California DUI Insurance Issues

Will a DUI Increase Insurance Rates?

If you have been arrested for DUI in California, you may be concerned about how it will affect your auto insurance. The truth is a DUI conviction can lead to increased insurance rates among other penalties. Nothing is likely to change with your insurance policy until after you are convicted of DUI. If charges are still pending, you have not been proven to have done anything wrong so insurance companies will have no reason to raise your rates. If you apply for new insurance while charges are pending, however, you could be turned down. The reason for this is that insurers do not want to issue a policy to someone until they know what their driving history is really like.

After a conviction, insurance companies cannot raise your rates until you renew your policy. It is against California law to change the terms of an insurance policy midway through, so nothing will happen to your rates until after you are convicted and your current policy expires.

After a conviction, it is likely that your insurance company will raise your premium. The amount that is rises will depend on the terms of your previous policy and whether your arrest labeled you as a high risk driver. What's more, under California law, you will not be eligible to get a good driver discount from your auto insurance until ten years after a DUI conviction. It is a good idea to shop around to different companies after a DUI conviction in order to get the best auto insurance rate.

Informing the Insurance Company of a DUI

If a person is convicted of DUI in California, there is no law that states that they must inform their auto insurance of this fact. Instead, the insurance company will usually find out in one of two ways:

  • The Insurer checks your DMV record – when auto insurance policies are re-newed or you apply for a new policy, the company will run a DMV check on you. Any traffic violations or DUI convictions from the past ten years will show up on your record.
  • You request a SR-22 form – in California, as a term of license reinstatement, a driver must submit a form from their insurance company called a SR-22.  This is evidence to the insurance company to check your DMV record.

In some cases, your auto insurance provider may not be willing to provide you with a Sr-22 and the high risk insurance that you need. This does not mean you will not be able to find proper insurance, many companies offer high risk polices in California.

California SR-22 Form

When an offender loses their license due to DUI or any other driving offense, they will need to request a SR-22 form from their auto insurance company in order to get their license reinstated. Most sentences spell out the requirements of license reinstatement and include items such as:

  • Completion of a DUI education program
  • License suspension for a given period of time
  • Submission of a SR-22 form

This form is proof from your insurance company that you have proper auto insurance coverage that meets the states minimum requirements. Because drivers who are convicted of DUI are considered to be more of a threat to other drivers, the DMV wants to make sure that they are covered in case they cause an accident in the future. Most convictions will require you to keep an SR-22 for up the three years after you get your license back.

In California, the minimum auto insurance coverage requirements are often referred to as 15/30/5 and include:

  • A minimum of $15,000 worth of coverage for causing injury or death to one person
  • A minimum of $30,000 worth of coverage for causing injury or death to multiple people
  • A minimum of $5,000 worth of coverage for property damage

When you request this form from your insurer, it serves as a method for them to discover that you have been convicted of DUI or another serious traffic offense.

Any of the following circumstances can lead to a request for an SR-22:

  • License reinstatement after administrative suspension by the DMV
  • License reinstatement after DUI or a similar offense such as reckless driving involving alcohol
  • License reinstatement after being declared a habitual offender
  • Causing an auto accident when you were uninsured

You will also need a SR-22 form is you are applying to get a temporary or restricted license after a DUI conviction.

California DUI Defense Lawyer

Your insurance rates will only go up and you will only have to file a SR-22 form if you are convicted of DUI. If you are arrested for DUI but are found not guilty or are able to have the charges dismissed, you will not have to worry about your auto insurance rates. The best way to fight your charges is to hire an experienced California DUI lawyer.

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Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP is a criminal defense law firm serving Southern California. We represent clients who have been charged with DUI and other crimes that are looking for aggressive defense lawyers who can help them fight the charges they face. For more information, contact our firm today.