If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: Drinking and driving, or having too many drinks and then getting behind the wheel, is just not worth the risk.
There is a long list of things which can affect your car insurance. Because it is so dangerous to yourself and others, a drinking and driving conviction is a major traffic violation and it will without a doubt have a negative effect on your premiums and, in many cases, your ability to get car insurance at all. No insurance company offers an easy "out" for such a major violation.
Rates Will Go Up
Assuming your car insurance carrier has decided to keep your business, your premiums will definitely go up.
Don’t assume that just because you don’t notice an immediate increase that this means nothing will happen – the rate hike will typically happen at the first renewal after the conviction is final. This means if your policy renews January 1st and your conviction is final January 2nd, you probably won't see a rate increase for another six months. It is also possible to be with a company with super strict underwriters who might have the authority to make a more immediate change.
How Much Will My Premiums Increase?
This question is tricky to answer. It is going to make a big difference depending on your prior driving history. If you are moving out of a preferred driver status into this new high-risk driver status, you are going to see a huge change. In some cases, you could be looking at double your current price and possibly worse. If you were already a high-risk driver, it may not make such a huge impact. Some insurance pools for high-risk drivers do not even run driving records. You still pay a high rate, but if you were already paying it, you may not see much of a change in price. Mostly your high-risk status will be starting over and you will be paying the high rate for that much longer.
Can your car insurance carrier really cancel your policy for a drinking and driving conviction? They can, but an actual cancellation happening mid-policy and is very rare. Most insurance carriers will let you ride it out until your renewal date.
Then they most definitely can decide to non-renew your car insurance policy. They are called preferred insurance carriers for a reason, and that is because they do not allow drivers with major traffic violations to continue as clients. Often, thirty to forty-five days before your actual renewal date you will receive a notice of non-renewal.
If you receive a notice of non-renewal, it is a good idea to talk with your insurance agent. Ask if there are any other options for you. It is important to speak with your agent especially if you have an independent agent. An independent insurance agent will most likely have another insurance company to place your business in. Then you can keep your same familiar and hopefully great agent.
How Long Will a DUI Conviction Affect Your Car Insurance?
Drinking and driving will impact your car insurance for at least three to five years. A typical preferred carrier may make it so you are eligible to get insurance with them after the conviction is three years old, however, you will still be paying a surcharge for an additional two years. Insurance companies each make up their own rules for how they handle DUI convictions. The standard is that the violation will affect your car insurance rate for five years.
If you are convicted of a serious offense that puts other drivers at risk, you’re not just considered an insurance risk, but a risk to the public as well. Many states will require an SR22 filing in order to monitor your car insurance active status. Basically, because you have raised red flags about your judgment behind the wheel, the state wants verification you maintain insurance coverage. With an SR22 filing applied to your car insurance policy, the insurance carrier will automatically notify the state of any changes to your policy most importantly whether the policy is inactive or canceled status. SR22 is not very expensive, but at this point, any increase in your policy is a lot to bare.