Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Sep 11, 2020

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California is very strict about drivers operating under the influence and any driver convicted of a California DUI charge will face heavy fines, penalties and (most likely) much higher car insurance rates. The California Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for publishing the current DUI laws and currently (2010) California law states:

  • It is ILLEGAL to drive a vehicle in the State of California under the influence or combined influence of any drug or alcoholic beverage
  • It is ILLEGAL for anyone to drive a vehicle with a 0.08 percent or more (by weight) of alcohol in his or her blood
  • It is ILLEGAL for any person addicted to the use of any kind of drugs to operate a vehicle (excluding a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program as per California state law)
  • It is ILLEGAL for anyone to operate a commercial vehicle who has 0.04 percent or more (by weight) of alcohol in his or her blood

We are not a law firm or official government website so its always best to consult with a licensed DUI attorney, lawyer or State Department to understand the full extent of California DUI law. As far as California car insurance goes however below are some of the most popular questions asked by people charged with a California DUI offense:

1) Do I have to report a DUI charge to my Car Insurance Company?

This will depend on the circumstances of your case. Should a court decide you are required to file an SR-22 form then yes, you will have to report a DUI charge to your car insurance company. The best thing to do and something you need to do right away is contact a California DUI lawyer.

2) How will my Car Insurance Company find out about my DUI charge if I don’t report it?

If you are required to file an SR-22 form your car insurance company has to know since only they can file this form and if you do not file a required SR-22 form you could be subject to very serious consequences including having your drivers license suspended along with possible further charges.

“Drivers can not file a SR22 form – car insurance companies must do it so you have to tell them”

Car insurance companies also regularly run checks of your driving record through the California DMV and DUI charges are recorded so sure, a car insurance company may not find out right away but they will.

” DUI convictions usually stay on your DMV record for 10 years “

3) What is an SR 22?

A California SR 22 form is a proof of financial responsibility filing with State to prove a driver has met certain financial requirements which meet or exceed state minimum auto insurance liability requirements. View California car insurance requirements here.

4) Can a Car Insurance Company raise premiums or cancel a policy midterm?

California car insurance laws forbid car insurance companies from taking any action (such as premium increases or cancellation) during the term of your policy. This is one major reason why most car insurance companies only offer 6 month policies. Once your term is up however, the car insurance company can raise your rates or elect to deny you coverage.

” Any driver who is required to file a SR-22 will automatically be classified as a high risk driver and many car insurance companies will simply deny coverage “

5) Will a California DUI increase my car insurance rates?

Yes. While there are some odds in favor of your car insurance rates not increasing let’s be real. You are a high risk driver and many car insurance companies don’t even want to insure you so expect to pay more.

A premium increase of 20%-50% is not uncommon in addition to the filling fees a car insurance company will pass on for filing your SR-22 form which can run $300 or more annually.

6) What if am I denied coverage?

Since California law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance the State also has a duty to ensure all drivers can obtain car insurance coverage. Although you may be initially denied car insurance through the voluntary market California has a program called the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan which will match you with a car insurance company and require them to insure you.

Any kind of DUI charge or DUI conviction will not only cause problems with car insurance but also cost you time and money. While its obviously never a good idea to operate a vehicle under the influence of any drug or alcohol its important to understand your rights when you do and car insurance rates should be your last thought – finding a good DUI attorney should be your first.

Compare California Car Insurance Quotes here.