Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) is a humbling and embarrassing experience. Unfortunately, it can also be very expensive. Fines, fees, classes, probation, ignition interlock devices, and legal fees can add up to thousands of dollars before you even realize it. One aspect of being arrested and convicted of a DUI that many don't readily consider is the way it can affect your auto insurance policy. To find out more, read on.
Should You Inform Your Carrier?
If you have an existing insurance policy, you are under no obligation to report the DUI to them (unless you were also in a wreck at the same time). Most people pay for their insurance by the policy period, which can run for six months or a year or other time periods. Once you pay your premium, your rate and coverage is locked in and guaranteed. Once that renewal period ends, however, your DUI may come to light.
Some, but not all, insurers check the motor vehicle records of clients by running a check on their driver's license. Since most of the time you can expect your driver's license to be suspended with a DUI arrest, the information about the DUI may become visible to the insurer. The driver's license issue has several ramifications. Most insurers won't cover drivers who are not licensed to drive. The way the insurance company handles the problem depends on what you've done to deal with your license.
Since most people need to drive to work, school, to get food, etc., you may be issued a restricted license to perform certain errands, such as going back and forth to your job. As long you have driving privileges, your policy won't be automatically canceled. They may contact you for your updated license number and information, however. As to a rise in rates, that varies from carrier to carrier. Some carriers will cancel any policyholder with a DUI conviction, and some will keep you but raise your policy rates.
Even though informing your current insurer is not necessary, you will need to disclose your DUI if you change companies or purchase a new car. They will find out about the DUI when they perform the license check, and being up front is always a good idea.
The Difference in an Arrest and a Conviction
It's important to point out that a DUI arrest and a DUI conviction are far from the same thing. With the help of a drunk driving attorney, you have an opportunity to have that charge changed, reduced, or dropped. DUI arrests are full of potential problems when law enforcement fails to make a legal stop and perform proper field sobriety testing. Never allow your arrest to be the final outcome—seek help and avoid the nightmare that a DUI will have on your record by fighting back.