There are a number of consequences that come with a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Virginia. A DUI charge can result in possible jail time and criminal fines. By statute, the Virginia DMV will suspend a driver's license and require a number of steps before a driver can get his or her license back. On top of everything else, drivers will likely see an increase in car insurance rates for years.
Avoiding a DUI conviction can save drivers a lot of time and money. If you are facing a DUI in Virginia, contact an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Will my insurance rates increase after a DUI in Virginia?
Like traffic accidents and serious traffic violations, car insurance companies see a drunk driving conviction as a high risk and will generally raise a driver's insurance rates, no longer provide coverage, or fail to renew the driver's coverage. In some cases, the driver's regular insurance provider will no longer cover someone after a DUI and the driver will have to find new insurance coverage.
Drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated under Virginia Code § 18.2-266 require proof of financial responsibility before their driving privileges can be restored. This requires higher coverage limits than other drivers, and insurance companies who provide this type of policy charge a premium that may 50% to 100% higher than the driver's prior insurance rates.
Getting Car Insurance Coverage After a DUI
If the car insurance company drops you after a DUI, you will likely need to find a new insurance provider in order to get your license reinstated. Some of the major insurance providers will not offer insurance coverage after a DUI, DUI accident, or other serious drug or alcohol-related driving violation.
Drivers may have to look for companies that offer special insurance coverage for drivers convicted of a DUI or high-risk insurance policies. Insurance coverage after a DUI generally requires an FR-44 certificate of financial responsibility.
What is an FR-44 Certification?
An FR-44 is a certificate of uniform financial responsibility. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-316 drivers convicted of certain offenses (including DUI/DWI) require FR-44 certification to get driving privileges reinstated. This is a certification from the driver's insurance company that the driver his certain coverage limits. FR-44 minimum insurance coverage limits are
- bodily injury/death of one person $50,000,
- bodily injury/death of two or more persons $100,000, and
- property damage $40,000.
(This is generally double the standard 25/50/20 minimum amount of liability coverage for Virginia drivers who do not have a DUI conviction).
Drivers generally need to keep FR-44 coverage for a period of three to four years after a DUI in Virginia. Drivers need to obtain FR-44 certification for a period of three years from the date the driver's license revocation ended. However, if the driver got a restricted license before revocation ended, the driver may need FR-44 coverage for four years.
The DMV will require FR-44 certification from the insurance company before your license can be reinstated. If you drop coverage or the insurance company drops coverage, the insurance company will notify the DMV through a Form FR-46. When the Virginia DMV is notified the driver no longer has FR-44 coverage, the driver's license will be immediately suspended.
Do I need FR-44 insurance if I don't have a car?
You may need to get FR-44 insurance even if you don't have a car in Virginia. FR-44 coverage is generally required after a DUI if you have a Virginia driver's license. Even if you don't have a car, your license may be suspended because of a DUI or DWI. In order to get your driving privileges back, you will have to get a “non-owner FR-44 certificate.”
After getting non-owner FR-44 coverage, if your coverage lapses the Virginia DMV will be notified and your license will be suspended. Getting your license back will require getting new FR-44 coverage and paying a license reinstatement fee.
How long will a DUI affect my insurance in Virginia?
Drivers may need a certificate of financial responsibility (FR-44) for three to four years after a DUI, depending on the license reinstatement. However, a driver's Virginia DMV driving record will show a DUI going back for a period of eleven years. Any insurance provider may issue higher rate quotes because of a prior DUI, even if it occurred years ago. It may take almost a decade before car insurance companies may offer a regular insurance rate or “safe driver” discount.
Charlottesville DUI Lawyer
The higher cost of insurance after a DUI is one of the most costly consequences of a drunk driving conviction in Virginia. Before pleading guilty to a DUI, make sure you understand your rights and how to fight Virginia DUI charges. If you were arrested for a drug or alcohol DUI in Virginia, talk to an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense attorney about how to fight insurance rate hikes. Contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.