If you’ve been convicted of DUI in South Carolina, you already know you’re facing some pretty serious consequences. The penalties for a DUI conviction are more serious than some people think. Not only will you be facing fines and a suspension of your driver’s license, but your insurance rates will probably go up as well. This is why we always say it’s best to go online and search for the “best DUI defense lawyer near me” immediately after your arrest.
Once you’re convicted there isn’t much a criminal defense lawyer in Clemson can do to help you. Unless you’re still within the appeals period, the best they can do is try to get the State to agree to a diversionary program. Or, better yet, they can appeal to the judge to get you a provisional license. However, even if they’re able to do that, the judge will most likely require you to secure SR-22 insurance.
Here, we’ll talk about how a DUI conviction impacts your car insurance rates. We’ll also discuss what happens if the judge orders you to obtain SR-22 auto insurance. Finally, we’ll explain why it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Clemson before you’re found guilty.
Why Does the Insurance Company Care that You Have a DUI Conviction?
One of the first things our clients ask us is why the insurance company cares whether they’ve been charged and convicted of DUI. It’s not like you were in an accident. You didn’t hurt anybody. In fact, if all your arrest involved was a routing traffic stop on suspicion of DUI, you didn’t even file a claim. What business is it of the insurance carriers that you have a DUI conviction?
The truth is that your insurance company has a vested interest in your driving behaviors. When you first signed up for coverage with your insurance carrier, they either asked you to provide a copy of your driving abstract or they pulled one on their own. This is because they want to know what your driving history is. If they learn that you were arrested and got a DUI conviction, they consider you a high risk. This is because some of the worst motor vehicle accidents are those involving a drunk driver.
Once you show that you have the propensity and willingness to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you’ve demonstrated that you’re a high-risk driver. If you do happen to get into an accident, the insurance company feels the crash will result in devastating injuries, thereby costing them thousands, or millions of dollars.
What Does it Mean if the Judge Orders You to Obtain an SR-22 Certificate?
Sometimes, after you’ve received a DUI conviction and got sentences, your criminal defense lawyer in Clemson can appeal to the judge for a provisional driver’s license. Typically, the judge will require you to serve out part of your license suspension – usually 30 days. After that point, if you can prove that you need your license for work or school, they’ll approve a limited license.
If the judge grants your request for a provisional or hardship license after a DUI conviction, they will usually order you to secure a certificate that confirms you have high-risk auto insurance. This is commonly referred to as an SR-22 certificate. This is a certificate provided by your insurance carrier stating that you now have high-risk insurance coverage. This way, if you do happen to get into an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there is enough coverage for any serious bodily injuries or deaths.
There’s No Guarantee Your Current Insurance Carrier Will Keep You on as a Client
One of the problems with needing an SR-22 certificate is that your current insurance company won’t provide it. In fact, for many drivers with a DUI conviction, their insurance company drops them. They don’t want to keep somebody on as a customer if they’re at a higher risk of getting into an accident.
Whether you have to find a new insurance carrier or are able to stick with your current insurance company, it will be expensive. Even if you don’t have to get the SR-22 certificate, that doesn’t mean your insurance rates won’t change. Once the insurance company is apprised of your DUI conviction, your rates will automatically go up.
And we’re not talking about a few hundred dollars per year. Some of our clients with DUI convictions have reported that they had to pay two or three times as much for their insurance. This isn’t because they were paying for more coverage. It is because they are considered a much higher risk.
How Long Will It Take for Your Insurance Rates to Come Back Down?
You may be afraid you asked this question. It usually takes about 10 years after a DUI conviction for your rates to come back down. This seems like an awfully long time. That’s because a DUI conviction is a big deal.
This is just one of the reasons we urge people to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in Clemson immediately after their arrest and before getting a DUI conviction. This may be the only chance you have of keeping your insurance rates at a reasonable level. Once the DUI conviction is solidified, there isn’t much anybody can do to keep your insurance rates from skyrocketing.
It’s Never a Good Idea to Wait to Hire a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in Clemson
We always feel bad when a potential client calls us after they have a DUI conviction. In South Carolina, you only have 30 days to appeal a DUI conviction. If you don’t get in touch with us within a couple of days of your conviction, there isn’t much we can do to help. This is why we suggest you go online and search for the “best DUI defense lawyer near me” the day your trial ends. Of course, it’s always better to call us the day after your arrest. But that’s water under the bridge at this point.
Call our office and schedule a meeting with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Clemson, South Carolina. We’ll do our best to get your DUI conviction overturned. Or, if it’s too late for that, we can always help you apply for a provisional license. That may be the only thing that helps you keep your auto insurance rates lower over the long-term.