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What will a DUI mean for my auto insurance?
A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) can affect your life in many ways. Not only do you face jail time, fines and the suspension of your driver’s license, but the conviction also imposes a penalty on you outside of the courtroom. A DUI can have a dramatic impact on your ability to get the minimum auto insurance coverage as required by California law for all drivers.
The Cost of a DUI on Your Insurance
In the event that you are convicted of DUI, you will be placed in the category of “high-risk” drivers. As a result, there are a couple of paths that your insurance company can take with regards to your current policy.
If your insurance company decides to keep your policy active, it will likely do so only if you pay a significantly higher premium. A first-time DUI conviction will prevent you from obtaining a “good driver” insurance discount for a period of 10 years. In some cases, this means an increase of as much as 20% in the premiums that you currently pay for your policy.
Alternatively, your insurance company could simply decide to cancel your policy once it learns of your conviction. This would mean that you would have to spend time finding a new company that is willing to insure drivers that have DUI convictions. Depending on your driving record, this could mean that you pay a lot more in insurance premiums than you did under your old policy. You would also lose the benefit of any loyalty discounts that you had as a long-time customer of your previous insurer.
If your auto insurance company cancels your coverage, you must still obtain an insurance policy before your license will be reinstated. There are programs such as the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) that will help match you with an insurer who will be willing to give policies to high-risk drivers following a DUI conviction. Insurance companies that participate in CAARP will also provide the required SR22 certificate to the DMV (see below).
The SR22 Certificate Requirement
In order to reinstate your driving privilege after your suspension is over, you will also be required to obtain a yearly SR22 certificate from your insurance company. This document is used to prove to the DMV that you have insurance that meets the minimum coverage requirements for a “high-risk” driver. If you fail to pay your insurance during that time, the insurance company must inform the DMV, which will result in the suspension of your license until you obtain another SR-22.
To obtain an SR22, you must contact your auto insurance company to determine whether it will provide the certificate. Some insurance companies are unwilling to do so, and will instead cancel your policy after reviewing your record and the DUI conviction. If your company does provide the certificate, it will file the SR22 electronically with the DMV.
If your insurance company is willing to file the SR22, you should expect to pay both a filing fee (usually $50) and an annual increase in your policy of up to $800. Generally, you must file an SR22 annually for three years following your conviction.
Insurance for Multiple Convictions
If you are facing a second or third conviction for DUI, you already know the difficulties and increased expenses of obtaining insurance after a DUI conviction. You can expect that those challenges will become even more difficult if you are convicted again. Not only will your insurer consider dropping your coverage, but your premiums will also likely increase even more for a subsequent conviction.
There are companies who are still willing to cover you after a second or third DUI, but these companies may refuse to issue a policy unless you first complete certain tasks. For example, your insurance company may refuse to issue a policy unless you install an ignition interlock device (IID) at your own expense. An IID is a device that prevents your car from starting unless you first provide a clean breath sample. The insurance company may require this regardless of whether a court ordered you to install the device. The cost for one of these devices is generally $100 to install, and then a monthly payment of up to $100 for the lease of the device until you are no longer required to use it.
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