How much does car insurance cost after a DUI?
A DUI (driving under the influence) conviction is costly in more ways than one. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, you will have immediate costs such as bail, court fees, and fines imposed by the state. This can be significant; some states have a fine of as much as $1000 for a first offense, although most states fall in the $200-$500 range. You may also be liable for court fees; some states charge an “impact” fee to pay for their overcrowded courtrooms. This is before any legal fees if you hire a DUI defense lawyer!
Once the initial costs have passed, however, there are additional costs to be considered. One of these is the price of your automobile insurance. Your auto insurance rates will certainly rise if you are arrested and convicted of a DUI.
“After a DUI the question is NOT if your car insurance will increase, but by how much”
Some companies will simply cancel your insurance. In fact, this is probably the most common method of handling DUI convictions by insurance companies. Others will allow you to retain your coverage with their company, but will move you to a special rate section for high-risk drivers. Coverage with these sections is usually far more basic and costs much more money than your old policy. There are some companies which specialize in insuring high-risk drivers. You may be able to find slightly more affordable rates with these specialty companies; however, your rates will still be far higher than the average rates for your age group.
The SR-22 Form Filing Requirement
Many states require you to file a form called an SR-22, which shows that you have insurance coverage sufficient to meet the state liability limits, when you are convicted of a DUI. If you have received notice to file an SR-22, understand that most car insurance companies will not cover you, and those which do will consider you high-risk and charge you far more for your policy.
So how much is your car insurance coverage going to increase after a DUI?
While this is a question that is impossible to answer accurately, as every company and every individual is different, some general conclusions can be drawn to show the disparity in rates. Many experts quote a 20-60% increase in rates with a DUI conviction. If we take the median of those figures, at 40%, the average driver in the United States, who pays about $1,450 yearly for coverage, would expect to pay $2,030, an increase of $580. On the other hand, other experts cite $1500 yearly as the average increase in premiums resulting from a DUI, so the higher of those percentages is probably far more applicable.
This annual increase in auto insurance is not only for one year!
Most states keep DUIs on record for at least three years, and some for as long as ten. Five years is about average for a DUI to “disappear” from your record. “Disappear” does not mean that it will not be on your record; it means instead that the Department of Motor Vehicles stops reporting it to your insurance company. If your state’s DMV reports for five years, and you have an average premium increase of $1500, you will ultimately pay $7,500 more for your auto insurance over that span of time than you would pay if you had not had the DUI. With court costs and other fees, the final bill for your DUI could easily exceed $10,000.
If you have been charged with a DUI, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. A DUI lawyer, while expensive, may be able to keep the DUI off your record by pleading you to a lesser offense. For example, “reckless” driving will cause a spike in your insurance rates, but it generally does not hit as hard as a DUI and disappears from your record faster. Another way you can help to protect yourself is to show the court that you are willing to do things to show your remorse and to insure that you will never have another DUI violation. Sometimes, courts can craft a plan for a truly repentant driver that will allow you to avoid the dreaded DUI conviction.
In reality, however, most courts have little interest in protecting DUI violators. If you are convicted of a DUI, you must maximize your advantages and simply deal with the other consequences. Most importantly, you must not have any further violations of any type on your record for the duration of the DUI reporting period. If you are convicted of a second DUI, you may not be able to find car insurance at any price.