Everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes, however, can have longer term effects than others. Getting a DUI or DWI can be a mistake with lifelong ramifications if you do not take steps to reduce the effects and get your life back. One of the consequences that many people do not expect is the sharp increase in the amount that they pay for auto insurance. Many insurance companies have special DUI insurance rates that will be much more than what you were paying before.
DUI/DWI and Auto Insurance Rates
A conviction for driving under the influence will raise the rates you pay for auto insurance – but by how much? The exact number will vary by your policy and insurance company as well as the exact charges added to your record. This is because you are now viewed as a higher insurance risk. Insurance companies assume, whether right or wrong, that you will continue to drive under the influence or make other risky driving decisions. Even if you show that you are a responsible driver for a long period of time, you still may have to pay higher insurance rates. A DUI/DWI actually raises the amount paid for auto insurance more than getting into a moving vehicle accident.
Exactly how much should you plan to pay? Depending on your unique circumstances, you may see your rates go up anywhere from 30% to 200%. Some insurance companies may even drop you from their plan or refuse to let you buy insurance. If this happens, you will need to shop around to buy special DUI insurance. The amount of time that a DWI stays on your insurance record depends on several factors, but the most important are how long it stays on your driving record.
Other Factors in DWI Insurance Rates
In addition to your DUI, there are other factors that may affect how much your rates are increased, whether you need special DUI insurance, and how long the DWI stays on your insurance plan. Your driving record is a very important factor. In general, if you have a good driving record before the DUI, the insurance companies will be more lenient and you will have slightly less consequences. However, even drivers with perfect records will see a sharp increase in insurance rates. A long as the DWI stays on your insurance, you can expect to pay much more than other people.
Having a DUI on your driving record will also affect your life in other ways. If you had a special driver’s license, such as for commercial driving, you may lose this and be unable to get it back until your driving record is clear.
Is DUI Insurance the Answer?
Many people who have a DWI on their record will begin to get advertisements for special DUI insurance, which are plans that cater to people who have been convicted or pled guilty to driving under the influence. These plans tend to offer fewer “bells and whistles” than other plans and are merely a minimum coverage policy. In addition, they cost a great deal more than other policies, even ones offered by the same insurance company. This is both frustrating and expensive. However, for many people, it is the only option for as long as the DWI stays on your insurance record.
How Long a DWI Stays on Your Insurance
Most people who are convicted of a DWI will always have a criminal record. However, it will be on your driving record for a much shorter amount of time in most cases. How long a DWI stays on your insurance and driving record varies by state. In some states, it is a period of just a few years. In other states, a DUI/DWI stays on your driving record for life, or until you hire an attorney and get it removed.
Most states fall somewhere between these two extremes. In California and New Hampshire, for example, a DUI is on your driving record for ten years. Arizona, however, only will keep a DUI on your driving record for five years. This means that the DWI stays on your insurance for this period, and you will likely need special DUI insurance during this time. Alaska has the most severe laws, leaving a DUI/DWI on your driving record permanently. In addition, many states have laws that insurance companies can only charge more for a set time period after a DUI conviction, which is usually three to seven years. Depending on your state, this may not apply if you get other driving charges during this time or if this is not your first DUI.
This does not just affect your insurance rates, but the rest of your life as well. Many employers look at your driving record, especially if they plan to let you drive a company vehicle. How long a DWI stays on your insurance could affect whether you get certain jobs.
When Do DUI Rates Start?
Your rates will probably not increase immediately after your DWI. In most cases, you will be contacted by our insurance company when it is time to renew your plan. They will either offer you higher rates, offer you special DUI insurance plans, or decline to insure you altogether. Although these may seem unfair, these are all unfortunately totally legal actions.
Are There Ways to Fight Back?
There are several ways that a DUI attorney can help reduce the length of time that DWI stays on your insurance and the overall cost of DUI insurance. First, they can help you to fight your charges. In many cases, people can get off a DUI or DWI charge on a technicality. In other cases, the charges can be reduced to ones that do not affect your driving record as severely, reducing the need for DUI insurance.
A lawyer who specializes in DUI can also let you know what the impact will be on your life, how long the DWI stays on your insurance, whether you will need special DUI insurance and more. In some cases, a lawyer can petition to have the charge removed from your driving record, which means the DWI stays on your insurance for a much shorter time.
Regardless of the kind of help you need from a DUI lawyer, there are several documents you should have ready at your first appointment. Remember to bring:
- Paperwork related to your current DUI charges
- A list of court dates and other hearings that you have been told to attend
- All communication with the district attorney, the police, and any agencies involved in your case
- The names and numbers of people who were witnesses or who can attest to your character
- Information related to your driving record
Is It Possible to Remove a DUI/DWI From Your Driving Record?
Most states make it very difficult to change your driving record. For many people, the best way to avoid needing DUI insurance is to fight DWI charges effectively before a conviction. However, there are special cases where you can have your driving record cleared. An experienced attorney who specializes in cases like yours will be able to tell you whether your case is worth a fight.
Getting a DUI can be devastating to your life in a variety of ways. It can mean not just higher DUI insurance rates, but also losing your job and even spending time in jail. It is important to get help from someone who specializes in cases just like yours. This is the only way you can move on from this mistake and get on with your life.