Did you know that impaired driving causes more than 1.35 million deaths around the world each year?
At the extreme end, driving while under the influence can cost you your life or the life of someone else – but it can also cost you when it comes to your car insurance.
Here are the ways a DUI charge can affect your car insurance:
What Is a DUI?
DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and refers to any form of impaired driving in which the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In some provinces, this can even include prescribed or over-the-counter medications that impair your ability to drive safely.
And even though cannabis is now legal in Canada, it is still considered a substance that can impair driving.
Suppose you are caught driving under the influence.
In that case, you will face a conviction in court and additional consequences depending on your age, license type, the amount of alcohol/drugs in your system, and how many convictions you have.
One guaranteed penalty you will face is an increase or cancellation of your insurance policy.
Let’s look at how a DUI charge can affect your car insurance:
Your Insurance Provider Will Likely Cancel Your Policy
Once your insurer finds out that you have a DUI on your record, they have the right to cancel your policy.
Some will allow you to keep your coverage, but they will significantly raise your rate.
However, most insurance companies will decline to provide you with coverage.
DUI convictions don’t stay on your record forever (the length depends on where you live), so you can obtain car insurance at some point in the future.
It’ll Be Difficult to Find New Insurance Coverage
Not many insurance companies are willing to take on a high-risk driver with a DUI on their record.
However, you may be able to find a provider that specializes in insuring high-risk drivers – just expect to pay extremely higher rates.
Your Insurance Premiums Will Increase Significantly
When you are convicted of a DUI, your insurance premiums will increase, whether or not you stay with the same provider or look for a new one.
And it doesn’t matter if your DUI resulted in an accident or not – the insurance company will raise your rates because you are high risk.
Overall, you can expect your insurance to cost at least 3 to 5 times more than the average cost of car insurance following a DUI conviction.
Your Insurance Premiums May Go Down in the Future
It is possible that your insurance company may lower your premiums in the future if you maintain a clean driving record.
Insurance companies base their premiums on risk. The longer you drive without any issues (no tickets, no accidents, no claims, etc.), your risk decreases, and so can your rates.
However, with a DUI on your record, this could take several years.
You Can Lower Your Rates In the Meantime
There are ways you can lower your insurance rates following a DUI, although you will probably not return to your previous rates for a few years:
- Ask for bundle discounts by adding in your homeowners policy.
- Keep your driving record clean (as mentioned above).
- Shop around with multiple insurance providers and compare car insurance quotes.
If You Don’t Inform Your Insurance Provider, Your Driving Record Will Be Negatively Affected
You are obligated to inform your insurer if you have been convicted of a DUI.
When a DUI doesn’t result in an accident, such as when you’re pulled over by an officer, the insurance company may not be notified.
However, they may find out when they order a report of your driving record when it’s time to renew your policy.
If you don’t inform your insurance provider about your DUI, and they learn about your conviction, they can refuse to provide you with coverage and cancel your policy due to misrepresentation or non-disclosure (i.e., lying).
Canceling your policy for these reasons will be noted on your driving record, and the next time you apply for car insurance, other insurers will be able to see this.
How Can I Avoid a DUI Charge?
If you are facing a DUI conviction, avoiding a DUI charge depends on the laws in your area as well as the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
In some cases, drivers have challenged the accuracy of the breathalizer (the machine that determines your blood alcohol level) and identified police errors or legal technicalities.
Avoiding a DUI charge does not in any way condone driving under the influence, but any conviction in court needs to be addressed by a lawyer to ensure that the process of law was followed and the consequences fair.
A reputable DUI lawyer can help you prepare your case and determine how best to approach the situation in court.