If you've recently completed the terms of your plea agreement or criminal sentence following a DUI, you may be looking forward to getting back to a normal life -- including regaining your driving privileges. However, if your insurance was dropped or suspended after your DUI conviction, you may be concerned that an inability to obtain coverage could keep you taking public transportation or arranging for rides from friends for a while longer. What can you do to regain your driving privileges after a DUI conviction? Will you be able to obtain auto insurance? Read on to learn more about how a DUI conviction can affect your ability to drive, as well as what you can do to make your re-entry into the driving world as seamless and inexpensive as possible.
What effect does a DUI conviction or guilty plea have on your driving privileges?
The specific penalties for a DUI are set by each individual state -- however, most states will at least temporarily suspend your driving privileges upon your guilty plea or a criminal conviction. You may also be required to attend alcohol education classes or driving classes in order to render yourself once again eligible for a driver's license. Under some circumstances, you may be able to obtain a driving allowance -- permission to drive yourself to and from work or other necessary locations, but nowhere else. If this is the situation, your car will likely be fitted with a GPS device to ensure that you're abiding by the terms of your probation.
How can your driving privileges be reinstated?
Once you've fulfilled the sentencing or probation requirements set by the court, you'll need to petition the court for permission to reinstate your driver's license. The court will then issue an order granting or denying this request and setting out the reasons in support. Next, you'll need to obtain an SR-22 form or certificate of insurability from an auto insurance provider. This helps ensure that once you're licensed, you won't be risking uncompensated liability by driving while uninsured.
You'll usually need to take both the SR-22 and court order to your local bureau of motor vehicles in order to have your license reissued. At this time, you should have the same driving privileges you enjoyed before your arrest. If you want to learn more about the SR-22 form, you can get more info here.
Is there any way to avoid an increase in auto insurance costs following a DUI?
One of the primary concerns for anyone who has recently been convicted for DUI is the projected increase in the cost of insurance for the next few years. However, in many cases (particularly for your first offense), any increase in costs may be minimal -- just a few hundred dollars per year. There are also several things you can do to further minimize the impact of a DUI conviction on your insurance costs, including:
- Taking alcohol education courses
Taking a court- or insurer-approved alcohol education course can help demonstrate your commitment to safe driving -- and therefore, the decreased likelihood that you'll commit another alcohol-related offense.
- Taking defensive driving courses
If your DUI conviction also involved an at-fault accident, this single event may be listed as two separate situations on your driving record. In this case, taking a defensive driving course can help minimize the impact of the accident -- again by decreasing the likelihood that you'll be involved in another accident.
Above all, be comforted by the thought that any increase in your insurance costs is just a temporary blip. After a few years, your DUI conviction will "age off" the driving reports used by insurance providers, and your policy costs should decrease down to their pre-DUI levels.