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How a DWI affects auto insurance rates

If you’ve been arrested for DWI you’re suddenly faced with a great deal of uncertainty regarding your future. As you weight the financial impact of your arrest, don’t overlook how your possible conviction could affect your auto insurance rates.

A DWI charge will lead to a number of immediate expenses including:

  • making bond
  • hiring an attorney and,
  • meeting some conditions of bond such as alcohol monitoring devices.

While the costs vary depending on each individual circumstance, a final DWI conviction could result in an increase of as much as two to three times the amount you are currently paying for auto insurance. This is in addition to all the other expenses you’re facing mounting an effective defense.

Why do auto insurance rates increase after a DWI conviction?

The main reason for an increase in rates is risk. Once your DWI conviction is finalized, you’ll be considered a higher risk for auto insurance purposes resulting in an increased cost.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that DWI related crashes caused over 10,000 deaths and over $44 billion in damages in 2016. Insurance carriers will offset that risk by charging a higher premium for those classified as high risk.

Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificates?

In addition to increasing your actual auto insurance rates, you’ll also be required to get a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate or an SR-22. This certificate provides proof that you have an insurance policy that covers the minimum liability requirements for that state.

Here in Texas, the minimum liability requirements for auto insurance are:

  • $30,000 to cover bodily injury or death of one person in a car crash
  • $60,000 to cover bodily injuries or deaths of two or more people in a motor vehicle accident and
  • $25,000 to cover damages incurred to any property from an auto accident.

You will need an SR-22 for a minimum of two years beginning on your conviction date. This additional cost is typically assessed in a lump sum payment, not a monthly premium. SR-22 insurance must be paid typically in six-month increments.

Expect your auto insurance rates to increase dramatically as a result of a DWI conviction.

Your auto insurance rates increase will vary depending upon your situation. In some cases, you may be dropped from your insurance carrier because of your DWI conviction. In some states, a DWI conviction can increase rates by over 400% and about 100% in Texas.

When assessing rates, most insurance companies will look back 3-5 years at your driving record, so a DWI can continue to affect your rates long after your conviction. However, if you keep a clear record, your auto insurance premiums will eventually decrease.

How to avoid or reduce the cost of escalating auto insurance premiums.

Obviously, the best way to reduce the financial impact of a DWI arrest is to avoid being convicted. Many of the costs associated with your arrest and charge are unavoidable. But if your case is resolved properly, you can drastically affect the long-term consequences of your arrest.

If you enroll in a program such as pre-trial diversion, you won’t have to plead guilty and your license won’t be suspended, so it won’t likely affect your insurability.  If your case is dismissed or reduced to a different charge that does not include license suspension, you could reduce or eliminate the need for SR-22 insurance which leads to higher monthly auto insurance rates.

How a DWI Specialist can help

Having an attorney who understands DWI law and its consequences can help you navigate through this legal quagmire. Look for a legal team to help you understand your options and the ancillary consequences that will allow you to make smarter decisions.