• How will a driver’s license suspension for drunk driving affect your car insurance?

    22 February 2018Christopher Johnson

    You had one too many? You were asleep in your car after a night spent partying? You didn’t have far to go and you thought that you could drive home safely, but that’s not what the police thought? Every year, between 4,000 and 5,000 people* are asked by the police to take a breathalyzer test and learn that they are currently exceeding the legal limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (the famous .08). As independent insurance brokers, we at Assurances Multi-Risques are not there to judge you, but rather to offer advice that might help you to avoid future insurance woes.

     

    What happens when your driver’s license is suspended for DUI?

    As soon as you are arrested for driving under the influence, whether it be because of alcohol or drugs, your license is automatically suspended, generally for a period of 3 months. Follows a judiciary process that culminates in a criminal justice trial hearing. If you receive a guilty verdict, your driver’s license may then be suspended or even revoked. DUI license suspensions vary from 12, 36 to 60 months, in case of re-offence or if the blood alcohol levels exceeded twice the legal limit (note that modifying the statutory suspension period is one of the judge’s prerogatives). Our advice is, of course, to avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If, however, you are ever arrested for a DIU offense, we strongly advise that you contact a lawyer specialized in criminal offenses for proper counselling.

     

    Do I need to tell my insurer that my driver’s license has been suspended?

    You are legally obligated to inform your insurer of circumstances that modify your risk level. A suspended driver’s license for DUI increases your risk level and must therefore be mentioned to your insurer as soon as possible. Please note that having your permit suspended following a DIU offense is not the same as having your permit suspended under the zero tolerance policy which results in 4 demerit points and an automatic 3‑month driver’s license suspension (this infraction must also be reported to your insurer). Following your arrest, some insurers will continue to their coverage until you receive your verdict (and sometimes until it is time for you to renew your contract) while others will give you a statutory period (30 days) to find another insurer willing to take you on.

     

    Will my car insurance premium go up following my DUI driver’s license suspension?

    Such an offense will of course result in cost increases and a few inconveniences. The fact that your insurance contract has been revoked or not renewed following a conviction for DUI will necessarily lead to an increased premium with your next insurer as your risk level will have increased. Be sure to tell your new insurer the truth. As you know, word of what really happened usually gets around. It’s very easy for an insurer to check your SAAQ record and then to refuse coverage in case of a new claim. We strongly advise that you contact an independent insurance broker specialized in criminal offenses such as DUI and have him/her enquire about the price of your car’s insurance contract to avoid nasty surprises down the road.

    Your new insurer could also ask you for proof that you have equipped your vehicle with a car breathalyzer before agreeing to insurance coverage. Your driver’s license suspension will be on your SAAQ record for 10 years, and insurers will be allowed to request an insurance surcharge for several years following an over-80 (over 80 milligrams of blood alcohol) or a DUI conviction.

    In general, regular insurance companies will agree to reinstate their coverage after a 3‑year period.

    We all make mistakes and it’s therefore important to know how to best deal with them. If you have made the mistake of drinking and driving, requesting the help of a specialized independent insurance broker to put you back on track is the best thing you can do. Before you take the wheel after drinking too much, please remember that it’s better to ask someone else to drive you or to take a taxi home. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

     

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    *https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/documents/publications/donnees-statistiques-2015.pdf.