Being convicted of driving under the influence is a very serious matter. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to get affordable car insurance again. If you were convicted of DUI in California and your insurance company dropped you, don’t panic. Below, we offer advice on getting the cheapest auto insurance after a DUI and other DUI solutions in California.
The Difference between Being Charged or Found Guilty of DUI in California
There is a huge difference between being charged with a DUI and being found guilty. Charges are not part of your driving record; only convictions are. In most cases, unless the driver pleads guilty to the charge, it can take several months for your case to make it through the court system. In fact, if you plead not guilty and fight the charge, it could take from six months to a year before your case is resolved, and even then, your insurance may not be affected until your renewal.
Keep in mind that a DUI – whether a charge or a conviction – is expensive on many fronts. Even if at the moment you’re only charged with DUI, chances are good that you’ve already had your vehicle towed and then paid to retrieve it from the impound lot. You may have spent a night (or more) in jail. Some of your relationships may have been damaged by this reckless behavior. If you drive for a living, the mere fact of being charged with DUI may have a resounding effect on your career.
And if someone was hurt or killed in an accident you caused while under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, that comes with a whole host of other issues, including living with the guilt.
Finding Affordable Car Insurance after a DUI Conviction in California
After your case has been heard and you are convicted of DUI, your current insurance company may not renew your policy. If they do renew your policy, they will do so as a high-risk car insurance policy. The rates may be so high that you cannot afford insurance through the same company you had before your DUI conviction.
At this point, you will need to shop around for your DUI auto insurance in California. Also note that you will be required to file an SR-22 form with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. An SR-22 shows the state that you are carrying at least the minimum amount of state-required liability car insurance.
Your insurance company must file this form for three years following the date of the conviction. There is a small charge (usually around $25 for your insurance company to file your SR-22 on your behalf).
Keep in mind that insurance companies are required by law to report any changes in insurance policies to the state in real time. Therefore, if you let your insurance lapse at any time during your three-year SR-22 period, the state will know and you’ll most likely be required to reset the clock.
If you do not have a car anymore, you will still be required to get insurance and file an SR-22 certificate. You can apply for non-owner SR-22 car insurance, if this is the case.
How to Save Money on Auto Insurance After a DUI in California
When you have an idea of how much your insurance will cost, you can start looking for ways to possible save some money through car insurance discounts and other means.
Other types of car insurance coverages, such as medical payments or uninsured motorist coverage, are not required in California so you may decide against them – at least for now. Of these, uninsured motorist coverage is the most important since it will pay for your injuries if you are hit and injured by another driver who does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance. Remember that approximately one in six drivers does not carry auto insurance (this is against the law) and many that do carry insurance only carry the state minimum coverage. In 2019, 16.6 percent of drivers were uninsured in California.
Another route you can explore is car insurance discounts. You may be required to take a defensive driving course as part of your DUI conviction, so most companies will not give a discount for that in the case of DUI. However, there are many more that you may be eligible for, including:
- Former or current military
- Anti-theft device or other car safety features
- Good student if you are in school
- Bundling (multi-policy)
Find Affordable DUI Insurance in California Today
Having a DUI conviction is expensive, but not that unusual. Unless your event involved a serious accident or death, the most severe consequences are likely to be financial. If this happens to you in California, then give Freeway Insurance a call at 800-777-5620 to get some relief from the sticker shock that you’ll be facing when the conviction appears on your driving record. You can also request a free auto insurance quote online or visit us at one of our California offices.