DUIs and DWIs are taken very seriously in Texas. Deciding to operate a vehicle under the influence or intoxicated is a bad move for many reasons- one of which is the long-term financial impact it can have. Increased insurance costs are just one of the ways a person charged with drunk driving can suffer financially. Unfortunately, it can apply for quite a while.
The Short Answer
Any charge for driving drunk or otherwise intoxicated can affect a person’s insurance for at least two years, but it can last much longer. A criminal conviction for driving drunk in Texas is permanent, meaning the possibility of life-long enhanced insurance premiums.
Because insurance companies judge policies and payments on several factors, the payments can reduce over time- even with a charge on a criminal record- so it is difficult to say exactly how long the consequences may last. In most cases, 10 years is the longest an insurance company looks back at a driver’s history.
DUIs VS DWIs: What Is the Difference?
Texas law defines a DUI as Driving Under the Influence. This is a Class C misdemeanor that applies only to minors under 21 years old. A DWI is Driving While Intoxicated. It is either a Class B or Class A misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.
Both charges require a license suspension and can stay with a person for a very long time. Insurance premiums for anyone with a DUI or DWI on their record can increase significantly and stay that way for years to come.
How Do DUI/DWI Charges Affect Insurance?
Anyone who has one of these charges faces more expensive insurance costs. There is also the risk that an insurance company may cancel a policy and refuse to provide coverage any longer. In severe cases, a driver can be left with no insurance options, leaving them unable to drive legally in the state of Texas or anywhere else in the country.
If cover is possible, the likelihood is that premiums will increase significantly. In Texas, it is not unheard of for an insurance company to hike prices by as much as 72% for someone with a DUI or DWI conviction. Even as a first-time offender, the cost increase can be extreme.
SR-22: What Is It and How Long Is It Necessary After a DUI or DWI?
SR-22s are mandatory filing required by the state of Texas after a person is charged with driving under the influence or while intoxicated. It essentially enforces the need for liability insurance with enhanced requirements for someone who has regained their license after a suspension. It may also be used as an alternative in low-class offenses to avoid license suspension, to begin with.
The length of time an SR-22 is required to remain active and valid in Texas is at least two years (although most DUI or DWI charges in Texas demand a three-year period)- during which time the driver is considered a high-risk individual. Anyone with this classification cannot benefit from any reduced-cost insurance policies for good driving or no recorded incidents, meaning they face full-price policies and perhaps some additional charges.
A judge can decide that an SR-22 must stay active after the two-year period if they feel it necessary, especially if it is the second DUI a person has received.
Is There Any Way to Reduce the Impact a DUI or DWI Has on Insurance Costs?
Unfortunately, getting a DUI or DWI expunged is almost impossible in Texas. The only way to have one removed from a criminal record is through a successful appeal to overturn the charge. It may also be possible to have an arrest for drunk driving expunged if no formal charges are pressed.
Drivers with DUI/DWI records must be prepared for increased costs for at least two years. In the long-term, they can take steps including buying low-risk cars, undergoing training courses, and maintaining a clean record for the rest of their driving careers.
How Can Sparks Law Firm Help?
Anyone charged with a DUI or DWI in Texas has the right to expert legal representation from the best DUI attorney in Fort Worth that knows and understands the laws. The best way to avoid long-term insurance price hikes is to have a charge-free record- so it is best to get top-quality assistance as early as possible.
At Sparks Law Firm, the team has years of experience in DUI defense and appeals and can provide guidance on the best course of action in every circumstance.