For most people in California, a DUI conviction will affect many aspects of life. One of the most expensive and lasting consequences is the rise in your auto insurance rates. Most people are aware that their insurance will be affected but may not be aware of the extent. In this article, we'll answer all your questions.
What a DUI Means to Insurance Companies
If you've been convicted of a DUI in California, one thing is for certain: your car insurance will go up. But the question of how much these rates will increase is sometimes shrouded in mystery. Insurance companies are given wide discretion as to how much more you'll have to pay - and many people have experienced astronomical increases. Some have been charged upwards of $1,000 more due to a DUI.
Why is there usually such a significant increase? Insurance providers typically don't just name a price. They calculate monthly premiums by using a formula. While the formula varies from company to company, the factors considered generally remain the same. They include (but are not limited to):
- The type of car you drive
- The city or state you live in
- Your age
- The color of your car
- The type of driving infractions on your record
- The amount of driving infractions you've accrued over time
Using this information, an insurance provider will be able to assess the “risk” of a motorist and come up with what they believe is a reasonable premium rate.
DUIs and Risk Driver Classification
On most auto insurance plans, motorists are classified as either a high-risk driver or a low-risk driver. As the name suggests, a “high risk” driver is one who is risky to insure because of a poor driving record and/or inexperience. Unfortunately, it's pretty easy to be deemed a “high risk” driver. One mistake, like getting into a car accident, receiving a citation, or even having a poor credit history can put you in a pickle.
With a DUI on your driving record, even for a first offense, you'll almost always be considered high risk. In this predicament, your insurance provider will confront you with one of three options: (1) a high rate increase (2) the ultimatum of purchasing “high risk” insurance or (3) a request to withdraw from the company altogether. Individuals who have more than one DUI on their record are more susceptible to being dropped by their insurance.
If you're a high-risk driver, you might think it's too expensive to get insurance. But remember, driving without car insurance is illegal in California. If you're caught driving without insurance you may lose your license.
California's SR-22 Requirement
If you were a policyholder prior to your DUI conviction, you are required to get your insurance company to file an SR-22 form to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. An SR-22 is essentially proof that you meet the state's minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage.
In order to obtain an SR-22, you must contact your car insurance company. Once you tell your company that you need one, it will alert them that a significant event occurred. It is up to the provider to either issue you the certificate or cancel your policy. It's important to note that all car insurance carry provide SR-22 coverage. If your company cancels you, then you will be required to seek an SR-22 elsewhere.
How Long Will A DUI Affect My Insurance Rates?
The duration of time a DUI may affect your insurance rates vary. But the majority of the time, rates drop at around three years. Even for first-time offenses, drivers over the age of 21 should expect to see a 20 to 30 percent increase in their insurance rates.
Charged With a DUI in Santa Rosa? Contact an Attorney Today
If you've been arrested and charged with a DUI in Santa Rosa, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you can get a legal professional on your case, the more time you give them to build a solid defense. Regardless of your circumstances, a DUI is a criminal offense that requires skilled, experienced, and aggressive representation. As you can see, there are serious financial consequences imposed after a conviction that can make it difficult to continue living your life as normal. Hence, why you should do everything in your power now to fight this charge.
Wilber Law Offices, P.C. has successfully represented numerous clients who've been charged with misdemeanor or felony DUI offenses. Our team has helped people in this predicament get their charges reduced or dismissed, and they can do the same for you. Contact our firm today online or by phone at 707-527-3451.