How a drunk driving charge impacts your car insurance rates

October 15, 2014

We all know that drunk driving is a bad idea—and insurance companies agree. Insurance costs and drunk driving are related: drive drunk and get caught, and you'll pay more for insurance. What happens to your car insurance when you’re convicted of drunk driving? It's one of the many questions you should be asking yourself, including:

How a drunk driving charge impacts your car insurance rates

Will I lose my car insurance?

Not exactly. If you’re convicted of drunk driving in Canada, what you can count on losing, first of all, is your driver’s license. Suspension lengths vary, but every province requires a minimum 30-day driver’s license suspension for your first driving under the influence (DUI) charge. The suspension time will increase with each offence.

After you get your driver’s license back, you will probably not have any trouble finding car insurance, but what you are going to notice is that the cost of car insurance premiums following a drunk driving charge have risen dramatically for you.

If you have been charged with driving drunk multiple times, you may find that you aren’t able to get any insurance at all or, if you can find a provider, that your benefits are severely restricted.

Why is car insurance after a DUI so expensive?

If you’ve driven drunk once, you’re now seen as someone who is likely to do it again. This is a significant liability for an insurance company. To offset the cost from possible future accidents while under the influence, insurance companies charge significantly more for premiums.

Insurance companies pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims for damage caused by drunk drivers, so it's no surprise they charge drunk drivers more for it.

How long will I have to pay high insurance premiums?

A DUI charge stays on your public record, and it will impact your car insurance costs for 10 years. Even if you switch car insurance providers, that offence will show up on your abstract. As such, your car insurance is going to be priced accordingly.

After 10 years have passed, the DUI won’t be removed from your record, but you will again qualify for traditional car insurance rates and possibly other discounts.

Take precautions

The good news is that whether or not you drive drunk is completely in your control. When you go out with friends, a quick conversation about who is going to drive home is all you need to ensure that a great evening doesn’t go wrong. High insurance rates are not the only consequence of driving drunk. Never get behind the wheel if you've had too much to drink.

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