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The Impact of a Drunk-Driving Conviction on Your Auto Insurance

More than 1.4 million drivers in the U.S. were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs in 2001.

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The Impact of a Drunk Driving Conviction on Your Auto Insurance

An alcohol-related car accident and subsequent drunk driving conviction can bring many negative consequences into your life. These include the possibility of jail or prison time, a criminal record, car repair/replacement, restitution, guilt and grief over harm to others, higher insurance premiums, a civil lawsuit, fines, court and administrative fees, community service, alcohol education, substance abuse treatment, social stigma, restrictions on or revocation of your driver's license, attorneys fees, restrictive probation and others. If you have been arrested for or charged with drunk driving, a lawyer from Thomas J. Quinn, Attorney at Law in Greenville, SC, can advise you about your legal rights and help you fight the charges.

After a DUI/DWI/OUI/OWI conviction, your driving privileges may still be intact or they may need to be restored. The question of automobile insurance becomes both more complex and more expensive once a drunk driving conviction appears on your record.

Your present insurer

Your current automobile insurer can be expected to respond to your drunk driving incident. Exactly what your insurance company legally can do varies from state to state and depends on the insurance laws, but it is possible that your insurance company could cancel or decline to renew your policy, restrict coverage provisions or, at a minimum, increase your premiums. Although the hike in price can vary greatly, your premiums could potentially double or even triple. How your insurer reacts to your DUI/DWI may be worse if you have other "strikes" on your driving record like traffic tickets, a prior drunk driving conviction, at-fault accidents, late or unpaid insurance premiums or other negative history with the insurer.

Private insurance for high-risk drivers

If your insurance is cancelled or raised to a prohibitively high price by your current insurer, you can seek coverage elsewhere. There are some insurance companies that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers. This type of auto policy, called a "nonstandard policy," is especially geared toward the high-risk market of drivers, including those with a history of drunk driving or multiple moving violations, or those living in neighborhoods with a high rate of vandalism. Since a nonstandard policy creates a higher risk for the insurer, it comes at a price; these policies have notoriously high premiums.

State-created high-risk insurance mechanisms

Several state governments have set up various systems for covering high-risk drivers who might otherwise be deemed uninsurable, passing on the costs of such systems to the insurance companies themselves. A very common state-created mechanism is the "assigned-risk pool," also known as a "residual-insurance pool," where auto insurers are assigned a number of otherwise uninsurable drivers in proportion to the insurance companies' presence in the state insurance market. Other publicly sustained insurance systems include joint underwriting associations and reinsurance facilities. Considered the automobile insurance option of last resort, premiums for these state-created insurance programs tend to be markedly higher than for privately procured insurance.

Other issues coming with a drunk driving conviction

Other significant issues can include:

  • A DUI/DWI/OUI/OWI conviction can also impact your premiums for medical and life insurance, or you may be deemed uninsurable.
  • After a drunk driving conviction, you are considered a high-risk driver for a period of time, usually between five and 10 years. Most states require such drivers to obtain what are known as "SR-22" forms from their insurance companies. These forms are available for a fee and certify that a high-risk driver is insured.
  • These insurance issues are highly regulated by each state and can vary in how they are handled, so it is important to know the law in your state and what variations to these issues that law may bring.
  • If because of your drunk driving conviction you are paying expensive premiums, there may be other ways to lessen the price of your insurance. You could consider driving an older car and/or a non-sports car, moving to a safer neighborhood, maintaining a clean driving record or taking a safe-driving class, as these could all have a positive impact on your insurance costs. You could also think about adding safety equipment to your car, paying all your bills on time to boost your credit rating, staying current on your insurance premiums or even moving closer to your workplace to shorten your daily commute.
  • Not all states require auto insurance as a condition of driving, but those that do not require insurance have financial responsibility laws that assign liability to at-fault drivers in accidents for resulting medical expenses or property damage. Even if it is not mandated by state law, auto insurance is still highly recommended to cover this legal responsibility.

Speak to a drunk driving defense lawyer

A drunk driving conviction can wreak havoc on your automobile insurance coverage. If you are feeling the negative effects of a drunk driving conviction, an attorney at Thomas J. Quinn, Attorney at Law in Greenville, SC, can help you to sort out the issues and investigate solutions.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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