There are a lot of costs associated with a conviction for drinking and driving: fines, the cost of getting your driver’s license reinstated, legal fees and so on. Even after you pay the penalties the judge hands you, you will probably experience another hit to your wallet.
That’s because auto insurance companies tend to jack up their premiums after a customer pleads guilty of DWI or is convicted in court — especially here in North Carolina. According to Forbes, the average North Carolina driver’s insurance rate goes up 319 percent after a DWI. That is the highest average increase by far for a U.S. state. Believe it or not, North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan recommends a 340 percent increase, so if anything, insurance companies are being somewhat conservative.
Even if you did not get into a car accident, from your insurance company’s perspective, you are a risky driver because you now have a DWI on your record. To keep being insured, you may have to pay twice or three times for your monthly premiums once you get your license back — if not more.
Whether or not this is fair is a matter of perspective. What matters is that you need to be aware of this likely consequence of a DWI conviction. It could affect your defense strategy, especially if you were having a tough time affording insurance before your arrest. For example, suppose the evidence against you is shaky, or you believe the arresting officer violated your rights. In that case, the prospect of tripled insurance premiums may help convince you that fighting the charge in court is worthwhile.