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 DU judges and prosecutors in Los Angeles believe that DUI is the most serious crime in existence.  This of course is not supported by evidence, but, yet the approach is very unforgiving.  In the United States, DUI-related deaths account for 31% of all motor vehicle fatalities.  In California, there are around 200,000 DUI arrests every year.  Not all DUI arrests result in prosecutions, but the statistics is staggering and is equal to over 500 DUI arrest each day.   Most DUI cases are misdemeanor DUI cases but, if there are priors or accidents with injuries, DUI can be charged as a felony.  The penalty for DUI cases varies from no jail time for first offense DUI in Los Angeles to prison for repeat offenders and even a possible life sentence if someone dies as a result of a DUI accident.  The penalty also varies on the driver’s license side (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 the insurance company will increase the amount of money you pay them for insurance.  According to California insurance law, when you buy an insurance policy, it is a contract that guarantees the amount you pay until the policy expires.   This usually means that despite a DUI, the policy must remain the same until the end of the insurance period (usually 1 year).  It would be illegal to make changes in the amount you pay halfway through the term and therefore, your insurance rate will stay the same until it is time to renew.

After the expiration date, your insurance carriers have the right to either set a new price or decline to renew your coverage.  Reports show that the average car insurance rate increases over 94% in the first year alone, and by the 2nd and 3rd year premiums on average are still over 63% higher. Often, upon renewal, the insurance company will also change coverage conditions so that certain coverage for damages and liabilities will be left out. Not all carriers like to deal with clients who have checkered pasts.

Will a DUI Definitely Lead Up to Increased Insurance Rate

A DUI will not necessarily cause a change in how much money you pay to your insurance.  Sometimes switching insurance to a different company will help save money.  Drunk driving can cause an increase in insurance rate; but, other factors will also matter.  

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

If you’re asked to submit an SR 22 document following your DUI arrest, you’ll often be paying a higher rate for your car insurance as a “high risk” driver.  However, because coverage conditions are very different among car insurance carriers even for drivers with DUI records, you are encouraged to call around for a better rate.  SR22 is not required if you do not have a DUI conviction or APS loss.  That is, for a refusal DMV hearing no SR22 is required.  

  • 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, alcohol DUI or drug DUI conviction 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 usually pay attention only to your state’s department of motor vehicle (DMV) record. After this 10-year period, the DMV will remove not count this a DUI against you. After 10 years, your insurance rate will be the same as a driver without a DUI on the record.

Is It Necessary to Report About a DUI

You are not required by the law to inform your insurance carrier about a DUI arrest. According to the Insurance Research Council, one of the five convictions for traffic-related offense never gets to the motor vehicle records, either because motor vehicle departments or courts fail to report the information. In addition, you can avoid a rate increase associated with a DUI if you win your case or when the insurers miss the conviction, or when you are able to plea bargain your case to a different or lesser charge. However, because a DUI in California will stay on your record for 10 years, the insurance company has the entire time within this period to discover the conviction to increase your insurance rate.

How Will an Insurance Company Find Out About a DUI

There are two possible ways for the insurers to find out about your DUI.  First, the insurance company can find out about your DUI simply by checking your DMV record.  It is a common practice for the insurance companies to request DMV or Motor Vehicle record check while you’re renewing your policy or applying for a new insurance. Secondly, when you ask for a SR 22 from your auto insurance carrier, the insurer might get suspicious and ran your DMV record to see why you are asking for SR22.  The SR22 document is an insurance form produced by the insurance company that shows to the DMV that you meet the state’s minimum requirements for vehicle liability coverage. The DMV will request SR22 for the following reasons:

  • Your driver’s license was suspended or canceled after a DUI conviction.
  • You have a DMV finding of .08 BAC.
  • You reinstate your driving privileges following an uninsured auto accident.
  • You are deemed a “negligent operator” because you have bad driving record.

Though there are many reasons to ask for an SR 22 from your insurance company, you’ll still are might face difficulties explaining the reasons for your request. When requesting an SR22, the insurance company can learn about your DUI arrest and might increasing your insurance premium rate on renewal or even cancel your policy.

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.  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.
  • Request a DMV hearing within the 10 days after being arrested, which could save the trouble of requiring an SR 22 document from your insurance company.
  • 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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