Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Maryland, and it can come with serious consequences as well. Apart from legal troubles and hefty fines, a DUI conviction can also have a significant impact on your car insurance rates.
After a driver has been caught with at least an .08% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level while behind the wheel, many insurance companies will deem them a risk—and being seen as a risk can negatively impact how much you pay for car insurance. Since a DUI conviction can have devastating effects on your life, it’s crucial to take the charges seriously and seek legal advice from an experienced DUI defense lawyer to understand your options and minimize the impact of the conviction.
Understanding Maryland’s DUI laws
In Bowie and Crofton, a driver can be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol concentration is .08% or higher, or if they exhibit signs of impairment while driving; that means you could face a DUI charge even if you are below the legal limit. Drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI even if their BAC is only .02% or higher since they are under the legal drinking age limit.
Many people may not realize it, but Maryland also has a “per se” law. This means that a driver can face a DUI charge even if they don’t exhibit signs of impairment while driving. Instead, if their BAC is above the legal limit of .08%, they can still be charged with a DUI. The reason for this law is to ensure that drivers are fully sober when they’re behind the wheel, thereby reducing the risk of a fatal accident. (After all, drunk driving claims the lives of about 32 people every single day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That means 1 person dies every 45 minutes in an accident caused by a drunk driver.)
If you are convicted of a DUI, you could be facing charges like:
- Up to a $1,000 fine
- Up to 1 year in jail
- 12 points on your driving record
- Up to 6 months of license suspension
The lasting impact of a DUI on car insurance rates
DUI convictions can have a long-lasting impact on car insurance rates in Bowie and Crofton. Insurance companies view DUIs as high-risk factors, as they indicate a higher likelihood of accidents or other incidents that could result in claims. As a result, car insurance rates for drivers with DUI convictions can increase significantly, with some drivers experiencing rate hikes of up to 67% or more. According to Forbes, a good driver will averagely pay $1,998 annually while someone with one DUI will pay about $3,806—that is over $1,800 more every year.
Not only is the annual rate increase pretty drastic, that new car insurance rate can also last for years, as insurance companies typically consider driving records over a multi-year period when determining rates. This means that even after a DUI conviction drops off of a driver’s record, they may still be paying higher car insurance rates for several years to come.
Insurance companies can choose to drop you
Since insurance companies are private businesses, it is actually legal for them to drop your policy or not renew it due to a DUI conviction. If you are searching for a new insurer, they can also deny you a policy because of your driving history. Putting cost aside, just trying to find an insurer who will accept you as a driver can cause some additional stress during an already-stressful period in your life.
Does Maryland require an SR-22 for insurance after a DUI conviction?
No, it does not. An SR-22 is a form that gets filed with the state to prove that a driver meets the minimum car insurance coverage the law requires. After a DUI, some states require that drivers file for an SR-22. While filing for the form itself is not expensive, car insurers typically consider anyone who needs an SR-22 a high-risk driver and will raise their insurance premiums accordingly. While many other states require this, Maryland luckily does not.
There are ways to reduce the effects of a DUI on your car insurance
While getting charged with a DUI can feel like the end of the road, there are ways that drivers in Bowie and Crofton can potentially alleviate some of the impact. One of the most important things a driver can do is to shop around for car insurance. Different insurance providers offer different rates, and shopping around can help drivers find the best deal on car insurance even after a DUI conviction.
Additionally, drivers can take steps to improve their driving record by enrolling in defensive driving courses or practicing safe driving habits. By doing so, they can demonstrate their commitment to responsible driving to insurance companies and potentially reduce the impact of a DUI conviction on their car insurance rates in a shorter span of time.
By shopping around for car insurance, improving their driving record, and demonstrating responsibility to insurance companies, drivers with DUI convictions can take control of their situation and work towards a brighter future. While it may take time and effort, it’s never too late to make positive changes and take steps towards a more responsible and safe driving record.
An experienced DUI attorney serving Bowie and Crofton can help
One too many drinks at the bar can have some life-altering repercussions that may even take away your freedom. Luckily, working with an attorney can be an invaluable asset for drivers facing a DUI conviction in Maryland. At Carey Law Office, we will help defend you against your DUI charge so you will not have to worry about the skyrocketing cost of car insurance after a conviction. We have in-depth knowledge of the state’s DUI laws and can help drivers understand their legal options. We will also help drivers navigate the complex legal system and work towards mitigating the impact of a DUI conviction on their lives.
Rather than merely accepting the DUI charge as-is, our firm can negotiate a plea bargain or reduced charges with the prosecutors. We also can help you explore potential alternatives to a traditional DUI conviction, such as participation in a diversion program or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. These alternatives can help drivers address underlying issues that may have contributed to their DUI offense and demonstrate their commitment to responsible driving to the court and insurance companies.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Bowie, Crofton, or anywhere in Maryland, it is important that you understand the potential impact it may have on your car insurance rates and your life. However, working with an experienced DUI attorney can help mitigate these impacts and guide you towards the best possible outcome. At Carey Law Office, our firm has extensive experience representing clients in DUI cases. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you need the help of an aggressive yet skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Bowie, Crofton, and Owings, and also serve Calvert County and the surrounding areas.
My name is Joe Carey, and I am the founder and principal attorney of the Carey Law Office. I have lived in Maryland my entire life. I grew up in a small town in Prince George’s County and, with the help of my partner in life, Nancy, I raised my family here: three exceptional children (a son and two daughters), and two goofy, spoiled black Labrador Retrievers. Learn More