What Does a DUI Do To Your Auto Insurance Rates?

A conviction for DUI, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is a very serious offense, even if it your first conviction. In general, DUI will cost you thousands of dollars in the long run, and may jeopardize your ability to drive your car over a period of time.

In most states, drivers agree to submit to DUI testing voluntarily when they receive their driver’s licenses. As a driver’s license is a privilege, and not a right, states have the power to demand that drivers who apply for a license agree to these terms. If your state has a law in place that requires you to submit to DUI testing, you must do so if you are pulled over or face losing your license altogether.

When you are tested for DUI, a blood alcohol content, or BAC, reading will be taken by testing your breath, your blood, or both. If your BAC is over the legal limit, you will be charged with DUI. You may have to hire a lawyer to represent you in court; if you plead guilty, you will face several consequences.

Most states have a stiff fine and penalty system for punishing DUI offenders. On average, it will cost you several hundred dollars just for the DUI fine for a first offense, and many states also require you to attend, and pay for, driver education courses dealing with alcohol and motor vehicles. You may also have to pay reinstatement fees to recover your license, as well as court fees.

The real cost, however, is not just in immediate fines and fees. Over time, your insurance rates will probably skyrocket when your insurance company learns of your DUI. This happens because insurance companies usually scan the public records just before issuing renewal notices. If the company happens upon your DUI record, you can expect a fee increase or outright cancellation. Many companies simply will not insure someone who has a DUI conviction, so you may be forced to search for other automobile insurance.

Assuming that your company keeps your policy in force, you can count on higher premiums. While the cost will vary from individual to individual and company to company, you can expect a minimum of a 20% increase in your premiums, and many people see an increase of 40%. This means that if you were paying $1000 per year prior to your DUI, you can expect to pay $1200 to $1400 per year afterwards. This rate increase will stay in effect as long as the DUI is on your record.

In some states, DUIs stay active in your file for three years; in others, the DUI stays in your record permanently. The rate you are charged also depends on the rest of your driving record; a speeding ticket six months before your DUI can have a great impact on your new rate, and an accident can send your prices soaring.

Some states also require the filing of a document called an SR-22 after a DUI conviction. An SR-22 is a paper which your insurance company provides which states that you are insured for a certain period of time. Many major companies will not issue SR-22’s; if this is the case, you will have to seek other insurance.

Some companies that specialize in SR-22 insurance are The General and Progressive. However, some companies such as State Farm may require you to move your insurance to a different division of the company which carries high-risk policies. No matter how your SR-22 insurance is handled, one sure bet is that it will cost you more money than someone without this requirement.

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