In most states, people who are convicted of DUIs face higher insurance rates. Their rates are likely to rise for about three years, and they are required to obtain an SR-22 form. This is a form that proves a person is carrying adequate insurance. Under the SR-22 laws, insurers are required to let the licensing agency know if a policy lapses, is canceled or is terminated. To regain a driver’s license, a person will have to show the Department of Motor Vehicles the SR-22 form. Driving privileges are suspended for at least 30 days or as much as one year after the first drunk driving offense. Depending on state laws, any additional offenses will vary but carry longer suspensions and harsher penalties.
DUIs and Insurance Premiums
After going to the insurance agency to obtain an SR-22 form, the insurer will categorize a person as high risk and raise his or her premium. If a person was previously in a special class or received safe driver discounts, the premium amount difference will be very noticeable. In some cases, rates may triple. The rate increase depends on state and insurer rules. However, there are some companies that specialize in high-risk policies, and they often provide somewhat better rates. While rates may be better, they will still be expensive.
Some Companies Exclude Coverage
There are some insurance companies that do not cover people who are convicted of drunk driving. In such cases, the insurer will often cancel the person’s policy. After this, the uninsured individual must find another insurer immediately. Another contributing factor toward a higher premium is that claims history is cancelled when a policy is ended. However, some states have laws that prevent insurance companies from canceling policies prior to their expiration dates regardless of convictions. In such cases, insurers will usually let the policy continue until its expiration date but will not renew it.
Long-Term Higher Rates
Each state has its own laws dictating how long a drunk driving conviction will affect insurance rates. In most cases, the minimum amount of time is about three years for a first offense. For any subsequent offenses, the time period is considerably longer. Many states have laws that enhance penalties for certain circumstances. For example, if a child was in the vehicle or if a person was injured, the penalties are harsher. The same is true for people who are under the legal drinking age or are very far over the minimum blood alcohol concentration level. In every state, the blood alcohol level of .08 is considered to be the point of intoxication. The penalties are doubled in over 40 states if a person’s blood alcohol concentration is over .15 or .20.
Avoiding High Insurance Rates
Higher insurance rates are only applicable if a person wants his or her right to drive restored. People who want to avoid paying these charges or cannot afford them may rely on public transportation to avoid higher costs. In some states, people with DUIs can still drive mopeds without licenses. People who do not own vehicles but want their driving rights restored after a drunk driving conviction will also need to obtain an SR-22 form and purchase a non-owner policy. However, the best way to avoid any increased premiums, fees, jail or other penalties is to avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking. Even a couple of drinks can be enough to put a person over the legal limit in some states. It is best to call a friend, call a taxi or use public transportation after going out for drinks. To learn more about SR-22 forms and high-risk auto insurance, discuss concerns with an agent.