If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, you face the potential penalties of a DWI conviction, which include hefty fines, potential jail time, and a license suspension, as well as time away from work when you need to appear in court, the cost of hiring a DWI defense attorney, and paying the court costs associated with defending yourself. But there are additional consequences as well, such as increased North Carolina insurance rates when it comes time to renew your policy.
Car insurance companies are in the business of assessing risk. They use complex formulas and analyze data to determine whether a driver is at an increased risk of becoming involved in an accident in the future. Then they use this information to determine your North Carolina insurance rates.
Car insurance companies carefully track statistics to arrive at insurance premiums. If you have been charged with a DWI, or if there are other reasons to classify you as a high-risk driver, you will be charged higher insurance rates when you renew your insurance policy. For example, young men are more likely than young women to be involved in car accidents. People with children are generally less likely to be involved in a car accident than people who do not have children. Young people are a higher insurance risk than people who have reached middle age.
These higher-risk drivers are charged more for insurance because there is a greater chance that the insurance company will need to pay a claim.
Your personal driving record plays a large role in determining your car insurance rates. A few minor traffic offenses are unlikely to have a significant impact on your North Carolina insurance. But a driver who has been charged with a DWI will be considered high-risk. From the viewpoint of an insurance company, someone who was charged with a DWI has probably operated a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol more than once. And it’s likely that they will do it again.
Even if a DWI was a mistake that will never happen again, the North Carolina insurance company will label you as a high-risk driver and will increase your insurance rates. North Carolina has created an assigned risk pool (NC reinsurance facility) for drivers who have prior DWI convictions. While individual circumstances will vary, a North Carolina driver can expect their insurance premiums to increase substantially, even a number of years after a DWI charge. The average annual insurance rate for a driver without a DWI is $955 per year. The average annual insurance rate for a driver with a DWI is $4,371 per year.
Even so, the effect of a DWI charge on your insurance rates will vary depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, a DWI that resulted in a low-speed collision a few blocks from your house will be evaluated differently than a high-speed wreck on the interstate involving multiple vehicles that caused numerous serious injuries. In most cases, a DWI charge will remain on your record and impact your insurance rates for five to seven years after a DWI conviction. After seven years, your insurance rates should return to normal, assuming you have not had any additional driving infractions.
In some instances, you will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility before you are allowed to drive again. This is known as an SR-22 bond, which proves that you are carrying the state-mandated minimum amount of insurance coverage.
If you are required to file an SR-22 bond, your insurance carrier will file the bond with the department of motor vehicles to verify that you have valid and adequate insurance coverage. Of course, your insurance carrier will charge you extra for preparing and submitting this form.
In severe cases or in cases where you have had other traffic infractions and are charged with a DWI, your insurance carrier may decide to cancel your insurance policy when the policy term expires.
If you had insurance coverage in place at the time of your arrest, your insurance company will cover any damages or injuries caused under the terms of the insurance policy. But they may decide not to renew your policy when the current policy term expires.
You will also lose any good driver discounts and will be ineligible for these discounts as long as the DWI remains on your driving record.
A North Carolina DWI charge is a serious criminal offense that can have a significant effect on your life. To minimize the impact of a DWI charge, you should work with an experienced DWI defense attorney like Ryan Stowe.
Ryan Stowe and the Stowe Law Firm, PLLC will thoroughly evaluate your case and analyze any factors that could be used to have the charges reduced or the case dismissed.
When it comes to DWI charges and investigations, Mr. Stowe has completed the same training as law enforcement officers. He has earned certificates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in both "DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing" and "Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE)." ARIDE is an advanced-level course, and it is possible that Mr. Stowe has actually received more training in DWI detection than the officer who arrested you.
If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, contact the Stowe Law Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case and how we can help.
The Stowe Law Firm proudly represents people in Rowan County, Mecklenburg County, Davidson County, Cabarrus County, and Stanly County.