A DUI comes with serious repercussions, including financial ones. This holds true even if you were not involved in an accident before being pulled over. Operating a car is a big responsibility, and a DUI marks you as a higher risk driver to your insurance company. This means your rates can skyrocket until you can successfully prove to your insurance carrier that you are committed to driving safely.
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What Is a DUI?
DUI is shorthand for “driving under the influence.” Depending on your state, it may be interchangeable with “DWI” or “driving while intoxicated,” or it could be a different charge altogether. But receiving a DUI in any state means a police officer has charged you with driving while drunk or otherwise impaired, which includes the influence of drugs.
The only foolproof way to avoid a DUI charge is not to drive if you have been drinking or taking drugs at all. This can even include prescription medications that may impede your ability to drive safely, such as drugs that can cause drowsiness or confusion.
How Much Can a DUI Raise Your Car Insurance Rates?
When you receive a DUI or related charge, you signal to your insurance company that you are a high risk for them to insure. From the insurance company’s perspective, they are more likely to need to pay out claims for you than other drivers without a DUI on their records. To compensate for this risk, your insurance company is likely to raise your monthly premium significantly.
The exact increase on your insurance can vary by state and company, though generally, you can expect your coverage to increase by about 74%. In some states, insurance premiums can even double or quadruple, making it extremely expensive and difficult to pay. Your location makes the biggest impact on how much your premiums can increase if you get a DUI. Repercussions can vary widely by state.
What Is an SR-22?
Certain high-risk drivers may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance, which is a bit of a misnomer. SR-22 is not an insurance policy; however, it does affect your car insurance rate. An SR-22 is a court-order form that you must file with an insurance company, which tells them how to handle your insurance. It also allows the state to be sure that you have the appropriate insurance in place. In some states, this may also be called an FR-44.
How Long Can a DUI Affect Car Insurance Rates?
Due to the severity of the charge and its direct impact on your driving, insurance companies often keep these rates high for 3 to 5 years. This way, the insurance risk is covered and the company has sufficient time to see if this is a pattern or not. The exact timeframe depends mostly on your state.
Keep in mind that changing insurers will not result in a lower rate because any new insurance company will still see the DUI on your driving record.
Some states enforce consequences beyond the 5-year mark. For example, you are barred from certain benefits in California — like the good driver discount — even after the DUI surcharge drops away.
Are There Other Factors that Can Affect Your Insurance Rate?
Age can play a large part in how much your premiums increase after a DUI. Insurance companies already consider younger drivers to be a higher risk. If you are convicted of a DUI at a young age, especially under the legal age of consumption, you can expect a larger hike in your premiums.
The number of DUIs you have can also make a large impact. A person with multiple DUIs is a much higher risk than someone who can prove that it was a one-time incident by maintaining a clean driving record after the DUI.
How Can You Lower Your Car Insurance Rates After a DUI?
Fortunately, even with a DUI on your record, there are things you can do to lower your insurance rates.
Ask About Discounts
Ask your insurance carrier what discounts you could be eligible for. Although you may no longer be entitled to a good driver discount, you still have the right to other promotions and discounts. For example, bundling your home and auto insurance may help you to get a slightly better deal than paying for them separately. There may also be discounts for paying the policy in full or insuring multiple cars.
Raise Your Deductible
It may also be helpful to see if you can raise your deductible. Your deductible is the out-of-pocket cost you agree to pay any time you file a claim. By raising your deductibles and effectively agreeing to pay more in an accident, you may lower your monthly rate.
While this method can lower your monthly rate, it is important to be honest with yourself about what you can pay in an accident and how accident prone you may be. For example, having a high deductible might not be the ideal option for those who do not have the means to pay the greater out-of-pocket cost in case of an accident.
Prove Your Driving Skills
Another way to help ease your insurance costs over time is to prove to your insurance company that you are committed to being a safe driver. You want to be able to prove that driving under the influence is not a common occurrence from you. This means safer driving overall by avoiding speeding tickets, traffic violations, or filing other insurance claims. It is not a quick process, but over time, your driving record can speak for itself again. Eventually, if you practice safe driving, your insurance company may move you into a lower-risk category.
If you think you need some guidance, you can take a defensive driving course if you were not already assigned one when you were charged with a DUI.
Another way you might be able to save some money on your insurance is by seeing what other companies offer. The rate increase, while largely dependant on your state, is also influenced by your company. Some insurance companies may be able to give you a better price.
You may even consider insurance that fluctuates based on your usage. Some companies track your driving, including your speed and braking patterns, to determine how much you pay. If you prove yourself to be a safe driver, this could end up saving you some money on your monthly premium.
Creating a Clean Slate
One of the best things you can do for yourself after a DUI is to commit to maintaining a clean slate. Better driving habits and safer vehicle operation doesn’t just help your wallet, it also keeps you and others safe. So long as you do better, a DUI does not affect your driving record forever.