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Auto Insurance Rates After a DUI: Guide to Form SR-22

One of the costs of a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction is the effect on your car insurance rates. This is just one of many possible consequences of driving under the influence.

This article discusses the impact of a DUI on your insurance. It discusses a critical form many states need after a DUI before your driver's license suspension will get lifted. The article also addresses the impact of a DUI on insurance rates.

Effects of DUI on Insurance

If you have a drunk driving conviction, you can expect to pay significantly higher auto insurance premiums as a "high-risk driver" once your insurer discovers your offense. Alcohol-related offenses can be costly. But the adverse effects of a DUI or DWI conviction go well beyond a fine, court costs, and license suspension.

Your insurance company can drop your coverage altogether. You might have to shop around for a new policy with a DUI and insurance cancellation on your record.

Form SR-22

If you're convicted of a DUI, most states require you to get an SR-22 form from your insurer. This form proves to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you carry liability insurance. You must have proof of liability insurance for the DMV to lift your license suspension and restore your driving privileges. The SR-22 form acts as a red flag about your conviction and requires your insurer to contact the DMV if your insurer cancels your insurance policy.

Depending on your state, you may have to show proof of auto insurance coverage to your state's DMV for up to five years to maintain a valid license. Only some insurance companies offer SR-22 auto insurance policies. Some insurers either cancel or don't renew your policy after a DUI conviction. Six states don't need SR-22 insurance. Those states are:

  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania

DUI and Insurance Rates

Not all DUI offenses are treated the same. Most insurers look at DUI offenses on a case-by-case basis. For example, you might only get a marginal rate increase on your insurance quote if you have an otherwise excellent driving record and the DUI conviction is your first offense.

Successive drunken driving offenses usually result in much higher rate increases. Many insurance companies refuse to cover repeat offenders. Car insurance companies have a few years to raise your rates after a DUI conviction, even if they don't immediately discover your conviction. The offense may even affect your life insurance premiums.

Whether your auto insurance company quickly discovers your DUI (if at all) depends on your state's laws and procedures and how the court handles your case. Roughly 20% of convictions for traffic violations (including DUI offenses) don't make it into motor vehicle records, according to the Insurance Research Council. Reasons the offense may fly under the radar include:

  • Poor communication between the courts and the DMV
  • An erased conviction due to defensive driving school
  • A reduced charge due to a guilty plea

Your conviction may also escape detection by your insurer if you committed the offense in a state that doesn't need an SR-22 form. In most states, a DUI or driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense will stay on your record for between three and five years. In California, a DUI or DWI will stay on your driving record for 10 years.

Concerned About Insurance Rates After a DUI? Talk to a Lawyer

DUI convictions can be expensive enough without adding the cost of higher insurance premiums. Perhaps you've gotten arrested or charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. In that case, meet with a local DUI attorney to learn more about your state's drunk driving laws, the impact of DUI charges, and how driving while impaired might affect your auto insurance rates. A lawyer can help you understand your state's DUI laws and DUI penalties.

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