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DUI & SR-22: What this Means for You and Your Insurance Rates

There are many ways to say it: driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), and even operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). Still, it doesn’t matter how you say it or which acronym you use. Drinking and driving is not only dangerous, it can have long-term effects on your driving history and place a nice dent in your wallet.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that one driver dies every 51 minutes as a result of alcohol-impaired driving. These crashes cause more than $37 billion in damages every year with more than1.9 million visits to the hospital emergency room. These devastating statistics impact numbers of people, both directly and indirectly related to these accidents.

Though it varies by state, DUI violations are accompanied by many consequences. Along with required court appearances and possible restitutions to injured families, the intoxicated driver may also be subject to license suspension and registration revocations.

To recover those privileges, the driver may be required to:

  • Complete driver’s training courses,
  • Pay license and registration reinstatement fees, and
  • Verify proof of financial responsibility with the state.

Reinstating driving privileges after a DUI is no simple task. The fines and monetary penalties are, in most cases, substantially higher than less serious traffic violations, some reaching heights to $500 or more. Those fines and penalties are often doubled and tripled for multiple offenses.

Along with completing remedial drivers’ courses and paying a series of unfortunate penalties, the DUI driver may have to verify proof of financial responsibility. Not only does the driver have to submit proof of the current insurance policy, such as an insurance card or policy declaration page, the driver must file an SR-22, or Certificate of Financial Responsibility.

If the driver is required to file an SR-22, the state will issue the demand directly to the driver using the address filed with the state’s motor vehicle department. The driver must issue a request to their auto insurance carrier to add the SR-22 filing to the auto insurance policy. Once requested, the auto insurance carrier issues the filing to the state. The SR-22 certificate, known as the FR-44 in Virginia, includes the driver’s name and license number, as well as the policy number, coverages, vehicle identification numbers, and policy effective and expiration dates. If the policy cancels, the auto insurance carrier updates the SR-22 information to inform the state of the cancellation date. The update is issued regardless of cancellation reason, including nonpayment cancellations and cancels per policyholder’s request.

At least one-third of ticketed DUI drivers are repeat offenders.

Securing and maintaining auto insurance can be a challenge when you have a DUI violation and an SR-22 requirement. Not all insurance carriers are required to offer SR-22 certificates. In addition, DUI violations are serious offenses which increase the auto insurance carriers’ financial risk. Adding this violation to an insurance policy can quickly place the policy in a nonstandard, high-risk situation. This high-risk, along with the actual DUI violation, results in higher insurance premiums. Depending on the policy’s specifics, the DUI violation may also place the policy outside of the carrier’s underwriting guidelines which can result in the policy being cancelled or non-renewed for unacceptable driving history. If you require an SR-22 and have a DUI violation, you may have to shop around for a carrier that provides SR-22 filings at a premium that fits your insurance budget.

Bottom Line: Do not, under and circumstance, get behind the wheel if you have been drinking. Not only is there a great risk to human life, the money you will end up shelling out due to the DUI could put you in serious financial debt.