Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is deadly and expensive. Yet it continues to happen every day across the United States. Sadly, alcohol-impaired crashes alone claim more than 10,000 lives per year in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Even if no one is hurt, a driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction can be life-altering. Penalties are severe and can stay with you for a long time, not to mention the possibility of negative media coverage and your mugshot posted online for all to see.
The NHTSA says many substances can impair driving, including alcohol, illegal substances and some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs impair your ability to drive because they slow coordination, judgment and reaction times. Cocaine and methamphetamine can make drivers more aggressive and reckless.
Law enforcement can charge you with a DUI if you have medication in your blood and have had as little as one alcoholic drink. The combination of legal prescription drugs and alcohol could affect your driving, putting you and others at risk.
All U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, according to the NHTSA. BAC is measured with a breathalyzer, a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a person's breath, or a blood test. The presence of drugs is typically measured through urinalysis or a blood sample.
The consequences of a DUI vary among states, insurance companies and situations. However, there are common repercussions.
Losing your driving privileges
Most states suspend driver's licenses for 30 to 90 days immediately after a DUI. Some states extend the suspension to six or even 12 months.
If you get additional DUIs, you could have your license suspended for several years.
The consequences of a DUI can vary. If you were convicted of a DUI and injured another motorist in an at-fault collision, for example, you’ll likely face harsher consequences than someone who was charged with a DUI at a checkpoint or traffic stop.
Proof of insurance needed following a suspended license
Many insurance companies will not insure you after a DUI. Even if you do find an insurer to cover you, your rates will almost certainly be higher because of your driving history.
To get your license and driving privileges back, you and your insurance company will likely have to provide the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with a form that proves you have motor vehicle liability insurance. The insurance company is required to notify the DMV if the policy is canceled, terminated or lapses.
How your insurance is affected
Auto insurance companies handle impaired driving convictions in one of two ways: They'll raise your rates, or they'll cancel your policy altogether. A DUI conviction instantly puts you in the high-risk driver category.
A single DUI will significantly affect your car insurance rates; there are no exceptions. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI, then your insurance prices will jump anywhere from 20% to 100%.
Age can also play a factor. Younger drivers convicted of a DUI will experience a more significant increase in insurance prices than older drivers will. Your credit score and other factors can also play a role in the price of car insurance after a DUI.
Your driving record is different from your criminal record. Typically, a DUI will remain on your driving record and affect your car insurance for five to 10 years. A DUI may be on your criminal record for life.
Being convicted of a DUI won't just negatively affect your auto insurance rates. It can also be quite expensive for other reasons. Apart from the insurance premium increase, here are some other estimated expenses you might incur.
- Vehicle towing and impound: $300–$2,000
- Bail: $250–$2,500
- Fines and court fees: $500–$2,500
- Attorney fees (average): $2,500–$5,000
- Licensing fees: $150
- Mandatory education and treatment: $350–$2,000
- Electronic home monitoring (extreme cases): $150–$2,250
- Ignition lock (extreme cases): $730–$2,800
The best way to keep your auto insurance rates low is to avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol or any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely.
Call your Rathbun insurance Accoutn Manager to learn about your current carrier’s standard procedure following a DUI.