When I first meet clients accused of driving while intoxicated, they frequently ask about the probability of being punished. Naturally, people want to know if they’re at risk of jail time or hefty fines. However, what people commonly overlook is one of the most long lasting consequences of a DWI conviction: its impact on auto insurance. Even when fines, jail time, and other penalties are completed, one’s auto insurance is affected for years after a DWI conviction.
HOW A DWI CONVICTION AFFECTS YOUR INSURANCE
There are two main ways a DWI conviction affects auto insurance. The first way is when the insurance company cancels the driver’s insurance policy. New York’s state law allows insurance companies to cancel a policyholder’s insurance policy in “mid-term,” meaning within sixty days after the start of the policy, if the policyholder’s license is suspended. Being charged with and convicted of a DWI in New York all but guarantees license suspension for some period of time. So, practically speaking, a DWI charge or conviction in New York can mean cancellation of one’s insurance policy as long as it is done within the sixty-day period.
A second way a DWI conviction affects auto insurance is by raising one’s rates, commonly known as a surcharge. When a driver with a DWI conviction tries to become reinsured, the insurance company may use their DWI as a reason to raise insurance rates. A key question is: “for how long will this last?” A DWI conviction stays on a driver’s motor vehicle record for ten years. Different insurance companies look back different amounts of years on someone’s record. Usually, insurers look back either three, five, or seven years.
Some sources estimate that rates increase by up to seventy-six percent after a DWI conviction. Other sources, like The Zebra, an insurance information website, estimate that in New York, rates increase by an average of fifty-seven percent, or nine hundred and sixty-six dollars, based on the average annual auto insurance rates for those with, and without, a DWI.
HOW NEW YORK’S STATE LAW PROTECTS ITS DRIVERS
Fortunately, New York’s state law protects convicted DWI drivers from being taken advantage of when they try to become reinsured. For example, in New York, an insurance company cannot surcharge a policy more than three times what the policy usually charges. So, if the policy usually charges five hundred dollars for the most expensive vehicle to insure, the premium cannot be surcharged to more than one thousand five hundred dollars, which is three times the usual cost. The law also limits these surcharges to the premiums for:
- No-fault coverage
- Collision coverage
- Liability insurance
The fact that a conviction can have enormous impacts on insurance rates only raises the stakes of a DWI charge. At Rosenblum Law, our defense attorneys have extensive experience helping drivers avoid or minimize the consequences of a DWI conviction. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI offense, contact Rosenblum Law today for a free, no obligation consultation.