HOW YOUR FIRST DUI AFFECTS YOUR INSURANCE RATES

A first DUI conviction can cause your insurance premiums to go up by thousands of dollars, and may even force you to be insured by a different insurance company.

In general, a DUI conviction stays on your record for up to 10 years. In California, insurance rates for drivers convicted of a DUI offense can double or triple. For example, an individual with a five-year old automobile carrying only liability coverage can pay an additional $10,000 to $12,000 in insurance the three years following their first DUI conviction.

Additionally, after your first conviction, insurance companies will label you a “high-risk driver.” Under California law, your insurance company must provide DMV with an SR-22 Proof of Insurance Certificate. The SR-22 certificate ends the license suspension that began with a DUI conviction by giving DMV proof that you are insured.

However, not all insurance companies offer SR-22 Proof of Insurance Certificates. So it is possible that your insurance policy won’t be renewed when it expires just because your current insurance company can no longer provide you with coverage.

Typically, if your insurance company chooses not to renew your insurance, you will be sent a notice stating why they’ve made this decision. You will then have to find another insurer, but insurance companies such as AAA, Allstate or Geico probably won’t be able to insure you because they don’t offer SR-22 coverage so they can avoid insuring drunk drivers.

It is also possible that insurance company won’t find out or will miss a conviction. According to a June 2002 study by the Insurance Research Council, as many as one out of four driving convictions did not show up on motor vehicle records. Because many insurance companies review DMV records every three years, it is possible that, if you are not required to get a SR-22, the insurance company will not find out about your conviction.

If your insurance company doesn’t find out about the conviction when it happens, it generally has three years to cancel your policy or raise your rates because of the DUI.

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