One of the worst things that can happen to a driver aside from an accident is to be cited for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. One violation alone can spike your car insurance rates, particularly in California. Here’s what you should know about car insurance and DUI issues.
What happens after a DUI?
According to Shouse Law Group, California drivers are not required to inform their auto insurers about DUIs unless they involve damage or injuries. But there are still ways your insurance company can find out. At renewal time, an agent might see it while doing a background check. Another example is if the state requests an SR-22 form, which indicates proof of insurance for high-risk drivers.
How much will my insurance increase?
Some people who are cited for a DUI hire an attorney who may attempt to reduce the charges or penalties. If you are convicted of a DUI or plead no contest, your auto insurance rate may increase by as much as 165 percent. The national average is around a 65 percent increase. The rate hike is based on numerous factors, including your age and driving record.
So, it’s challenging to maintain your current premium if you get a DUI conviction. A study by The Zebra on car insurance and DUI correlation found that the three insurance companies that offered the lowest annual auto insurance rates after a DUI were Mercury, GEICO, and Infinity.
How long does the rate increase last?
A DUI on your record in California means you will not be eligible for the state-mandated 20 percent good driver discount for ten years. This term begins with the date of the arrest.
How does SR-22 insurance work?
- You must file an SR-22 form in California if you are cited for a DUI incident or reckless driving. The filing fee ranges from $25 to $50. The certificate will serve as proof of insurance that you meet the state’s minimum liability limits, which are:
- $25,000 coverage for bodily injury of third parties
- $50,000 coverage for bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 coverage for property damage per accident
DMV will not reinstate your license if you fail to file for an SR-22 certificate after a DUI incident. You need to complete an auto insurance payment or let a policy lapse to avoid losing your driving privileges. The state doesn’t allow an insurance company to raise your rate or terminate your account during the policy term when you get a DUI. But when it’s time for renewal, the insurer may raise rates for the new term or decide to drop you.
What are the other penalties for a California DUI?
The penalties against drunk driving are severe in California. Even if you’ve never had prior DUIs, you may do up to six months of jail time. You may also get your driver’s license suspended for six months and be required to pay fines up to $1,000. The severity of the penalty depends on the level of blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more.
Be careful and be insured
Carrying the right auto insurance is crucial in California to meet minimum requirements. Contact us at Chambers & Company for more information on car insurance and DUI concerns. Our agents will help you get the best auto insurance to meet your needs.