A DUI conviction is serious, and will likely affect your life in multiple ways. Your conviction may come with both court fines and other mandatory fees. You may have out of pocket costs for alternative transportation during your mandatory license suspension.
Also, one of the most significant ways a DUI can affect you is by impacting your car insurance through increased premiums and even cancellation of coverage. As insurance is required for all Nevada drivers, if you are facing a Las Vegas DUI, it’s important to understand the ways a conviction can affect your ability to maintain valid car insurance. Here’s what you need to know about how a DUI conviction can affect your car insurance.
An Overview of Likely Insurance Penalties Following a DUI
If you get a DUI conviction, your insurance rates will increase. Your premiums may rise anywhere between 30 and 200 percent depending on other factors and the exact circumstances of your case.
That means if you’re used to paying $150 each month for car insurance, you might find yourself spending between $200 and $300 instead. Additionally, your insurance company has the option to drop your coverage entirely. You’ll also have to file form SR-22 with the State of Nevada for three years to prove that you have insurance.
Will My Insurance Drop Me? What Can I Do If That Happens?
An insurance company can’t cancel a policy during the period it’s in force except under certain circumstances. In many cases, that means you can finish out your current insurance policy despite your DUI.
After that, insurance companies have the option to drop your coverage. Some insurance policies might do that, while others may still cover you but raise your rates. If you’re unable to find insurance elsewhere, you can get insurance through Nevada’s high-risk insurance pool. The pool exists so that people who can’t find insurance elsewhere can still get coverage and drive legally.
When you get a DUI, you have to file form SR-22 with the State of Nevada each year for three years. This is a form that proves you have car insurance. The form isn’t the car insurance itself; instead, it’s proof that you have the insurance. Of course, to fill out the form, you have to be able to show that you have the required amounts of coverage.
Defending Against a DUI and Insurance Changes
The penalties for a DUI only apply if you’re convicted of DUI. If the state dismisses the charges or you’re found not guilty, there’s no DUI conviction for the insurance company to find. That means, one of the ways to fight back against increased insurance rates because of a DUI is to defend against the charges aggressively.
You can work with an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney to explore the options available to you to determine what viable defenses may help you win a dismissal of the charges or a not guilty verdict.
Pursuing a Plea
Another option is to pursue a plea agreement. If the district attorney agrees to reduce the charges to a lesser offense such as reckless driving, you face the consequences of a reckless driving conviction and not the DUI conviction.
Although the insurance company probably isn’t going to be thrilled about a reckless driving conviction, it’s not a DUI conviction. A reduction in charges might be the best option to lessen the insurance fall out of a DUI.
Mandatory License Suspension
If you’re convicted of DUI, you receive a mandatory driver’s license suspension. This suspension occurs whether or not you’re able to maintain car insurance. A first DUI comes with a license suspension of three months. A second suspension results in a one-year suspension and a third DUI results in a three-year suspension. There are also other reasons that you may face a license suspension for a different period of time.
You can work with an attorney to determine if you have options to reduce or prevent the suspension. You have a very short time limit of only seven days to put in your request for a hearing regarding your license. It’s important to get your hearing request in and then take time to determine your next steps. The slightest delay can cause you to lose your chance to contest the license suspension.
When you’re sorting out your insurance following a DUI, it’s important to know how much coverage you need to have. In Nevada, you must have at least $15,000 for bodily injury or the death of one person. You must have $30,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death of more than one person. You must have at least $10,000 in coverage for property damages. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI case, you may need to submit a Form SR-22 to demonstrate that you maintain this insurance coverage.
DUI and License Points
When you’re working with your attorney to determine how to handle your case, you should consider license points and mandatory suspensions. In Nevada, if you get 12 points on your license in a 12 month period, your license is automatically suspended for six months.
A reckless driving conviction alone comes with eight points. A DUI conviction has an automatic license suspension but no license points. In many cases, taking a reckless driving plea if it’s available is a good option. However, your attorney can discuss your specific circumstance to determine the best course of action.
Nevada law has a way for people to hide a DUI conviction from their criminal record. It doesn’t completely erase the fact that the conviction happened, but it removes the record from public view.
You may be able to seal a misdemeanor DUI conviction from public view if it’s been more than seven years since the conviction. An experienced attorney can help you determine your eligibility and help ensure that your request for record sealing succeeds on the first try.
Creating a plan
When you’re facing a DUI charge, your Las Vegas DUI attorney does more than just help you take your case to trial or negotiate a plea. Instead, they help you look at the entire situation in order to best minimize the potential consequences.
Any action plan for a DUI charge should include looking at how the charges might impact your insurance coverage and insurance rates. Because strict time limitations apply to assert your rights, it’s essential to contact a skilled DUI lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your case.