Written by attorney Loren Michael Merlin

Auto Insurance after a DUI Conviction and the SR-22

DUI is one of the most common offenses that people are arrested for. Often times, they don’t know how a DUI conviction will affect their insurance rates.

If you have recently been arrested for DUI, then you are probably very curious about how a conviction would affect your auto insurance premiums. One thing to keep in mind is that if you haven’t been convicted yet, a DUI attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case, possible avoiding a conviction altogether.

If you were arrested for DUI, you don’t have to run to your auto insurance company and report it to them just yet. Maybe you will win your case, or maybe your attorney can get your charges reduced in a DUI plea bargain, or perhaps you will succeed at the DMV DUI hearing. In most cases, an auto insurance company will check a driver’s record when it comes to renewal time, or when they are taking out a new policy.

On the other hand, when the California DMV takes administrative action and suspends or revokes someone’s license following a DUI arrest, they may require the driver to obtain SR-22 coverage before they are allowed to reinstate their driving privileges. The only way for a driver to obtain SR-22 insurance coverage is from an insurance company. If your insurance carrier doesn’t offer SR-22s, then it will automatically cancel your policy.

What is SR-22? It is a certificate of financial responsibility that California requires in order getting your license reinstated. Once you purchase the required coverage from your insurer, they will file the SR-22 and notify the DMV; it will verify that you have purchased the state mandated coverage and that it is in place. When you are quoted a car insurance rate, the insurer will take into account all the factors that ordinarily go into rating a policy such as where you live, whether or not you park your car in a garage, your driving record etc.

Many drivers mistakenly believe that they are unable to get insurance with a restricted driver’s license, but this is not true. Auto insurance is required by law, so there are a number of carriers that offer insurance to those with a DUI. Although many of the large insurance companies do not offer SR-22 policies, many of the smaller companies do. SR-22 policies vary widely, so it’s important to shop out rates with different companies. SR-22 policies require your insurer to notify the DMV if you cancel for any reason, and you can expect to prove that you have insurance to the DMV on multiple occasions.

Keep in mind that if your insurance policy is canceled for any reason, you must get new insurance immediately. Under California law, your carrier is required to notify the DMV when you cancel your policy. Since it’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle without insurance, if you have a lapse in coverage, the DMV will send you a notice indicating that your registration will be suspended if they don’t receive new insurance information within 45 days.

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