What does a DWI conviction mean for my insurance rates?
A DWI conviction in North Carolina, whether by being found guilty at trial or pleading guilty, will result in long lasting consequences, beyond having a criminal conviction on your record and associated punishment by the judge. The North Carolina DMV uses a point system in determining license suspensions. After accumulating twelve (12) license points, the DMV in North Carolina issues a revocation of that person’s driving privileges within the state. A DWI conviction carries with it twelve (12) license points, which results in, at a minimum, a one year license revocation in North Carolina. The consequence of this revocation is that it then gets reported to your insurance company, which can cause a number of issues such as a premium increase or even worse, your coverage being dropped.
Given our experience handling DWI’s across North Carolina, we have heard virtually all of the horror stories related to insurance rates. Because a DWI conviction often classifies the driver as “high risk” it is not uncommon to see insurance rates increase up to 300% after the conviction is reported to the insurance company. Even worse, a number of insurance carriers will often drop the driver’s coverage all together because they do not want to assume the risk of that person engaging in further risky driving behavior. Because of the financial burden of a DWI conviction, it is not uncommon for people to amend their auto insurance coverage down to liability coverage only. The problem with this is that while it reduces your premium, if you were to be involved in an accident, you may be left with a damaged vehicle or medical expenses that you then have to pay out of pocket since your policy will only cover other drivers involved.
Two other common questions we get related to DWI convictions and insurance rates are 1) How long does the insurance premium increase last, and 2) Do I really have to have insurance to drive?
As for the first question, the typical look back period in assessing a driver’s risk and premium is three (3) years. So, the short answer based on common experience is that, if you are able to secure insurance coverage, you will be paying increased rates for at least the next three years. So, for example, let’s say that your monthly insurance payment, pre-conviction, is $100. After being convicted of DWI, the rate could increase to as much as $300 per month, which is an increase of $200 per month. Paying that increased amount for three years would cost you $7,200.00!!!!
To answer the second question, yes, you must have auto insurance to legally drive within the State of North Carolina. First, even without factoring in a DWI conviction, the law in North Carolina requires all drivers to insure their vehicles. Additionally, as stated above, a DWI conviction results in your North Carolina driving privileges being revoked for one year. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for a limited driving privilege for all, or a portion of, your revocation period. In the event that you are eligible, a judge must grant the privilege. In order for the judge to consider and ultimately grant your privilege, you or your attorney must submit proof of insurance coverage (a DL-123 form).
As you can see just from this short blog, the financial costs and consequences of a DWI conviction in North Carolina extend far beyond a criminal record, which is why it is imperative to consult with an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney to determine what, if any, options you may have to challenge and potentially win your case. To speak with an experienced and aggressive Charlotte DWI lawyer, call Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys now at (980) 237-4579 for a free case evaluation and consultation.