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If you have a DUI or DWI conviction in California, you probably have a lot of questions as to how this affects you and your ability to obtain insurance. Here are some answers to the most common questions about DUI Insurance.
How long will a DUI stay on my driving record?
According to California law, a DUI conviction will remain on your public driving record for ten years. This record is made available for all public requestors, including insurance companies.
How do I get the conviction removed from my driving record after the ten years have passed?
You don’t need to do anything to get this conviction removed from your record. Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically remove the violation from your driving record after ten years from the violation date.
Is the ten-year time frame the same for commercial drivers?
No. The ten-year time frame that a DUI conviction remains on the driving record applies to non-commercial drivers. Those with a CDL who have had their license suspended or have committed a major moving violation are subject to penalties set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 and may have these convictions appear on their driving record for 55 years.
What are some of the consequences of having a DUI conviction on my driving record?
The most critical impact of having a DUI conviction on your driving record is that it will increase your premiums, possibly by hundreds of dollars and for several years. Additionally, California drivers will not be eligible for a good driver discount for ten years following their DUI conviction, nor will they qualify for the low-income automobile insurance program offered by the state, as that program is only available to those with good driving records. If you drive for a living and your employer participates in the Employer Pull Notice (EPN) program, a copy of your driving record will be mailed to them when you are hired as well as on an annual basis and could affect your employment.
Should I tell my insurance company about my DUI conviction?
If you already have insurance, your rates will likely stay the same until it is time to renew the policy. At that point, most companies will obtain your driving record and will adjust your rates accordingly. It may be helpful to inform your agent before the policy renewal date so that you can be aware of what sort of increase or other potential consequences you face.
Can my insurance company cancel my policy as a result of my conviction?
Yes. Your insurance policy is subject to cancellation by you or your insurer due to a DUI conviction. Not all carriers accept drivers with a major driving violation such as DUI. If your insurance company cancels your policy, you must immediately get insurance from another company.
Will a DUI conviction make it hard for me to get insurance?
While it will make your insurance more expensive and may require you to change insurance carriers, rest assured — many companies work with high-risk drivers, including those who have had a DUI conviction. The key to finding insurance to suit your circumstance is comparing rates from multiple insurance companies.
Additionally, you may be eligible to participate in the California Automobile Assigned Risk Program (CAARP). This program will assign you to an insurance company. All companies participating in the program must charge the same premiums, and you can pay in installments.
How much does a DUI increase my insurance premiums?
Auto insurance policies vary a lot. Because insurance premiums are determined using a number of factors, it all depends on your insurance company guidelines. Each company defines “high risk” a little differently. If your insurance company accepts drivers with a major violation such as DUI, you will lose your good driver discount at renewal. If they do not allow drivers with a major violation, the insuring company will send you a non-renewal notice at the end of your policy term.
What is a SR-22, and do I need to file one?
The SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility. It is often required for high risk drivers who have had their license suspended due to a DUI conviction. Other reasons that a driver might be required to provide a SR-22 is if you’ve been found driving without insurance, have been involved in a serious accident, or if you have a large number of points on your driving record.
You will be notified by the Department of Motor Vehicles if a SR-22 is needed. A SR-22 is filed by your insurance company when it comes time for you to reinstate your suspended or revoked license. Essentially, this certificate states that you meet the state’s minimum car insurance requirements currently, and will continue to do so for a set period of time — often three years. Contrary to popular belief, the SR-22 is not, itself, a form of insurance. It is simply a proof of insurance. Drivers who are under SR-22 compliance are subject to the same regulations and minimum insurance requirements as anyone else.
What other impacts might I face with a SR-22 filing?
Because the SR-22 is only required for high risk drivers, if your insurance company does not cover high risk drivers, they may not be able to file this certificate for you. You may be required to obtain insurance from a different company that specializes in high risk drivers. Additionally, if you receive any other violations during the time period in which the SR-22 is effective, you may be required to file your SR-22 for a longer amount of time.
Is there a fee for filing the SR-22?
Yes. If you are over 21 years of age, the DMV will assess a $125 fee in order to reissue your license after suspension or revocation. The fee is $100 if you are under 21 years of age and your license was suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law. Additionally, the insurance company filing your SR-22 will require a fee of around $25 in order to complete this service for you.
What can I do to decrease my insurance premiums following a DUI conviction?
This is a case where time is your friend. Time for the ten years to pass and the conviction to be cleared from your record. Time to get older, which can cause your insurance premiums to decrease. Time to get a new job, to purchase a car that is considered lower risk or a home in a safer area. In addition to the passage of time and the benefits that provides in terms of how your premiums are calculated, the best thing you can do to decrease the amount of money you pay for insurance is good, clean driving. With no more violations, eventually you will again be able to purchase a standard insurance policy and qualify for good driver discounts.
Getting Insurance in California after A DUI
On average, every year in California, there are nearly 150,000 DUI convictions. That means that each year, almost 150,000 drivers in California must navigate the tricky aftermath of receiving a DUI. This might include dealing with an Order of Suspension, requesting a restricted license, or attending a court-ordered Driving Under the Influence Program. It will also almost certainly include getting a new insurance policy.
In California, legislation enables insurance companies to base their policies on a driver’s driving record going back ten years. A DUI conviction will unquestionably affect the policy. It could simply mean that a driver’s good driver discount is revoked. More likely, though, the insurance company will modify a driver’s existing policy with an increased premium, require the driver to get a new policy with a considerably higher premium or cancel the policy altogether.
Why You Always Need Insurance
- California Registration Insurance Law
While a canceled insurance policy might not sound like such a bad idea while your driver’s license is suspended—no insurance premium means more money is staying in your wallet—this is illegal for anyone who owns a vehicle. In California, even if a vehicle is not in use, it must be covered by liability insurance.
Additionally, after a DUI, if a driver cancels their insurance coverage and fails to send in updated insurance information within the 45 days, state police are notified.
- State Requirements for Insurance Companies
By law, insurance companies must report updated insurance information to the DMV (i.e., A driver’s insurance has been canceled because they have gotten a DUI). When the DMV receives this information, they will notify drivers that they have 45 days to submit new insurance information. If they do not, their vehicle registration will be suspended.
- Requirements for Restricted And Suspended Licenses
If a driver gets a restricted license or when their license suspension ends, to operate a vehicle, they must have insurance. The DMV keeps track of all of this.
DUI Insurance Companies
Can You Get Insurance After A DUI?
Many drivers that receive a DUI worry that they simply will not find insurance. In California, this is not the case. State law requires that every driver carry insurance. Because of this, they are required to create options for everyone. This is why, if all else fails, drivers can rely on the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan.
In this program, drivers are matched with car insurance companies. A driver might even be matched with a previous insurer as all insurance companies are required to accept a policy from CAARP
Alternatively, drivers with a DUI conviction can also rely on insurance agencies that represent multiple carriers. These agencies will have a driver’s best interest in mind, with a goal to find the most affordable rates and reliable coverage. Some agencies even specialize in identifying optimal insurance coverage for high-risk drivers. They will compare quotes with carriers that are more DUI-friendly.
GM Insurance Services is one such agency. We specialize in non-standard auto insurance for high-risk drivers in need of insurance after a DUI. Please contact us by phone or on our website for a free quote.
DUI Insurance Rates
To your insurance company, a DUI indicates a significantly increased risk. According to research, a blood alcohol concentration that is above the legal limit makes a driver 11 times more likely than a sober driver to get into a fatal car crash—and this does not include the increased likelihood for non-fatal car crashes. In short, a DUI in California will stay on your public driving record for ten years and, until those ten years are up and the DUI no longer shows on your driving record, insurance companies will view you as having a significantly higher risk than other drivers.
This higher risk carries with it an extra cost. This additional cost comes both from the insurance company and from the state of California. After a DUI, California requires a driver’s insurance company to file an SR-22 to prove that they are carrying the state-mandated amount of car insurance coverage or more. An SR-22 reinstates a driver’s driving privileges after the State has suspended their license. This form must be submitted to DMV for up to three years after a driver’s license suspension. An SR-22 Form can cost up to $50.
How to Lower Your Premiums after a DUI Conviction
There is no quick fix that will allow a driver to immediately reduce their insurance premiums to what they were before the DUI conviction. However, several steps can be taken that will help drivers to lower their premiums over the long-term.
- Get the DUI Conviction Reduced
In California, it is not just being convicted of a DUI or not being convicted of a DUI. Drivers can get slightly lessened convictions, including dry reckless and wet reckless. These convictions are still considered major moving violations, though. They will result in an additional two points being added to a driving record, just like a DUI would. However, while a DUI stays on a driving record for ten years, wet and dry reckless are removed from driving records after only seven years. That means premium rates will drop substantially three years earlier than they otherwise would have, allowing drivers to save at least several hundred dollars, if not more.
- Take Classes
Insurance carriers appreciate when drivers take steps to improve their driving. These steps can come in various forms. For some carriers, they will be willing to reduce premiums if the policyholder begins attending AA or NA. Other carriers might prefer policyholders with a DUI conviction to take more driving-specific courses. For example, a 6-hour defensive driving course can allow drivers to get points taken off of their driver’s license. This, in turn, will encourage their carriers to reduce their premiums—sometimes by as much as 15%. Drivers should speak to their carrier to find out what will enable them to reduce their premium and by how much they can reduce it.
- Do Not Get Other Violations
As previously stated, insurance carriers partially base premiums off of a driver’s record. So while drivers cannot change their age or gender, they can work to improve their record. This means avoiding traffic violations, like speeding tickets. It also means being a more cautious driver to avoid car accidents.
- Multi-Driver Discounts
Many drivers are on a family policy. It is almost always the most cost-effective method. However, because many carriers will not offer coverage for high-risk drivers, most individuals who receive a DUI will simply opt out of the family policy. They will then purchase a separate policy. Unfortunately, this often increases the premiums for both drivers, as the good driver’s multi-driver discount will be taken away when they are the only person on the policy.
Most times, it is best to move all of the drivers to a carrier that will cover a high-risk driver and offer a multi-driver discount.
- Address Other Areas That Effect the Premium
As previously stated, the DUI is not the only factor that a carrier will take into consideration when deciding on a driver’s insurance premium. It is for this reason that drivers can begin to address the other factors. The first factor that can be actively addressed is driving a safer car. When cars have certain safety features, including airbags, car alarms, anti-lock breaks, and more, insurance carriers view this as a reduction in risk. Because of the risk reduction, they will reduce the premium.
Another way for drivers with a DUI to reduce their premium is to take a look at their deductible. The deductible is what drivers must pay out-of-pocket before their insurance starts to cover them. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Raising a deductible to a high enough amount could lower the premium by up to 40%.