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How DUI charges can affect insurance rates

California residents may be interested to hear about how a DUI charge can lead to an increase in insurance rates. Many insurance companies hike up rates even after first DUI charges because of the notion that the drivers have driven drunk before the time of the DUIs. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average, first-time offenders have a blood alcohol content of around .16 percent compared to .18 percent for people who have faced DUI arrests in the past. In every state, a BAC of over .08 percent indicates intoxication and increases the risk of an accident.

In a comparison of 20 cities, NerdWallet found that insurance premiums go up anywhere from around 30 percent to approximately 149 percent after DUI charges. The city the driver lives in affects the increase. Sometimes instead of raising premiums, insurance companies will choose not to renew customers' policies after they are brought up on DUI charges.

The average increase for insurance premiums after DUI charges is around $857.53 a year. In New York, drivers may see their premiums go up around $1,837. The city review found that large cities such as San Francisco and New York tend to have the largest increases while smaller cities such as St. Paul and Cincinnati have the lowest increase in premiums.

When California residents charged with misdemeanor DUIs want to have their license suspensions lifted, they need to submit SR-22 forms to prove that they have auto insurance. An experienced criminal law attorney might be able to help clients to go through the necessary legal procedures to have their licenses reinstated after a DUI conviction. Sometimes attorneys can try to make plea bargains with judges to keep DUIs from appearing on their clients' driving records, which in turn can keep the drivers' insurance premiums down.

Source: Nerd Wallet, "How a DUI Affects Your Auto Insurance Quote," Aubrey Cohen, March 30, 2015

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