A DWI conviction carries many penalties, including license suspension, fines, and possibly time behind bars. But there’s another penalty few people talk enough about: insurance premiums.
Technically, higher insurance rates are not a criminal penalty associated with a felony crime—but they sure feel like it. Drivers who were accustomed to paying $100 a month will suddenly see their rates skyrocket and eat up a bigger chunk of their paycheck. When deciding whether to fight a DWI charge, don’t forget about how any conviction will make driving that much more expensive.
Your Premiums Can Blow Up
How much? The precise number will vary by many factors, such as your current premiums and the details of your driving history. However, according to carinsurance.com, a single DWI conviction can increase premiums 30-200% a month.
That’s right—it’s possible you might end up paying double for car insurance after a single DWI conviction. For some drivers, the expense will simply be too high and there might be no room in their monthly budget to cover these costs.
Your Insurer Can Cancel You
This is also another consequence of a DWI conviction: you might wake up to find your insurer has cut the cord and you need to go searching for a new insurer. Good luck! Remember, driving while uninsured is against the law. Now that you have a DWI conviction to your name, you want to avoid any more infractions, so don’t head out until you get new coverage.
Don’t Think about Letting Your Coverage Lapse
After a DWI conviction, you’ll need to obtain an insurance rider called SR-22. This isn’t a specific type of insurance. Instead, it’s a certification process that the insurer must go through to tell the state that you have purchased an acceptable level of insurance as a high-risk driver. You will need this high-level of coverage for two years.
What’s more, the insurer will quickly notify the state if you cancel your coverage or let the policy lapse. The state will then probably suspend your license until you start making payments.
How to Reduce the Costs of Insurance
Once convicted, a driver has an uphill climb getting their premiums under control. Essentially, there is only one way to do it: maintain a clean driving record. This means no more DWI arrests or even any moving citations. If you manage to avoid any citations or arrests, your premiums will slowly slide back down to a comfortable level in a few years.
There is another option: fight the DWI charge. You have nothing to lose. Why immediately plead guilty when you can force the prosecutor to come forward with convincing evidence that you were driving while intoxicated? You might lose your case and watch your premiums increase—but that would happen with a conviction anyway.
Contact a Houston DWI Attorney Today
Houston criminal defense lawyer Tad Nelson is committed to his client’s well-being, and this includes weathering all the financial penalties that come with a DWI. A member of our team will meet with you to review your case and represent you in court and at an administrative suspension hearing. Call the firm today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Houston, League City and Galveston.