In California, as in any other state, DUI (driving under the influence) convictions are taken seriously. Individuals convicted of a DUI will receive various fines and penalties, which increase in severity with repeated convictions. Safe and sober driving has many rewards, including more affordable insurance rates.
A DUI is a serious offense. It refers to a person whose ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by a certain amount of alcohol or drugs in his system. The legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit for a driver is 0.08 percent, and this is consistent in every state. If a minor is caught with any alcohol in their system, he can be convicted of a DUI under the "no tolerance" laws present in every state. Additionally, any driver who does not have the ability to operate a motor vehicle, even if his or her BAC is within the legal limit, can still be arrested. In some states, this is known as a DWAI (driving while ability impaired.)
In California, a DUI stays on a driver's record for 10 years. There are also many fines and penalties that come with a DUI conviction. A driver will lose his license immediately upon arrest, and will need to request a hearing to attempt to regain it after his conviction. Otherwise, he will undergo an automatic four-month license suspension. Fines range from $390 to $1,000, and there is a possibility of up to six months in jail. Drivers who choose to go to an alcohol or drug school may be able to reduce their penalties and avoid jail time.
One of the other requirements that a convicted driver must face is the SR-22 certificate. This is a form that is filed by a driver's insurance company to verify that the driver is keeping at least the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage.
Once a driver's insurance company files the SR-22 form, the driver needs to carry an SR-22 insurance policy. This is specifically for high-risk drivers, and the individual is required to carry the minimum state-required amounts of liability coverage, which varies by state. In California, a convicted driver is required to carry SR-22 insurance for three years.
Insurance rates for an SR-22 policy are substantially higher than a standard policy because only high-risk drivers carry this type of insurance. After the three-year period is up, the driver's insurance rates should go down. Insurance companies price their polices based on their own models of complex calculations that weigh many factors, so insurance rates may still vary widely from one company to the next. However, since the individual will have the DUI conviction on his record for 10 years, insurance companies will still place him in a high-risk category with correspondingly higher insurance rates for the next 10 years, although the impact may lessen over that span.
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