How Long Does a DWI Affect Insurance?

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Driving While Intoxicated, or DWI, is a serious offense and you will pay financial penalties for this crime for many years afterward. This offense is alternately labeled DUI, OWI or OUI in some states, but the underlying crime is the same. The specifics of how long and how severely this conviction will affect your auto insurance situation varies by state, but expect at least three to 10 years of increased premiums.

Your Driving Record

Though there is not always a direct correlation between how long a moving violation stays on your driving record and how long it affects your insurance premium, it is important to know that DWIs and related charges stay on your record for a long time. Expect this conviction to appear for a minimum of three years. Alaska and New Jersey each record this offense permanently.

Premium Increases at Renewal

Your insurer only looks at your driving record once in a while. All insurers check your record when you apply for a new policy, but once the policy is in force, they generally only check before policy renewals. Generally, the earliest you should expect a premium increase is the renewal date following your conviction date. In some rare cases, the insurer may never discover the offense, and your premiums will remain unaffected.

Increased Premiums

When the insurer discovers the DWI, it may raise your premiums by a substantial amount or choose not to renew your policy at all. DWI is a serious moving violation, and insurers consider you a high-risk driver when you have this conviction. Though the specific amount of time your premiums will be surcharged depends on your state's laws and your insurer's policies, expect a minimum of three years of increased rates.

Discounts

Even after the DWI surcharge disappears from your insurance premiums, your rate may still be higher than it was before the conviction. This is because some states have discounts for drivers who meet certain safety criteria, and generally DWI convictions disqualify you from those discounts. In California, for example, a DWI conviction makes you ineligible for the discount for a full ten years. Though the surcharge may disappear after only three years, you still lose some discounts for the remainder of the decade.

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