If you have been convicted of Driving under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs (“DUI,” or sometimes referred to as a “DWI/Driving While Intoxicated”) in NJ, you probably already know that driving while drinking will trigger a substantial increase in your auto insurance premium. Or maybe you just received a conviction and you are wondering how a DUI affects auto insurance rates? Either way, we want to help you understand what is happening to your insurance rates if you are convicted.
As with just about any moving violation, insurance carriers set rates according to risk, driving while intoxicated represents substantial future risk, statistically speaking. You should be prepared to pay substantially higher premiums for several years, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do to reduce your auto insurance bill over time. The road to recovery begins with having a clear understanding of the NJ point system and the available steps you can take to lower your insurance rates.
Will Reducing the Number of Points on Your NJ MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission) Record Help?
Yes and no. Understanding the point system in New Jersey and what you can do to reduce or eliminate your points can be helpful in improving your situation after a DUI, but points are not the only way that the MVC and insurance carriers determine your status. Drinking and driving itself, regardless of points, has its own consequences independent of points. But speaking strictly about the points side of the equation, the MVC in New Jersey maintains a permanent record of the violation points that you’ve received. However, the state provides a clear path to eliminating a number of points on your driving record. The following is an available action plan to improve your rate by getting rid of points on your record:
- No violations or suspensions for 1 year: 3-point reduction
- Complete a Driver Improvement Program: 3-point reduction
- Complete Probationary Driver Program: 3-point reduction
- Complete a Defensive Driver Program: 2-point reduction
It is important to note that completing the Probationary Driver Program may only be undertaken once you are ordered by the Motor Vehicle Commission to attend. Also, the Driver Improvement Program can only be used to reduce points once every two years, when participation is prompted by the NJ MVC. Again, reducing points can be helpful, but a DUI will have ramifications regardless of your given number of points.
Avoid a Lapse in Coverage
You may be tempted to go without coverage or give up driving for an extended period of time (or both) in order to save money. However, this may be costly in the long run even when it saves you a lot in the short run. A lapse in coverage is a factor that most insurers will penalize heavily, so if you can figure out the most affordable way to continue your insurance coverage, it will serve you well. Try to avoid letting your coverage lapse, even if you plan to stop driving for a period of time.
Reducing Coverage Can Cost You
You may also be tempted to reduce your auto insurance limits or increase your deductibles in order to lower your substantially increased rate after a DUI. While this is an understandable strategy following the financial impact of drinking and driving, it exposes you to future financial risk and also makes you an even less attractive risk to future insurers. Drivers who carry minimum, low liability limit coverage do not typically get the best rates. If you can manage the cost, try to stay clear of being identified as a “low limit” driver.
Maintain a Solid Credit History
This may be a time of substantial financial hardship, given the various costs associated with a DWI conviction. Such episodes can threaten to destabilize your personal finances. But don’t let this compound your insurance premium challenges. Protect your credit and maintain good credit hygiene. Many insurers use factors from your credit history to calculate your premium.
Choosing the Right Insurance Carrier Following a DUI
Patience is a virtue in this situation. Play your cards right, stay violation free, and over time your rate will drop, and you can return to a more budget-friendly premium payment. For expert advice on how to address you or your family’s new auto insurance challenges, consult with a licensed Plymouth Rock agent. We’ve given expert guidance to NJ drivers for nearly four decades. Find out more information about whether or not car insurance covers vandalism, windshield replacement on your vehicle or other drivers who drive your car. Call Plymouth Rock at 855-993-4470, get your free quote online or find a local agent today to get the coverage that you need and the support that you deserve.