As if a DUI arrest isn’t enough trouble, many California DUI defendants also have to worry about the effect DUIs will have on their car insurance rates.
Here’s the good news: according to California law, your auto insurance company can’t cancel a policy or raise premiums midterm. Even if you are convicted of a DUI, your auto insurance provider must wait until the end of your policy’s term to cancel or raise rates.
Unfortunately, once your auto insurance policy does end, a drunk driving conviction almost always leads to higher car insurance rates.
On top of that, your car insurance is just one of the ripple effects of a DUI arrest, which is exactly why so many people decide to find an experienced DUI attorney. Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC is a criminal defense law firm serving Riverside and San Bernardino, CA, and our DUI attorneys help people like you deal with the fallout of a drunk driving arrest. Worrying about all the ways a DUI conviction could ruin your life won’t help you. Our San Bernardino and Riverside DUI attorneys will. Contact us today and request a free consultation to get started or keep reading to find out how DUIs affect car insurance rates.
How Will a DUI Affect Your Car Insurance Rates in California?
This is one of the most common questions our criminal defense attorneys hear. It is also one of the most complicated to answer. While dealing with the criminal justice system can be a long and complicated nightmare, dealing with auto insurance companies and the California DMV isn’t painless either.
Let’s start with the most pressing question after a DUI arrest:
Do you have to report a DUI to your car insurance company? Unless the DMV has ordered you to obtain an SR 22, a California Insurance Proof Certificate, you do not have to report your DUI to your insurance company. Although it might not feel like it right now, you are still innocent until proven guilty. A DUI arrest does not equal a DUI conviction.
However, in certain cases, the California DMV will require you to provide proof of insurance with an SR 22 form. If your driver’s license was suspended because of a DUI-related offense, you will be required to contact your car insurance company for an SR 22 before it is reinstated. This certificate proves that you meet the state’s minimum auto insurance coverage requirements. Your insurance company will probably charge you a $15 or $20 fee, then forward the SR 22 to the DMV.
While this form satisfies the state’s insurance requirements, it also serves as a red flag for insurance companies. In all likelihood, merely asking for an SR 22 will immediately get you flagged as a high-risk driver for at least 10 years to come. As described above, your car insurance company can’t immediately raise your rates or drop your policy, but they can—and usually will—once your policy term ends.
How to Get Car Insurance After a DUI Arrest: High-Risk Drivers and the 15/30/5 Rule
If you hire a criminal defense attorney after a DUI arrest, you may hear about the “15/30/5” rule. This refers to the minimum auto insurance coverage you are required to have under California insurance law. So what is the 15/30/5 rule?
- Your auto insurance liability coverage must pay at least $15,000 for an individual you injure or kill on the road
- Total payments of $30,000 for accidents with multiple injuries or deaths
- $5,000 for any property damage you cause
My Car Insurance Cancelled My Policy Because of a DUI Conviction, Now What?
Remember: it is illegal to drive without car insurance, and the last thing you need right now is to get in more legal trouble. If your auto insurance company refuses to renew your policy, you have to obtain new insurance coverage ASAP or stop driving altogether. In fact, it is illegal to even own a car in California if you do not have car insurance.
Many people do not lose their insurance after a DUI conviction; however, if you had previously taken advantage of good driver discounts, you can expect a significant rate increase. If your car insurance company cancels your good driver policy, make sure to ask if they would be willing to provide another policy instead.
Some car companies don’t insure high-risk drivers at all, which can make it hard to find car insurance coverage with a DUI on your record. If you are having trouble finding a new insurance policy, don’t get discouraged. You can find insurance companies that have policies for everyone, including convicted drunk drivers.
If you still can’t find insurance coverage, there is a state program that will help you. If you’re a high-risk driver who can’t find car insurance, contact the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) online or by calling 1-800-622-0954.
At this point, it may seem like the punishment outweighs the crime. How can one mistake impact your life in so many negative ways?
In the early 1990s, before ignition interlock devices were used in all 50 states, researchers found that between 50 – 70% of drunk drivers continued to drive on their suspended license.
Sadly, many DUI defendants are repeat offenders. Law enforcement agencies believe the average DUI offender drives drunk 80 times before his or her first arrest. Because of this, most DUI laws in the United States were designed with chronic drunk drivers in mind. While this has led to declining drunk driving rates around the country, it has also led to the stigmatization of countless upstanding citizens, who have had their lives turned upside down because a single mistake that ended in a drunk driving arrest.
DUI reporting requirements and punishments are now so severe that the California DMV has a section on their FAQ titled, “Why is the DMV discriminating against individuals with DUI offenses?”
Wondering What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Southern California? Here’s How to Start Moving Forward:
Car insurance companies don’t always find out about an individual’s DUI record. These offenses only stay on your record for 10 years, and you would be surprised how often the infamous California bureaucracy renders a DUI offense invisible through things like computer errors. Sometimes cases do slip through the cracks, and the California DMV and court system is full of cracks. While you wouldn’t be the first person to have a DUI vanish from your record through a lucky accident, this isn’t something you can count on. Computer records make this increasingly unlikely.
If you’re worried about how a DUI arrest will affect your car insurance premiums, employment prospects, criminal record, or any other aspect of your life, you deserve a criminal defense attorney who is willing to fight for you.
If you were arrested for a drunk or drugged driving offense in the San Bernardino or Riverside, California, region, contact Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC, for a free consultation. Our criminal defense law firm answers our phones 24/7, and our Riverside DUI attorneys have 50 years of criminal law experience in Southern California courtrooms.