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Driving Under The Influence And Car Insurance Don't Mix
Drinking and driving is obviously a mistake for many reasons. One of the effects of a 'driving under the influence' conviction that many people fail to realize - is just how severely your car insurance rates can be affected. If you're covered by a policy at the time you're convicted of a DUI, your rates may increase dramatically or your policy may be canceled. If you don't have car insurance at the time of a DUI conviction, you may find it very difficult securing future coverage.
Below, you'll learn more about how drunk driving can affect your car insurance policy and your rates. We'll also describe the purpose of an SR-22 form, which may be a requirement if you are convicted of a DUI offense and wish to legally drive again. Also, we'll offer a few tips that you can use to get car insurance in the event that you're caught driving under the influence.
The Purpose Of An SR-22 After a DUI Offense
Driving under the influence carries significant consequences. If you're caught and convicted of a DUI, you'll likely be required to file an SR-22. In its simplest form, an SR-22 is a legal statement (document) that validates that you have adequate car insurance coverage. An offender's suspended driver's license is usually returned when this statement is filed.
Most states (there are a few exceptions) legally require drivers who have received a DUI conviction to file an SR-22 with their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Some car insurance carriers offer special SR-22 coverage for "high risk" drivers, charging much higher premiums. Other insurers won't offer such coverage and will simply cancel a "high risk" driver's policy.
An SR-22 form can be obtained from your auto insurance company (once they have decided to insure you) when purchasing your car insurance.
A DUI Can Remain Under The Radar - For a While
Occasionally there's somewhat of a disconnect between the local court system and the local department of motor vehicles. DUI convictions are supposed to be delivered to the DMV that is located in the jurisdiction of the court. Sometimes, this fails to happen. When a DUI offense isn't reported to a driver's local DMV, that driver's DUI offense may remain hidden, and that driver may be able to effectively avoid filing an SR-22, because their alcohol-related offense is not immediately discovered by their car insurance company. Though this does happen on occasion, insurance providers can eventually learn of a policyholder's DUI - even years later, and act accordingly.
If You've Been Convicted, Don't Wait To Shop Around For An SR-22 Insurance Policy
A common mistake among those who have been convicted of driving under the influence is waiting until their car insurance policy has been canceled before finding an alternative. If your current provider is canceling your policy, it's likely because they know about your DUI from your driving record at the DMV. In that case, anticipate other providers discovering your DUI, too.
It's much more difficult to find a carrier that is willing to offer an SR-22 insurance policy when you're not already covered. Shop early while you still have coverage from your current carrier. If you find that the larger, established insurance carriers are unwilling to insure you, you may want to check with the independent agents in your area.
Picking Up The Pieces And Planning Ahead After a DUI
Driving under the influence can have a dramatic impact on your car insurance for several years. It can substantially increase your rates or cause your current provider to cancel your policy. In short, a DUI severely limits your options. But, if a DUI conviction is in your past, don't let it dissuade you from shopping for car insurance. Assuming the DMV has recorded your DUI in their records, you'll need to pay higher premiums for your policy, but, the alternative - driving without coverage - can lead to hefty penalties, financial loss and even jail time.
Remember, while a DUI conviction can stay on your record for a decade, car insurance companies will typically only use it for premium scoring for 3 years (sometimes less).
Obviously it's in everyone's best interest to just say no to drinking and driving. However, if you're learning this lesson a bit late, it's best to know your options, plan ahead and work diligently toward putting the experience behind you.
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