August 20, 2010

Auto Insurance Options After A DUI Conviction

Getting a DUI is a serious offense, and outside of major injury or death, it is one of the worst things that can happen to a driver on the road. The consequences can also be unbelievably expensive. Besides the legal fees, jail time and license suspension, there will be other long-term effects, including the negative impact on your car insurance premiums. Your premiums will go up once your insurer finds out about the DUI—you can count on it. Fortunately, there may still be ways to obtain an affordable auto insurance quote after a DUI conviction.

Once your insurer finds out about the DUI, there are two actions it can take. Normally, your rates will go up; however, your insurance company may choose to cancel your policy outright. In the case where the insurer simply raises your premiums, you will be classified as a high risk. This classification will be hard to remove and will come along with some of the highest premiums on the market. If your policy is canceled, you will be effectively black-listed, and few other insurers will consider offering you a new policy. Driving without insurance after a DUI conviction is probably the most dangerous course of action because most states will suspend your license, and may even charge you with additional criminal offenses, if you lack the necessary proof of insurance.

One DUI may or may not result in a high risk classification. Multiple DUIs, or a DUI along with other moving violations, certainly will. Once classified as a high risk, there’s not much you can do about it. You’ll pay a high premium and be able to secure only the minimum liability insurance required by law.

While a DUI will stay on your criminal record permanently unless expunged, most car insurers will only look at your state DMV records when making decisions about insurance applications. Once the DUI is cleared from the DMV records, your rates should return to normal as long as you haven’t accrued other accidents or violations in the interim. How long this process takes varies from state to state. In some states, your record may be cleared in as short as five years, while other states may keep the record active for 10 years or more.

Thus, whether you end up labeled a high risk driver and how long the DUI remains on your record will depend on your insurer and your state. While your car insurance premiums will most likely increase substantially after your DUI, there is still a chance that you will be able to retain your original policy (at an increased price) or receive an auto insurance quote from a provider willing to work with you.