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How a DUI impacts your car insurance

A night out with friends turns into a night with one too many drinks. Instead of calling for a ride home, you decide to get behind the wheel. The flashing lights that soon show up behind you signal this was a bad decision. 

You have a million thoughts running through your head, from possible costs to what you’re going to tell your friends. But a DUI conviction goes beyond the present and your driving record, affecting your future, too. One of those impacts is your car insurance rates. If you had cheap car insurance before the DUI, expect those rates to go up, and you might have trouble getting any coverage at all.

Impact of a DUI

If you’re convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), there are consequences reaching beyond the court system. Depending on your history and the severity of the offense, you might incur:

  • A fine reaching several hundred dollars
  • Jail time
  • Loss of driving privileges—a license suspension or restriction
  • Mandatory enrollment in a DUI program
  • Probation in lieu of jail time
  • Community service requirements
  • A court-ordered mandate to use an ignition interlock device
  • Required attendance at AA meetings
  • Impoundment of your vehicle

This isn’t a complete list, but in general, if you’re convicted of a DUI, you may face jail time and substantial fines, especially if you’re a repeat offender. State laws and regulations vary, as do the consequences. If you’re a first-time DUI offender, most states mandate a probationary period of approximately three years. However, in some states, your conviction could remain on file for longer. 

A DWI or OWI—are these the same as a DUI?

Essentially, yes. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and operating while intoxicated (OWI) are criminal offenses involving operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the state limit. States vary in how these terms are used, and often, these terms are used interchangeably. 

Will I have problems getting insurance after a DUI?

If you’re convicted of DUI, you may have trouble obtaining coverage. Drivers who are convicted of DUI are usually considered high-risk or nonstandard drivers—and not all car insurance companies offer nonstandard car insurance. Even when you find a company offering coverage, you may end up paying a lot more than drivers without a DUI conviction. 

If you can’t afford to pay the increased rates for car insurance, you do have options. However, driving without insurance is not one of them. Every state has minimum car insurance requirements.

Consider taking public transportation, walking, or biking. You might also consider purchasing a Dairyland® non-owner car insurance policy, with SR22 insurance, if you don’t own a vehicle but need to drive from time to time. It’s a cheaper car insurance option. 

Luckily, there are companies like Dairyland that understand mistakes happen and are available to provide options in times like this.

Tell me more about an SR22

If you incur a DUI conviction, you may be required to have a certificate of insurance with their respective state that proves you’re meeting your state’s car insurance coverage requirements. These certificates are typically known as SR22s or, if in Florida or Virginia, FR44s. At minimum, you’ll need to purchase liability coverages to get the filing.

When you buy your auto insurance, the insurance company will give you this form and send a copy to the state. Note that some insurance companies charge you for this filing. However, at Dairyland, we do it for free.

What else affects my car insurance premiums?

When determining the appropriate policy and rates for a driver who has a DUI conviction on their record, insurance companies may take into account more than just the DUI. They may also look at driving history for speeding tickets, lapses in insurance coverage, multiple car accidents, or excessive insurance claims. 

How can I get my license back?

Some states require a mandatory hearing within a 30-day period of the offense. At this hearing, you may get your license back. However, it might be a restricted license. Getting a restricted license generally requires three actions on your behalf:

  • Show proof of enrollment in an approved DUI program
  • Show proof of financial responsibility—depending on your state, an SR22 or a FR44
  • Pay a re-issue fee to the state licensing department

You should also consult the appropriate court or an attorney where you live for specific requirements.

What’s an ignition interlock device?

If you’re convicted of multiple DUI offenses or per court order, an ignition interlock device may be installed on your vehicle. This device measures the BAC of the driver, and won’t allow the car to start if the driver’s BAC is over the state’s legal limit or the limit the court has set on the device. 

Getting a DUI isn’t a fun experience and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, it’s not the end of the world. When it comes to getting car insurance and being legal on the road, we can help. Get in touch with us.