Car Insurance After a DWI – Driving while impaired (DWI) is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for your driving record, your license, and your car insurance. If you have been convicted of DWI, you may be wondering how to find affordable car insurance after a DWI. In this article, we will explain how a DWI affects your car insurance, how long it stays on your record, and what you can do to lower your premiums.
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How a DWI Affects Your Car Insurance
A DWI conviction is considered a major violation that shows you are a high-risk driver. As a result, your car insurance company will likely raise your rates significantly or even cancel your policy altogether. According to some online insurance calculators, drivers in Ontario can expect to see their premiums increase by between $5,000 and $8,000 annually after a DWI.
The exact amount of the rate increase will depend on several factors, such as:
- Your driving history and previous claims
- The severity of the offense and the blood alcohol level
- The type and amount of coverage you have
- The insurance company and the province you live in
Some provinces have government-run insurance plans that include options for high-risk drivers, such as Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. In these provinces, drivers with a DWI conviction may pay as much as $1,600 more per year, but they may also be required to install an interlock device on their vehicle. An interlock device is a breathalyzer that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has alcohol in the system.
How Long a DWI Stays on Your Record
In general, most insurance companies will consider a DWI on your record for at least three to five years, depending on your province. However, the exact length of time can vary depending on the specific insurance company and your circumstances. For example, some insurers may look at your driving record for up to 10 years after a conviction.
A DWI conviction will also affect your criminal record, which can have implications for your employment, travel, and other aspects of your life. Depending on the province and the offense, you may be able to apply for a pardon or record suspension after a certain period. However, this will not erase the conviction from your driving record or affect your insurance rates.
How to Lower Your Car Insurance After a DWI
Finding affordable car insurance after a DWI can be challenging, but not impossible. There are some steps you can take to reduce your premiums and improve your driving record over time. Here are some tips to help you find cheaper car insurance after a DWI:
- Compare auto insurance quotes from different providers. Some insurers specialize in high-risk drivers and may offer lower rates than others. You can use online tools or work with a broker to find the best deal for your situation.
- Enroll in a driving record rehabilitation program. Some insurers offer programs that can help you clean up your driving record and lower your risk level. These programs may include driver education courses, safe driving habits, and regular monitoring.
- Drive less and drive safely. The less you drive, the less likely you are to get into an accident or another violation. You can also lower your mileage by using public transportation, carpooling, or working from home. Additionally, you should avoid any risky behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence.
- Choose a cheaper and safer vehicle. The type of vehicle you drive can affect your insurance rates. Generally, newer, more expensive, and more powerful vehicles cost more to insure than older, cheaper, and less powerful ones. You should also look for vehicles that have good safety ratings and features.
- Adjust your coverage and deductible. You may be able to save money by reducing the amount or type of coverage you have. For example, you may not need collision or comprehensive coverage if you have an older vehicle that is not worth much. However, you should always make sure you have at least the minimum required liability coverage in your province. You can also increase your deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance kicks in.
Finding affordable car insurance after a DWI is not easy, but it is possible. By following these tips and comparing quotes from different providers, you may be able to find a policy that suits your needs and budget.
How to Avoid a DWI in the First Place
The best way to avoid a DWI and its consequences is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some tips to help you avoid driving while impaired:
- Plan. If you know you are going to drink or use drugs, arrange a safe ride home before you go out. You can use public transportation, call a taxi, or ask a sober friend or family member to pick you up.
- Know your limits. Be aware of how much alcohol or drugs affect you and how long they stay in your system. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Canada is 0.08%, but you can be impaired even with a lower BAC. The effects of drugs can vary depending on the type, dose, and method of consumption.
- Use a breathalyzer or drug testing kit. If you are unsure whether you are safe to drive, you can use a personal breathalyzer or drug testing kit to check your BAC or drug level. However, these devices are not always accurate or reliable, so it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid driving if you have consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs.
- Don’t mix alcohol and drugs. Mixing alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of impairment and adverse effects. Some drugs can enhance the effects of alcohol, while others can mask the symptoms of impairment. Either way, you may not realize how impaired you are until it is too late.
- Don’t give in to peer pressure. If someone offers you a drink or a drug or tries to persuade you to drive while impaired, say no firmly and confidently. You have the right to make your own decisions and protect yourself and others from harm.
How to Deal with the Legal Consequences of a DWI
A DWI conviction can have serious legal consequences that can affect your life for years to come. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may face:
- A criminal record that can limit your employment, travel, and education opportunities
- A fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for a first offense, and higher for subsequent offenses
- A license suspension ranging from one year to indefinitely
- A mandatory ignition interlock device installation on your vehicle for at least one year
- Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug education or treatment program
- A possible jail sentence ranging from 30 days to five years
If you have been charged with a DWI, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options, and represent you in court. A lawyer may be able to:
- Challenge the validity of the evidence against you
- Negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser charge or penalty
- Seek a conditional discharge or record suspension
- Apply for early reinstatement of your license
However, there is no guarantee that a lawyer can get you a favorable outcome. The best way to avoid the legal consequences of a DWI is to avoid getting one in the first place.
How to Recover from a DWI Emotionally and Socially
A DWI conviction can hurt your emotional and social well-being. You may experience:
- Guilt, shame, and remorse for your actions and their consequences
- Anger, frustration, and resentment towards yourself, the authorities, or others involved in your case
- Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem due to the stigma and isolation associated with a DWI
- Stress, fear, and uncertainty about your prospects and opportunities
- Addiction, dependence, or abuse issues related to alcohol or drugs
To cope with these feelings and challenges, you may need professional help and support. You can seek:
- Counseling or therapy from a qualified mental health professional who can help you process your emotions, identify and address any underlying issues, and develop coping skills and strategies
- Support groups or peer networks from people who have been through similar experiences and can offer empathy, advice, and encouragement
- Family and friends who can provide emotional support, practical assistance, and positive reinforcement
You may also need to make some changes in your lifestyle and habits to prevent a relapse or recurrence of a DWI. You may need to:
- Avoid drinking or using drugs altogether or limit your consumption to moderate levels
- Avoid situations or triggers that may tempt you to drink use drugs or drive while impaired
- Find healthy alternatives to cope with stress, boredom, or negative emotions
- Set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements
- Seek forgiveness from yourself and others who may have been affected by your DWI
Recovering from a DWI can be a long and difficult process, but it is possible. With the right help and support, you can overcome the challenges and move on with your life.