A charge of driving under the influence can wreak havoc on the driver's personal, business, and financial livelihood. Although the effects of fines, jail time and driver's license suspensions are only temporary, the impact of a DUI on car insurance can affect an offender for years.
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If a driving record includes a DUI conviction, that driver is classified by insurance companies as high-risk. High-risk drivers pay higher insurance rates, and they generally don't qualify for safe-driver discounts. Some insurance companies will not insure DUI offenders, or they might cancel a preferred policy after a conviction.
Insurance companies usually review driving records on two occasions: inception of a new policy, and every three years for existing policies. If the conviction occurs after the insurer's triennial review of motor vehicle records and in a state that does not require SR-22 filing, the insurance company will not be aware of the conviction until its next review of driving records, unless notified of the offence by the insured. Because of this gap in driving record reviews, some DUI offenders slip through the cracks and their rates aren't increased. However, for most offenders, a DUI can result in increased rates until the conviction drops off the driving history that insurers look at for policy premiums, between three and five years.
Most states require drivers convicted of a DUI to file an SR-22 form with the department of motor vehicles. This form is required proof of financial responsibility, and insurance companies must provide the form to the department.
The length of time that an SR-22 is required depends on the state where the DUI took place; it can vary from one to five years. In addition to the increased policy rates, most insurance companies charge an additional fee for filing the SR-22.
If a DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving, the impact on insurance rates will not be as profound. This charge reduction often requires the assistance of an attorney, which will mean more costs with no guarantee on the outcome.
If the DUI occurrence included an accident and/or moving violations, these factors will also be taken into account when determining the rate increase. Multiple offences in a short period usually result in license suspension or revocation because of the number of license points accumulated.
Obtaining new insurance after a DUI conviction is often more challenging than accepting the rate increase imposed by a current insurance provider. Poor credit and a lapse in coverage because of an impounded vehicle or license suspension will add up to very high rates. People convicted of DUI often have better luck working with an independent insurance company, or with one that specialises in high-risk drivers.
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