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How Does a California DUI Conviction Affect my Auto Insurance?

  • September 1, 2017

    If you are convicted of DUI or driving under the influence in California, you could have problems with your reputation. It can be problematic with your auto insurance company because it can find out about the arrest.

    Insurance companies check the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records of insurance holders, especially before renewing policies. The insurance company may also find out about it after you submit an SR 22, which reinstates your suspended driving privileges.

    There is good news here though. Even if you have been arrested for DUI in California, your insurance company will not raise your premium. It is also not allowed by law to cancel your policy while it is still in its term. However, it has the right to cancel or raise your premium if it is up for renewal. If your insurance company decides to cancel your policy, you may have to look for another auto insurance firm. While it is difficult, it does not mean it cannot be done. However, you should already expect that your premium will be higher than before.

    How the Auto Insurance Company Learns about the DUI

    You can report your DUI arrest to your car insurance company, but you are not required by law to do so. In most cases, you will not gain anything if you report your DUI. There are also cases where an arrest has no consequences, but it may not be the same if you have been convicted of the charge. You could win the case after getting arrested, or your charges may be reduced. It is also possible that you will prevail during the DMV hearing.

    There have been instances where the insurance company does not learn about the DUI arrest or conviction. Often, they are a result of computer or human error. Nevertheless, this may not be the case with you. Car insurance companies eventually find out about the DUI in California even if you choose not to share this information with them. In general, there are two ways that they discover the arrest:

    The insurance carrier checks the DMV record of the person. The company will check the driving record because the policy should be renewed or the person is applying for new insurance coverage. Additionally, if the insurance holder fails to appear at a DUI hearing, it will be on record for ten years. It is a long time for the insurance company to discover the DUI charge.

    The other way is when the California Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV requires the insurance holder to get an SR 22, which is a certificate of insurance that the person has met the minimum requirements for car insurance liability coverage.

    A DUI is just one of the reasons why a person may be required to get an SR 22. Other reasons include being defined as a negligent operator and being uninsured when involved in an accident. You should tell your insurance company why the DMV requires you to obtain the file. However, your carrier may not really mind what your reason is that the SR 22 request will adversely affect your policy.

    The company may also believe that you are a high-risk driver, which will result in increasing your premium. There are some auto insurance companies that do not offer SR22. If yours does not, your policy will definitely be canceled.

    Auto Insurance Premiums after a DUI

    It is highly likely that your car insurance premium will increase after a DUI conviction. However, there have been many cases where the company does not impose the hike. In California, drunk driving is not necessarily the only consideration in raising your premium. There are other factors that your insurance company may consider before the increase, which includes your age, your gender, your driving experience and your history.

    After considering the other factors, your premium may remain the same or may increase. If you are wondering how much the increase will be, it will depend on the insurance company itself. However, you will no longer be eligible for a discount, which is given to good drivers. This ineligibility will last for a period of 10 years after you have been arrested (not convicted) for DUI.

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