As if a DUI arrest isn't enough trouble, many California DUI defendants also have to worry about the effect the DUI may have on their car insurance rates. Your insurance company will likely raise your premium about 20 to 30 percent for a period of time after you're convicted of DUI. The exact rate depends on several factors, including your age, BAC level, whether the DUI caused bodily injury or property damage, and whether the DUI was your first.
Here's the good news: according to California law, your auto insurance company can't cancel a policy or raise premiums midterm. This means that even if you're convicted of a DUI, your auto insurance provider must wait until the end of your policy's term to cancel or raise rates. Unfortunately, however, once your auto insurance policy does end, a drunk driving conviction almost always leads to a higher car insurance rate.
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence in California and are worried about your insurance premiums increasing, among other associated penalties, contact the experts at The Aron Law Firm for help protecting your legal rights.
How a DUI Conviction Affects California Car Insurance Rates
When an insurer is considering selling or renewing an insurance policy, they typically pull two sets of records: the driver's DMV driving record and their California criminal record.
Insurers decide whether to insure someone—and, if so, at what cost—based on their assessment of the risk the driver poses. Following this line of logic, drivers who have a DUI on their record are considered high-risk. As a result, prices increase for these individuals.
The exact rate at which your premiums may increase depends on a number of factors. Again, it's illegal for insurance companies to adjust your policy before it comes up for renewal. For example, if you get a DUI and you still have eight months left on your policy, your rate is fixed for that eight months.
California law requires that a DUI conviction remain on your driving record for ten years. If you were enjoying some special privileges from the insurance company before the conviction, such as safe driver discounts, these may disappear once your insurance company discovers that you've been involved with a DUI at the start of your new coverage. Fortunately, rates typically start to drop three to five years from the date of the DUI and may return to normal after seven to ten years.
Do You Have to Report a DUI Arrest to Your Car Insurance Company?
There's no legal requirement that says a driver has to notify their auto insurance carrier of a driving under the influence offense. This rule applies equally to DUI arrests, DUI convictions, and DMV administrative driver's license suspensions. However, insurance policies do require drivers to notify their insurer if they were involved in an accident. This means that drivers must notify their insurance company of a DUI offense if it involved an accident.
What Is an SR-22 and How Does It Relate to Car Insurance after a DUI?
Even though drivers are under no legal obligation to inform their insurance provider of a drunk driving offense, insurance carriers typically learn of an offense after running a background check when a driver's existing policy comes up for renewal or if the driver requests an SR-22 certificate.
An SR-22 is a document—formally known as a “California Insurance Proof Certificate”—that your insurer files with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. While some people call it “SR-22 insurance,” this does not refer to an insurance policy but rather your insurer's guarantee that you have at least minimum coverage insurance. If you do need an SR-22, there's no way to avoid it: you have to tell your insurance company about your DUI.
Contact an Experienced Santa Barbara DUI Lawyer at The Aron Law Firm
If you are facing a DUI charge near Santa Barbara and wish to avoid an increased insurance rate, speak with a trusted DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. For questions about how a conviction may affect your insurance policy or to discuss DUI defense strategies with one of our California criminal defense lawyers, contact The Aron Law Firm today. Our expert attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights by investigating your case in detail and building a robust defense. Our legal team is well versed in DUI defense law and may help you avoid the consequences that stem from this offense.
At The Aron Law Firm, we have experience protecting clients from a wide variety of criminal charges. We take a client-centered approach that aims to make the legal process as painless as possible. To speak with a DUI defense attorney, schedule a consultation by calling (805) 618-1768 or completing our online contact form today.