Here are the answers to three common questions regarding car insurance and alcohol-related driving violations.
What will a DUI conviction do to my car insurance rates?In general, once your insurance company sees that you have a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) on your driving record, there is no doubt that you'll see an increase in your auto insurance rates. It's not just a little hike in your rate; based on an analysis of rates from six major insurers commissioned by Insurance.com through Quadrant Information Services, the average increase after a single DUI is 82 percent. Where you live makes a difference in how much your auto insurance rates will rise. For instance, in South Carolina, the average increase was 50 percent. Across the state line in North Carolina, according to the data, the average increase was 321 percent. The car insurance company you choose also makes a big difference. While driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is seen as a major offense and seriously risky behavior by all car insurance companies, some weigh the risk differently. For example, the same driver with a single DUI shopping for car insurance in North Carolina would see rates as low as $1,597 a year or as high as $4,285. The sure bet is that you will be paying a lot more for your car insurance premium and will lose any preferred status that you had obtained. Your current car insurance company may even cancel your policy, if state laws allow, or non-renew it at the end of your policy period. You'll the have to find coverage with a new auto insurance company that offers coverage to high-risk drivers.
How long will a DUI affect my rates?Insurance company guidelines, governed by state laws, dictate how long your rates will be affected by a driving DUI conviction. As with most minor or major convictions, a DUI will raise your car insurance rates for at least three years.
If your state keeps the offense on your record longer than three years, and many do, it's common for this offense to affect your car insurance rates for five years to seven year or even more. For instance, in California, a DUI prevents you from receiving a 20 percent safe-driver discount for 10 years from the date of your DUI conviction.