Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and can have many consequences on your own safety and the safety of others as well as auto insurance and your finances. After a DUI, you may find it more difficult to find affordable auto insurance coverage.
It’s important to understand the differences between a DUI and a DWI, as well as the consequences of a DUI. One important consideration is to understand how long a DUI affects insurance rates and coverage. We’ll explain how insurance companies find out about a DUI, how much DUI insurance costs, and what SR-22 means.
DUI stands for driving under the influence and occurs when someone operating a vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which includes illegal, over-the-counter, or prescription drugs. Some states also use DWI (driving while intoxicated or impaired). These terms are similar but can vary slightly by state.
For alcohol, a DUI or DWI means a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher in most states. A driver who is under the age of 21 can receive a DUI with a BAC lower than 0.08, but this varies among states as well.
Your BAC can be measured by a breathalyzer or blood test and corresponds to the alcohol circulating throughout your body. The amount of alcohol you have been drinking affects your BAC.
Your liver can only process about one standard drink of alcohol per hour, but this number varies by individual. The remaining alcohol that can’t be processed circulates throughout your bloodstream and your body.
The number 0.08 is used because that is the threshold that most people show signs of impairment. If you are driving a vehicle and your BAC is at 0.08 or above, this is grounds for a DUI. You will most likely be put under arrest and taken to jail.
When it comes to drugs, an officer will determine if you are impaired by those substances. They could also do a urine or blood test to determine what substances were used.
If you’re pulled over by law enforcement for a traffic stop and they suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer can perform field sobriety tests. This suspicion could also happen after a motor vehicle accident or during a DUI checkpoint.
A DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense in most states and will stay on your driving record for a few years. It will also remain on your criminal record for several years, so it will come up during a criminal background check.
Not only that but driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous. You could injure yourself, your passengers, or other drivers in a car accident. Many drunk driving accidents are fatal for innocent drivers or their passengers.
There are also financial and legal implications. You will need to hire an attorney to help represent you in court for the criminal charges, which can be very expensive. Your auto insurance rates will increase.
In most states, you will lose your driving privileges. This could be for a few months or a few years, depending on the state and the severity of your offense.
If there was a car accident, you will also have medical bills if you or others were hospitalized. You could also be sued if you caused injuries to others.
Your insurance policy may not cover damage to your vehicle if the accident occurred because of drunk driving. All these situations can affect your financial future.
The higher the BAC, the more serious the punishment an individual may receive. Other consequences vary with individual cases and in different states, but some people may also have to complete community service, jail time, safe driving programs, or other alcohol-related programs.
Subsequent DUIs will result in additional consequences. In many states, multiple offenses are considered a felony.
Insurance companies will find out about a DUI when it is time to purchase or renew your auto insurance policy. The company will review your motor vehicle report or driving record and see the DUI or DWI conviction there.
If you get a DUI, you may be dropped from your current auto insurance company. They will not drop your coverage in the middle of a policy, but they can avoid renewing your policy for being high risk. It is important to compare quotes online to find the most affordable coverage for DUI insurance.
You will need to find a new auto insurance policy if this is the case. Whether the company does or doesn’t renew your current coverage, you can expect that your insurance rates will increase.
You should also expect how much your insurance will go up after a DUI. After the first DUI offense, the average increase in auto insurance rate is just under $1,800 yearly or $150 a month. In some states, a DUI could double or triple your insurance rates.
In some states, you may also have to complete an SR-22 form, which can also be more costly.
SR-22 is not a type of insurance.
It is a document or form filed by your auto insurance company and means you have the minimum liability insurance required by the state. It is also sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility or FR-44.
The insurance company also must notify the state if your policy is canceled, lapses, or expires. SR-22 insurance is required for at least three years in most states but can be longer in some states. Your license can be suspended if you don’t comply with the SR-22 requirements of your state.
Some insurance companies won’t file an SR-22 form for you and will drop your coverage. You will need to purchase a new policy with a different insurance company that will file the SR-22 form if this is the case.
The amount of time that DUI insurance affects you varies state by state. Some states keep a DUI on your driving record for five to 10 years.
Some insurance companies may allow customers to qualify for lower rates within a few years. You must have a clean driving record for 24 to 36 months before your rates can be lowered.
When it comes to driving, always make good decisions if you’re using alcohol or drugs. Make sure you have a sober driver, use a ride-sharing service or taxi, or avoid these substances when you are driving. A DUI could have lifelong consequences for yourself and others.
Melissa Morris writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org.