September 24, 2009

Drunk Driving Effects On Car Insurance

Thinking about driving home after knocking a couple back at the bar? Think again. Drinking and driving can not only have devastating effects on yourself and other drivers, it can wreak havoc on your insurance premiums; making it almost impossible in some instances to even become insured. Whether your state call it driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, if you are convicted of drunk driving you can expect your insurance rates to rise. But how much of an effect will it have?

It Varies.

One of the biggest effects a drunk driving conviction has on your insurance premiums has a lot to do with the state you live in. At the very least you can expect to have your driving privileges suspended for 30 days for a first offense and even longer for a second or third. Some states even require mandatory jail time. After the suspension period many states will require you to give your licensing agency an SR-22 form which proves that you carry the policy. The insurance agency is also required to inform the state if your insurance in suspended or cancels at any time. SR-22 insurance involves a lot more hassle for your insurer and can be very expensive.

How Expensive?

When you file an SR-22 form with your insurance company you will automatically be considered high-risk. If you have been convicted of drunk driving even a previous preferred status with your insurance company will not save you. If you are able to keep your present insurance company you can expect to pay at least double, if not triple, what you previously paid for insurance premiums. Many auto insurance companies refuse to carry SR-22 insurance policies, however, and in this case you will have to look for a new insurer and expect to pay even more because you now have a cancellation on your record as well.

When Will It End?

Like driving and insurance laws, every state is different when it comes to how long the effects of a drunk driving conviction will stay on your record. Generally, you can expect it to affect your insurance premiums for your first offense and even longer for subsequent infractions. Other states also incorporate enhanced penalties for circumstances where another person was injured, underage drinking, an exceptionally high blood alcohol level or when a child was in the vehicle.

The easiest way to avoid these issues is to not drink and drive. Unfortunately, everyone makes mistakes and if you have been convicted of drunk driving you may want to consider public transportation or walking. Even if you do not own a vehicle you are still required to purchase a non-owner policy and have an SR-22 form on file. Does it seem like a big hassle? Use a designated driver or call a taxi if you have been drinking. A 20 dollar cab ride is a cheaper alternative than years of fines and high premiums.