Drinking, Driving and Car Insurance
After a long hard day at work, many people like to unwind with a nice cold beer or a big glass of wine. Maybe the tinkle of ice cubes in a glass signals the release of certain endorphins. Whatever it is about alcohol, Americans and citizens of every other country like to indulge every once in a while and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you do it safely. Drinking and driving is a huge mistake and can have very serious consequences. Even if you’ve only had two beers and feel ‘completely fine’ you still run the risk of getting into an accident and hurting someone or even potentially killing them. You can also be seriously injured or die as well and that’s just not a risk worth taking. Luckily, drinking and driving doesn’t always end up in death and destruction but it can have other serious consequences. Even if you don’t hurt anyone, you can get pulled over by the police and receive either DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWI (driving while intoxicated) depending on where you live. Both charges are very expensive and have long lasting effects on your auto insurance so the next time you’ve been drinking and reach for your keys, think again.
Cost: Receiving a DUI charge is very expensive in multiple ways. One of the first things that will happen is your license will either be suspended or revoked. The DMV is automatically notified when you’re charged with your DUI and will then communicate with your insurance company. You will also face some expensive fines as well as legal fees if you hire a lawyer. Getting your license reinstated will cost you money and you can be sure that your insurance premiums are going to go up. In the end, a $10.00 bar tab can end up costing you thousands of dollars.
Jail Time: Another expensive consequence of receiving a DUI is significant jail time. Many states have begun to crack down on those who drink and drive regardless of whether it’s a first, second, or third offense. Even first time offenders can be expected to spend up to 30 days in jail depending on the state in which you reside. This means that you have to take time off of work and daily responsibilities to spend time in jail. No one wants to have that conversation with your boss. While it may not be required to reveal your charge to your workplace, if you drive for a living, a DUI can possibly cause you to lose your job.
Once you’ve served your jail time and paid your legal fees, the implications of a DUI don’t stop there. Unfortunately, you will have a constant reminder of your mistake for the next several years if you plan to get back on the road. Just this time, make sure your sober 24/7.
Insurance Price: If your insurance company doesn’t drop you altogether, it’s possible your premiums can rise over 100% of the former price you paid. Insurance is a risk based business and driving while drunk is not only illegal, it’s one of the riskiest things you can do in the eyes of an insurer and this isn’t going to gain you any rewards. Some are not so lucky to keep their insurance though, even if it means high prices.
Loss of Insurance: It’s possible that your insurance company could completely drop you because of your DUI and if you were able to squeak out of court with a suspended license, you still are required by law to have auto insurance. With the charge, you may find the search is more difficult because you are place in a pool of high risk drivers.
Driving Record: Even if your DUI happened two years ago, the time it takes for a charge to fall off your record will vary by state. In some states, it may never come off! An insurance company is going to take into consideration the time period that has passed between the present and your charge time but don’t expect to get any discounts because of your driving record.
SR-22 Insurance: If you are charged with a DUI, you may be required to have SR-22 insurance, which is a ‘statement of financial responsibility’ that proves you have the legal amount of insurance. Your insurance company will generally file this form for you and you will need to continue to file this for however long your state prescribes. Even after your SR-22 time limits are completed, your insurance rates may still be high.
There’s a slim chance that your insurance company could never find out about your DUI charge. That might help you avoid the cost of high insurance for a year or two but the government has many systems of checks and balances and there’s a higher chance that your charge will eventually be discovered. Your insurance company has the right, within a certain time period, to still raise your rates so it’s best not to prolong the agony any longer than necessary. On the other hand, if you were originally charged with a DUI but then it was reduced and you notice that you’re still getting DUI insurance rates, contact the insurer immediately. As long as it can be verified with the DMV that your charge was reduced, your insurance rates will be as well.
When it comes down to it, drinking and driving isn’t worth the cost and effort on your part, not to mention the danger that you assume. Alcohol is prevalent in many American’s lives but it can be a destructive force when abused. It decreases motor skills and reaction times while increasing the imbiber’s confidence; a deadly combination behind the wheel. If you want to go out for a night on the town, take a taxi. It will be much cheaper and you’ll arrive home without any legal problems.