DUI, DWI, and Insurance
How does a DUI or DWI impact car insurance premiums? We have all seen the commercials telling us that “Drinking And Driving Don’t Mix.” Alcohol impairs judgment, slows reaction times, can lead to drowsiness, and can lead to inattentive or distracted driving.
All 50 states have now adopted a threshold of 0.08% for the blood alcohol content (BAC) that is considered the legal limit. For drivers under 21, the limit is even lower in most states, with many having a zero tolerance standard for younger drivers.
It does not take many drinks to get to the 0.08% BAC threshold. Two drinks can put many drivers over the limit. As the designer beer trend continues to build momentum, drinkers need to take note that many craft beers have significantly higher alcohol content. While a Coors Light is 4.2% alcohol by volume (ABV), many craft beers are 6 to 8% ABV (some are even higher). So drinking two craft beers could be like drinking 4 or more regular beers. (Click Here for alcohol by volume of some popular craft brews).
To see just how little it takes to put you over the legal limit, you can plug some information about yourself and your favorite drink into the blood alcohol content estimator offered by United4Health.Org. BAC Estimator
What Are The Consequences Of A DUI, DWI, or Implied Consent On My Record?
This article will address the insurance consequences. However, there are many more potential consequences, including:
- Potential loss of job;
- Attorney and court costs;
- Possible impound and towing costs;
- Bail charges;
- Potential loss of driving privileges;
- Potential jail time;
- Cost for installation of an ignition interlock;
- Possible loss of a company car.
In addition, some states punish DUI/DWI/Implied Consent (which I will just call DUI for the rest of this article) offenders by forcing them to put “Whisky Plates” on their vehicles, which are license plates that identify you as being a prior offender. The laws regarding the circumstances that require a “Whisky Plate” vary by state.
The insurance consequences of a DUI can be significant. Insurance companies surcharge your insurance premium for such offenses, and the surcharge can be hefty. Insurance company pricing models often look at how different risk characteristics interrelate with each other to predict the likelihood of future loss. It is possible that the surcharge for your first DUI offense might be less, for example, if you otherwise had a clean driving record and good credit, than if you had bad credit and several other moving violations.
Depending upon the state, in which you reside, your insurer can surcharge you for your DUI offense for anywhere from 3 to 7 years. If the surcharge is $1,000 or more (which it can be), that adds up to a lot of money.
What is an SR-22?
After an DUI offense, many states will require that you file an annual proof of insurance statement (often called an SR-22) for a number of years. Because the state now considers you a high risk driver, they want to protect the public from you by making sure you have insurance. You may be required to do this for as long as 5 years (longer if you have another offense). Your insurance company may not offer SR-22 filings. If this is the case, you will need to find coverage elsewhere – probably at a much higher cost and with more restrictive policy terms.
Can I Be Non-Renewed By My Insurer For a DUI?
It is possible that you will no longer meet your insurance company’s filed underwriting eligibility guidelines and your insurer may elect to non-renew you as a result. Depending upon your risk characteristics, and coverage availability in your state, you may be forced into the non-standard automobile market, where coverage can be sub-standard and pricing can be high.
Driving while impaired is not a good idea. You could hurt yourself or others and the financial consequences could be significant. It is not unusual for a first offense, involving no injuries or property damage, to cost the offender $10,000 or more. Think twice before you drink and drive. Call a friend, a cab, or a sober driving service. However, if you find yourself in the position of having had a DUI, you will want to work with a professional insurance agent to explore the insurance options that may be available to you. The best market for you could end up being a non-standard auto insurance company.
This short article is just a summary and, as such, is not a complete treatment of the topic. Laws vary by state, and the information contained herein may not be accurate in all cases. If you find yourself with a DUI and are seeking any advice, your best bet is to seek the counsel of a professional insurance agent or attorney.
Other Enhanced Insurance articles related to Insurance Premiums:
Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.
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