How Will DUI Affects Your Car Insurance

October 6, 2016

How DUI Affect Your Insurance

This article discusses How DUI Affect Your Insurance.  Click on the links below to go directly to your topic of interest.

Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, commonly referred to as DUI and DWI, is one of the several societal problems that the criminal justice system in California tries to address.  Many DUI judges and prosecutors in Los Angeles believe that DUI is one of the most serious crimes in existence.  This position is not supported by evidence and instead is based on a belief that a person who drinks in drives in Los Angeles will eventually cause an accident and kill someone.  This thinking is based on data that in the United States, DUI-related deaths account for 31% of all motor vehicle fatalities.  For that reason, States put a lot of money into arresting and prosecuting DUI cases.  In California, there are around 200,000 DUI arrests every year.  Not all DUI arrests result in prosecutions, but the statistics are staggering and is equal to over 500 DUI arrest each day.   Because Los Angeles is the most populous country in California, a lot of those 500 arrests are actually DUI arrests in Los Angeles.  Because a garden variety DUI offense, without aggravating factors, is a misdemeanor, most Los Angeles DUIs are misdemeanors.  Such aggravating factors include multiple priors, injuries, or prior felony DUI arrests within 10 years.  The penalty for a DUI case varies from:

  • no jail time for a first-offense DUI in Los Angeles to,
  • a maximum of 3 years in prison for a person with a prior felony DUI conviction in the past 10 years, to,
  • a maximum of 7 years for a felony DUI with a serious injury (known as a GBI allegation under California Penal Code 12022.7), adding 1 year for each additional victim and, even
  • 11 years or even a life sentence if someone dies as a result of a DUI accident. 

The penalty also varies for the driver’s license (involving DMV mostly) such as license suspension and/or revocation.

Apart from the DUI legal consequences, a person arrested for DUI in Los Angeles will have collateral consequences of a DU – such as an increase in his car insurance rate and possible cancelation of his policy.   For example, often, after a DUI arrest in Los Angeles, an insurance company might cancel your car insurance and or even refuse to cover damage to a car by saying that a DUI violates the terms of their policy.

Here are some pointers on how to deal with the insurance company after a DUI in Los Angeles.

How Does a DUI Affect Insurance Premium

One of the common concerns with a DUI arrest is that your car insurance company will increase the amount of money you pay them for insurance.  An insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company that guarantees the amount you pay until the policy expires.  This usually means that despite a DUI, or accident, or any other event that is not a breach of a contract, the policy will remain in effect until the end of the insurance period, typically, once a year.  The insurance company cannot make changes in the amounts due prior to the end of the insurance period, therefore, the insurance rate should stay the same until it is time to renew.  The insurance company can cancel your insurance coverage, if the policy permits that, but they will have to give you sufficient time to find new converage and the insurance company will have to pay you back the premium your paid from the day of the cancellatino to the end of the covered period.  

After the policy expires, it is more common for the insurance company to refuse to renew the insurance policy or to signficantly increase the amount of money due for a premium.  An average car insurance rate will increases by 94% in the first year after a DUI conviction and even by the end of 3rd years after the DUI, the premium will remain 63% higher.  Upon renewal, the insurance company can also change the coverage conditions so that certain coverage for damages and liabilities will be reduced or left out.  For example, many insurance companies will not sell coverage higher then $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident.

Will a DUI Increased My Insurance Payments?

A DUI does not always increases the amount of money you pay for your car insurance.  If the insurance company is not aware of DUI arrest or conviction, they will not increase it.  It is true that some insurance companies find out by checking the driving recor of their insured, but the insurance companied do not do it for all drivers every year.  If your insurance company found out about your DUI conviction, you can get insurance with a different insurance company.  Eventhough drunk driving can cause an increase in insurance rates, other factors will have affect:  

  • driver’s personal data, i.e. age, gender, marital status
  • prior driving record and experience
  • lapses in insurance coverage
  • previous and ongoing relations with the car insurance company
  • level of drunk driving offense and punishment measures, etc.

The DMV will require you to file an insurance form, called SR 22, after a DUI arrest or after you lose a APS DMV hearing.  For refusal DMV hearing, there is no SR-22 requirement.  If you tell your insurance company that you need an SR-22, the insurance company might find out about your Los Angeles DUI and not renew your policy or ask for a lot more money.  If you’re submitting an SR 22 document following your DUI arrest Los Angeles, you’ll paying money money to your car insurance company because they will consider you as a “high-risk” driver.  But, it is always a good idea to shop around for cheaper insurance or better coverage. 

Example: You are arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles and you refused a chemical test.  The DMV refusal hearing will result in at least 1-year license suspension.  However, because there was no finding of .08, SR22 is not required to reinstate the license.  If the criminal case is settled for a “not DUI” charge, there will not an obligation to provide SR22 to the DMV.   

How Long Will a DUI Affect the Insurance Cost

Each state establishes the period of a DUI record differently. In California, an alcohol DUI or drug DUI convictions will show up on your record for 10 years. Even though a DUI may remain on the criminal record for the rest of your life, insurance companies keep your insurance rate high only for 10 years after the DUI.  After 10-year period, the DMV and the insurance companies will not count a DUI against you. Thus, after 10 years, your insurance rate will be the same as for a driver who does not have a DUI on their record.

 Do I have to Inform the Insurance About a DUI

You are not required by law to inform your insurance that you are arrested for DUI arrest.  The exception to this would be a policy in which the insurance company requires notificaion of DUI arrest.  Los Angeles DUI attorney do not believe that such policies are commong.  Often DUIs are not reported to the insurance company.  For example, according to the Insurance Research Council, one of the five convictions for traffic-related offenses, includig Los Angeles DUI cases, are not reported by the courts to the DMV and do not appear on the DMV record.   Since the insurance companies primarily rely on the DMV record to check presence of traffic violations, accident and DUI arrests and conviction, including DUI arrest in Los Angeles, you will avoid an increase in the insurance rate if the court failes to report or you win your DUI case.  Wining DUI cases is not always necessary to avoid an increase in insurance.  You will need the help of a Los Angeles DUI attorney to know what substitute charges do not result in the increased insurance.  Because a DUI in California is priorable for 10 years, the insurance company has 10 years to learn about your DUI conviction and to increase your insurance rate.

Can Insurance Company Find Out About a DUI?

There are two possible ways for the insurance company to find out about your Los Angles DUI.  First, the insurance company can find out about your DUI by checking your DMV record.  It is a common practice for insurance companies to request DMV or Motor Vehicle record when you’re renewing your policy or when you are applying for new policy. Second, when you ask your auto insurance company to submit an SR 22 to the DMV, the insurence company might get suspicious and run your DMV record to see why you are asking for an SR-22.  Because the SR-22 is only requires for high risk drivers to prove that you have an insurance, the insuranc company will get suspisious that your DMV record changed or that you got arrested for a DUI.  The DMV will require an SR-22 from drivers the following reasons:

  • Driver’s license suspended or canceled after a DUI conviction.
  • A DMV finding of driving with a BAC of .08 BAC.
  • You had an accident and you were not uninsured.
  • You have too many points and now you are a “negligent operator”.

Some people chose to buy a second policy with an insurance company so that they get an SR 22 separate from their regular auto insurance company to prevent the regular insurance company from learning about the DUI arrest. 

How to Avoid Insurance Rate Increase After a DUI in Los Angeles

The best way to avoid a DUI insurance rate increase is to fight your case so that you will not get a DUI conviction or a DMV finding that you were above .08 BAC while driving.  For example, Los Angles DUI attorney many times was able to avoid a Los Angeles DUI and htat helped keep the insurance rate donw.  If you cannot avoid a DUI conviction or/and DMV finding of .08 BAC, you can try to keep the insurance rate lower by doing the following:

  • Do not volunteer information to your insurance company about a DUI arrest or conviction.
  • Apply for a renewal of your car insurance close to the expiration of the policy period.
  • A Refusal APS hearing does not require SR 22 (but it carries 1 year license suspension). 
  • Get your DUI charge reduced in a plea bargain.
  • Shop for an insurance company with lower premium costs.

If you are facing a DUI case, please call Los Angeles DUI Attorney for a free personal consultation about your case. Los Angeles Drunk Driving Defense Attorney provides qualify representation at an affordable price and can get the best result for you by negotiating a plea bargain offer that you will like or taking your case to a jury trial.

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

(818) 921 7744

Call anytime to get a free consultation with Los Angeles DUI Attorney.

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