Many of the costs associated with DUI come from the legal system itself. However, one of the single biggest costs can easily be your DUI’s effect on your insurance rates. In fact, over a 10-year period, car insurance hikes can cost you over $10,000—the largest single expense of a typical first-time DUI.
Below, we will cover:
- DUI and “points” on your drivers license
- How your DUI affects your insurance
- How long the higher insurance rates last
- Telling your insurance company about your DUI
- The SR-22 insurance form
How many points does a DUI add to my license?
A first-time DUI in California will put two points on your drivers license. Points are used to track how many potentially dangerous actions a driver has taken, and getting too many points will cost you your license. However, a DUI automatically triggers license suspension in California unless you:
- Request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of arrest,
- Win your hearing, and
- Win your DUI case or get the charge downgraded to an offense that does not carry suspension as a penalty.
How does a DUI affect my car insurance?
The short answer is, it raises your rates.
The more detailed answer is that each insurance company has to decide how to handle a DUI for each individual customer. Depending on your past driving record and other factors, they may:
- Raise your rates only slightly
- Raise your rates a lot
- Cancel your insurance altogether
This won’t happen immediately. The insurance company can’t adjust your contract mid-term, so the new rates will go into effect when your policy comes up for renewal. This gives you some time to plan whether you want to shop for better rates at a competitor or even give up insurance (and driving) altogether.
Note that this only happens if your insurance company finds out about your DUI, which they may not.
How long does my DUI affect my insurance?
Usually the increased rates will be in effect for three years. But, even when your rates do go down again, they may not be as low as they were before your DUI—for example, you will not qualify for any “good driver” discounts for the entire 10 years that your DUI is on your record. This is why many estimates assume an insurance increase will spread over a 10-year period.
Do I have to tell my insurance company about my DUI?
No, not necessarily. If you already have a policy, there is no law saying you must inform them of your DUI or volunteer this information. It could be months or years before your insurance company finds out and raises your rates. In theory, they could never find out.
Usually the insurance company will find out one of two ways:
- Applying for a new policy. If you apply for car insurance from any provider, they will require a copy of your driver record and they will see your DUI.
- Random checks. Insurance companies have a right to check your driver record on their own at any time. They usually only do this when your policy is about to come up for renewal.
- The SR-22. If you need an SR-22 form from your insurance company, you will have to notify them of your DUI.
What is the SR-22 form?
The SR-22 is a “statement of financial responsibility.” It’s a certificate issued by your insurance company, which you need to show the DMV in two main situations:
- To get a restricted license so you can drive to work while your license is suspended for DUI, or
- To reinstate your license after you have served a DUI suspension
The only way to get the SR-22 is to apply for it from your insurance company, which requires divulging your DUI. This means that you will always have to face an insurance hike if you want to get driving privileges back after a DUI conviction.
If you fight your DUI, however—both with the DMV and in court—you could avoid the suspension. If so, you may never have to pay higher insurance rates at all.
You Could Win Your DUI
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 896-2724 and get your free consultation today.