How A DUI Affects Car Insurance In California

Liability is required for all drivers. Generally referred to as a 15/30/5 policy, liability coverage that meets California State guidelines will provide $15,000 for any one person you injure or kill, $30,000 total for 2 or more injuries or deaths, and $5,000 for property damage.

It is impossible to predict exactly how a DUI will affect your insurance due to the vast amount of variables regarding the inner workings of individual insurance companies. However, there are some things that you need be aware of to best protect yourself and still meet California State car insurance requirements.

Technically speaking, you do not have to report a DUI charge to your insurance company.  If the DMV takes an administrative action on your license due to a DUI, or if you are convicted in Court for violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152 or 23153, you will need to get an SR-22.  An SR-22 is a certificate verifying that you meet the California State minimum car insurance requirements.  The DMV will require you obtain an SR-22 and keep it on file for three years, in order to reinstate your driving privileges.

Liability is required for all drivers.  Generally referred to as a 15/30/5 policy, liability coverage that meets California State guidelines will provide $15,000 for any one person you injure or kill, $30,000 total for 2 or more injuries or deaths, and $5,000 for property damage.

The bad news is that obtaining an SR-22 from your insurance company could result in a premium, in addition to putting your insurance company on notice that a change in your driving record has occurred.  An SR-22 is only required for those who have had a serious driving violation like a license suspension due to DUI, being deemed a negligent operator, or having an accident while you do not have insurance.  The request for the SR-22 will trigger your insurance company to look into your driving record, which could lead to an increase in premium or even a cancellation of your policy depending on your company’s standards.  Some insurance companies do not provide SR-22s, which means that you have two options: 1) either change insurance companies, or 2) obtain an SR-22 for an independent broker.

The good news?  The State of California forbids insurance companies from modifying your policy to reflect a negative change in status prior to your renewal date.  In other words, your car insurance policy will not change or be canceled until the end of your policy’s term.  In general, insurance policies can only be modified at the time of renewal or when applying for new coverage.   If you do have to request an SR22, this will give you time to discuss the issue with your insurance company.

Following a DUI, finding an insurance company willing to issue you a new policy can be difficult.   The State of California understands that requiring auto insurance means that there is also a responsibility to provide the resources to obtain that coverage.  There is a program called the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan that can pair you with an insurance company capable of providing coverage for “high risk” or SR-22 clients.  As a result, you may have to go with a smaller insurance company and pay higher rates, but you can find coverage that will meet the California requirements.  Take the time to contact more than one company on the list to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Receiving reduced charges in Court will not necessarily provide any relief to a negative impact on your driving record.  A reduced conviction such as a “wet reckless,” “dry reckless,” or “exhibition of speed” will still result in 2 points on your driving record.  The two points on your driving record will be considered a major traffic violation, which can result in increased premiums.  While the negative impact on your automobile insurance will still be present, a reduction in Court is important to fight for in order to receive reduced sentencing terms in Court.

Again, if you know that your insurance company will become aware of your conviction, your best course of action is to contact it and discuss the matter.   The only way to know exactly what you are facing when it comes to a change or cancellation of your policy is to proactively pursue the answers with your insurance company.

For more information on how your DUI arrest may affect your automobile insurance, contact the DUI Professor today!