How Long Do DUIs Affect Auto Insurance Rates?

If you're a frugal person, then keeping your expenses as low as possible is likely a priority in your life. However, your insurance premiums can go up as much as 94.13 percent the first year after a DUI conviction. Even worse, your rates will typically remain elevated for as long as the conviction is on your driving record, which means you may be paying high premiums for a minimum of 5 years, maybe more depending on where you live. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can avoid high insurance rates after a DUI.

Opt for a Diversion Program

You can dodge the hit to your auto insurance premiums if you keep the DUI from going on your driving record. Most of the time, your record won't be updated until after you have been convicted of the crime. Work with your criminal defense attorney to get the case dismissed.

If that's not possible, see if you can get into a diversion program. These programs usually require you to undergo drug and alcohol counseling, do community service, and/or pay a fine, among other conditions. However, upon successful completion of the program, the prosecutor will often drop the charges against you.

Typically diversion programs are only available to first-time offenders, and you are typically required to plead guilty to the charges. If you don't complete the program, the prosecutor will continue with the case and that guilty plea may be used to convict you. Still, this is an excellent way to avoid the bigger consequences associated with a DUI conviction and keep your insurance rates low.

It's important to note that the DMV may take immediate administrative actions that can show up on your record regardless of whether you're convicted of a DUI. For instance, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your license may be suspended for a period of time. This may also have a negative effect on your auto insurance rates.

Secure Alternative Auto Insurance

If it's too late and you've already been convicted of DUI, you may be able to avoid high premiums by opting for alternative forms of auto insurance. You might be surprised to learn you don't actually have to get coverage from an insurance provider. If you can prove to the state you have the financial resources available to pay for the damages and losses that may result from an auto accident you cause, then you can go insurance free.

There are a couple of ways you can provide this proof. One way is to put down a cash deposit with the Department of Motor Vehicles. In return, the DMV will issue you a certificate of financial responsibility that can be used in lieu of an insurance card. The minimum deposit amount varies with each state but can be anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000. You can end this type of coverage at any time, but you'll need to have some type of insurance before you can legally drive.

Another form of alternative insurance is a surety bond. This is a financial contract issued by a licensed surety bond company. This is essentially just another type of deposit, except you're giving the cash to a bond company instead of the DMV. The bond amount typically must be equal to the minimum cash required by your state for a cash deposit.

Either of these options will help you avoid high monthly insurance premiums. At the same time, you won't have use of the cash for the entire time you use this method of alternative insurance.

At the end of the day, it's better for your wallet and life to avoid DUI convictions altogether. For assistance with defending yourself against a DUI charge, contact a criminal defense attorney or a firm such as Hart Law Offices, PC.