Most people understand that traffic violations like speeding might potentially affect their insurance rates, but some drivers may not see a change at all. However, when it comes to DUI convictions, specifically Arizona DUI convictions, most drivers can be sure that dodging a hike in insurance premiums is practically impossible. This commonly arises because of the type of insurance most jurisdictions, including Arizona, require drivers with DUI convictions to obtain.
When the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspends or revokes drivers' licenses because of a DUI, the laws in many states like Arizona require drivers to file an SR 22 certificate prior to license reinstatement. An SR 22 is simply a certificate of liability coverage drivers get from their auto insurance carrier. The document is then forwarded to the DMV.
Determining Arizona Insurance Premiums Following a DUI
When drivers obtain SR 22, insurers consider a number of factors when coming up with a premium price. All drivers with DUI convictions can be sure that they won't receive a "good driver" discount, but some drivers can expect a higher hike than others. Age, gender and marital status are a few factors insurers consider. Young, unmarried men, for example, are determined to be a much higher risk than middle aged women married with children so can expect to pay more.
Drivers' prior driving records, place of residence, and affiliation with professional organizations are also factors insurance companies look at when settling on the auto insurance premium rate for drivers convicted of DUI.
Of course, ultimately, different insurers will look at many different factors.
Factors That Help Mitigate Arizona Insurance Premium Increases
Insurance companies, however, will not increase rates simply because of an arrest. In Arizona, for example, state law prohibits increases for most infractions that occur after the auto policy's first 60 days. However, once the policy is due for renewal, insurance carriers are likely to impose higher premium charges.
Additionally, some insurance carriers understand that there are certain first-time-DUI offenders that aren't likely to reoffend. If a driver has a perfect driving history, or 10 years between serious violations, he or she may not see a dramatic increase in rates.
A defensive driving course is another way to mitigate any increase in auto insurance premiums or harm to a driving record. These courses educate drivers about the proper methods of turning and passing, the meaning of particular traffic signs and signals, and how to drive in differing conditions. The Arizona Supreme Court has approved a number of online courses for Arizona drivers with DUI convictions.
It's important to note, however, that defensive driving courses in Arizona are different from mandatory traffic survival school (TSS) courses. The Arizona Supreme Court requires drivers complete TSS classes for those who have "exhibited a disregard for traffic laws and the safety of others." Specifically, drivers convicted of DUI, aggressive driving, red-light violations or have accumulated 8-12 points within a year are required to attend. TSS classes teach drivers about Arizona traffic laws, reinforce their responsibilities to others while driving, and increase their attitude and awareness about safe driving.
Regardless of the insurance carrier, insurance rates will most likely be assessed around a central theme: the greater the driver's inherent risk, the higher the insurance payments will be.
All factors considered, a driver can expect to see increases of $300-$800 for his or her automobile insurance premiums per year depending on the carrier.