An auto insurance expert answers a reader's question about the length of time a driver under the influence of intoxicants conviction will lock her and her husband out of cheap auto insurance rates.
We had cheap insurance until my husband got a DUI. How long it this going to affect our rates?
Trudy H., Tulsa, OK
I won't sugarcoat it; your rates are going to go up. How long they stay up depends on where you live, but most states allow insurers to score DUI convictions for three to five years, some longer.
Your insurance company may not find out about your husband's conviction right away. Most will review driving records annually, but not always. But even if they miss it on the review, there is still a way it will be brought to their attention.
Virtually every state will suspend your license for at least 30 days, and up to one year, for your first DUI conviction. In order to get your license reinstated, your insurance company will have to file an SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility form with the DMV. As soon as you ask for it, your company will know about the DUI.
Not all auto insurance companies will file an SR-22 form. If yours won't, you will have to find another carrier that will. You will probably have to find an insurance carrier in the secondary, high-risk market because your husband will have a DUI conviction, a license suspension, and possibly a policy cancellation or non-renewal on his record.
To determine exactly how long your husband's poor judgment will make cheap auto insurance impossible, ask your DMV how long you will have to file the SR-22 form, and how long the DUI can be used in rating auto insurance. Mark your calendar, and on that day start shopping for auto insurance quotes. With a clean record and no SR-22 filing, you should be able to move back to a primary market carrier and save a considerable amount of money.
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