Written by attorney Jason Chase Beahm

The Effect of a DUI Conviction on Car Insurance

Being convicted for DUI is most likely bad news for your auto insurance rates. Although you may not be eager to rush off to report your conviction to your insurance company, chances are that you won't be able to hide it. Your attorney may be able to refer you to an insurance agent that specializes in DUI cases, in order to help keep your rates manageable.

The SR-22 Form

Because a DUI conviction is usually accompanied by license suspension, in most states you’re required to get a form called SR-22 from your insurance company to remove your license suspension. The SR-22 is also needed by the DMV as proof that you have liability insurance. Additionally, the SR-22 requires that your insurance company reports any cancellation of your insurance policy to the DMV. This means that you’ll have to check in with proof of insurance for 3-5 years with the DMV. Not all insurance companies offer SR-22 policies, so you may have to switch insurance providers.

Insurance rates

Because of the SR-22, your insurance company will likely raise your insurance rates because you’ll be classified as a high-risk driver. Premiums can increase to double or even triple of your original rate. The company may also possibly cancel or not renew your policy if you’re currently a preferred rate policy holder. If you’re looking around for a new insurance provider, try to do it before your current company cancels your policy. It’s bad enough that you have a DUI conviction on your record, but it’ll be even harder to get picked up by another insurance company if you have an insurance cancellation on your record.

Insurers in non SR-22 states

If you’re in one of the few states that doesn’t require a SR-22, then you might be lucky enough that your insurer won’t find out about your conviction. Statistics show that approximately 1 in 5 convictions for traffic violations never show up on DMV records. This can happen because of the following:

  • Poor information sharing between the courts and the DMVs
  • Traffic conviction was erased through alternatives like driving school
  • DUI charge was reduced in plea bargain

However, even if your insurance company doesn’t find out about your conviction at the time it happens, it still has a window of a few years to raise rates if it finds out later. Keep in mind that different insurance companies handle policyholders with DUI convictions in a variety of ways. While some may choose to cancel your policy altogether, others may switch you to a more high risk policy, and yet others may just raise rates. It’s common for DUI convictions to be considered on a case-by-case basis by insurance companies, so your insurance can depend on many factors such as your driving history, age, or gender.

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