s ideal customer is someone that will take out insurance and thus pay into the policy but that will not need to claim – which costs the company money. If a driver has a DUI on their record however, this suggests they are reckless drivers and means they are statistically more likely to have an accident. The insurance company, therefore, must charge more simply to protect themselves and to remain profitable.
The other reason that DUI drivers will pay more is simply that fewer companies are willing to give them the insurance they need. This creates a ‘seller’s market’ and means that the companies can charge more while remaining competitive.
Other than waiting the required amount of time for your DUI to stop impacting your car insurance, the best things you can do to reduce the cost of driving is to try and reduce the rates in other ways. The most obvious way to do this is to shop around. While you will always pay more following a DUI, the extent to which this is true will depend to a large extent on the nature of the company and its policies. For instance, some insurance companies are designed specifically to appeal to those drivers that struggle to get protection elsewhere – and these might be the best to look for if you want to get cheaper insurance.
Otherwise, try to drive a smaller, slower car, make sure that you are parking it off-road and consider taking additional protection such as a pass-plus (or other safety features) in order to make yourself a more appealing customer. The most important thing, however, is to simply avoid getting a DUI in the first place!