If you have never been involved in a drunk driving accident, chances are you know someone who has. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people around the United States die in motor vehicle collisions involving alcohol impairment every single day. An additional 800 people sustain injuries daily in such wrecks.
Because the potential consequences of drinking and driving can be catastrophic, every state imposes severe penalties on those who are convicted of doing so. The exact sentences vary from state to state and depend on a variety of factors, but potential criminal and administrative penalties for a DUI conviction typically include some combination of:
- Jail time;
- Fines and fees;
- Community service;
- The installation, use, and maintenance of an ignition interlock device;
- Substance abuse counseling; and
- A license suspension.
If these penalties don’t sound harsh enough, there are long-term repercussions of having a DUI conviction on your record, as well. For example, the DUI itself could prohibit you from procuring a commercial driver’s license, while serving jail time could affect employability in general.
You can also expect a DUI to affect your auto insurance rates for years to come. Insurance providers charge high-risk motorists significantly more for liability coverage, and people with a history of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol fall into that category.
The Impact of an SR-22 Form
Because the cost of coverage can be much higher following a conviction, people who have a DUI may consider foregoing auto insurance altogether. In an attempt to reduce the number of motorists who are uninsured for this very reason, most states require high-risk drivers to file an SR-22 with their department of motor vehicles upon reinstating their license.
An SR-22 is a document that confirms someone has purchased the mandatory liability coverage. Your insurance provider will prepare this certificate and then file it with the state on your behalf.
The SR stands for “safety responsibility,” and although the specifics vary from state to state, motorists must typically file one annually for several years following certain violations. You might need to obtain an SR-22 certificate if:
- You receive a conviction for a serious moving violation;
- You are caught driving without a license or adequate insurance coverage;
- You cause a collision while uninsured;
- You commit multiple traffic offenses in a fairly short period of time and accumulate too many points against your license as a result; or
- Your license was revoked or suspended for some other reason.
Because SR-22 forms only apply to high-risk motorists, they are a kind of red flag for insurance providers. Those who must request them can expect to pay considerably more for coverage.
Fortunately, the SR-22 requirement is only temporary, so as long as you maintain a clean driving record otherwise, you can expect insurance rates to decrease once you no longer need to file the certificate. Most states require applicable motorists to file SR-22 forms for three years.
Since a DUI remains on your record for seven to 10 years, though, your premiums may not drop to what they were prior to the conviction. More than three years after a conviction, coverage will likely be more affordable than it was when you needed an SR-22 certificate; however, as long as insurance providers can see a serious moving violation on your record, they will categorize you as a high-risk motorist.
Of course, drivers with a DUI can save on insurance if they know where to look and keep a few simple strategies in mind. You can find reasonable premiums by:
- Purchasing a vehicle with a high safety rating;
- Completing a defensive driving course;
- Taking advantage of any applicable discounts your provider offers;
- Bundling insurance policies, like homeowners insurance and life insurance;
- Limiting your daily mileage; and
- Shopping around to compare insurance quotes.