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What You Need to Know About DUI & Insurance

When someone is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County, or anywhere else in California or the United States, they expect their auto insurance rates to skyrocket once their auto insurance company learns of the DUI conviction. If you were just arrested for DUI, you may be curious, “Am I legally or morally obligated to pick up the phone and notify my insurance company?” It depends on your circumstances.

If you are required to obtain an SR-22 certificate proving that you’re carrying California’s minimum liability coverage, then yes, you will have to notify your insurance company because they’re the ones that provide it and forward the information to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Until you’re required to obtain an SR-22 certificate, you are under no obligation to notify your insurer about your pending DUI charges. If you hire an experienced DUI attorney, that DUI arrest may not result in a DUI conviction. Aside from being found guilty of DUI, there are other possibilities: Maybe your case will be dismissed, or maybe your DUI charges will be reduced through a plea bargain.

Will My Insurance Company Learn About My DUI?

The insurance company can find out about your DUI when they check your DMV record, which usually happens when you’re up for renewal, or when you are applying for a new policy. When an insurance carrier checks your DMV history, they can see any DUI convictions in the past 10 years because that is how long DUIs are reported on driving records. On criminal records, DUIs stay indefinitely.

If the DMV requires that you obtain an SR-22 certificate, your auto insurance carrier will find out about the DUI. The California SR-22 is a certificate that shows that you have met the State of California’s requirements for carrying liability coverage. Learn about California’s liability coverage limits by clicking here.

Once the DMV suspends or revokes a driver’s license due to a DUI, the defendant is required to obtain SR-22 coverage, otherwise they cannot reinstate their driving privilege. You cannot obtain an SR-22 without getting it from your auto insurance carrier, so your insurance company will find out about your DUI eventually.

When Insurance Rates Increase

If you’re in the middle of your term and you get a DUI, your insurance company cannot cancel the policy or increase the rates until the policy is up for renewal. But, if you apply for a new policy right after your DUI, you can expect your DUI to affect the rates of the new coverage. If convicted of DUI, you would be placed in the “high risk” driver category. You can reasonably expect to pay as much as $800 more per a year for the average three years that you’re required to have an SR-22.

To learn more about how DUIs affect auto insurance premiums and for how long, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free case evaluation!