Does a Dismissed DUI Affect Insurance?
Any conviction has its consequences. For drunk driving offenses, this can include fines, being put on probation, the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges, the requirement you install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, and, potentially, jail time. However, there are many other collateral consequences of a conviction. One of these is an increase in your monthly insurance premiums. However, what happens if your New Mexico drunk driving charges are dismissed?
This is a good question and one that depends very much on the specifics of your situation. However, generally, if the prosecution withdraws charges, nothing should appear on your driving record, and your insurance rates will not go up. However, there are a few important exceptions to this rule worth noting.
Does a DUI Show Up on a Background Check?
Yes, if you are convicted of a DUI offense, it will show up on a background check and will be noted on your driving record. This will increase your car insurance premiums.
Car insurance companies are in the business of risk. In exchange for your monthly premium, an insurance company agrees to cover the costs you may incur if you are in an accident. Thus, insurance companies charge more to insure drivers who are more likely, in their opinion, to cause an accident.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has conclusively been shown to decrease drivers’ reaction time and judgment, which increases the chance of getting into an accident. Thus, if an insurance company finds out that you were arrested and convicted of a drunk driving offense, they will increase your rates.
The amount your insurance rates increase after a DUI depends on several factors, including:
- The nature of the DUI offense,
- Your previous driving record,
- Where you live,
- Your age, and
- Your insurance company.
While the effect of a DUI on your insurance rates will vary depending on these circumstances, one recent study showed that those with a DUI on their record pay, on average, 80% higher insurance rates.
The Effect of a Withdrawn DUI Charge
When discussing car insurance rates, it is important to note that every insurance policy is different. However, in general, if New Mexico DUI charges are withdrawn, the insurance company will not know about the case because nothing will end up on your driving record. Thus, if a case is withdrawn—and isn’t pled down to a lesser offense—your rates will probably not go up. Of course, it’s worth taking a look at your insurance policy to see if there is any language stating otherwise. However, the bottom line is that, if the insurance company doesn’t know about the case, they will have no reason to increase your rates. So you may not want to tell your insurance company about an open drunk driving case. If it is subsequently withdrawn, they won’t know about it.
When a Withdrawn DUI Offense Could Increase Your Car Insurance Rates
Under some circumstances, a withdrawn DUI charge could affect your insurance rates. However, in most of these cases, it wouldn’t be the DUI charge that increased your rates, but something else on your driving record that shows the insurance company you are a higher risk driver. The following examples are situations where a DUI arrest without conviction could impact your insurance rates.
You’re Cited for Other Traffic Offenses Aside from the DUI
It is not uncommon for a driver to receive other citations during a DUI arrest. Often, this may be the reason why police initiated the traffic stop. For example, perhaps a driver was speeding or driving erratically, which caught a police officer’s attention. Whether the police officer writes up a citation for these traffic offenses depends on the officer’s discretion. Frequently, officers who arrest someone for drunk driving will not also cite them for other traffic offenses. However, if you receive a traffic ticket in addition to being arrested for a New Mexico DUI offense, the traffic citation may end up increasing your insurance rates, even if the prosecution withdraws the DUI charges.
You Plead to a Lesser Offense
Another situation where a withdrawn DUI offense could result in your insurance rates increasing involves a situation in which you are found guilty of a lesser offense, either after going to trial and being found guilty, or through a plea agreement.
If you are arrested for a DUI, the prosecution may allow you to plead guilty to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving. If you agree, the prosecution will withdraw the DUI charge and amend the criminal complaint to add the negotiated charge. While technically the DUI was withdrawn, the added charge will likely impact your insurance rates. One potential way around this is to negotiate with the prosecutors, asking them to add a non-traffic-related offense, such as disorderly conduct.
You Admit to Your Insurance Company That You Were Drunk Driving
Although this is probably not likely, in theory, an insurance company could increase your rates if you admit that you were driving under the influence. Generally, when you talk to your insurance company, they can use whatever you tell them against you. Remember, under the law, you are innocent until proven guilty, so admitting to a legal conclusion—such as driving under the influence—is not something you need to do.
It’s worth noting that most insurance companies allow you to lock in your rate for the term. And they typically do not perform a DUI background check until your policy is up for renewal. Thus, even if convicted of a New Mexico DUI offense, chances are that your insurance rates won’t go up immediately. However, if you have other DUIs or traffic citations on your record, your insurance company could terminate your coverage.
Reach out to a Dedicated New Mexico DUI Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Options
If you have recently been arrested for a New Mexico DUI offense and are worried about the impact it could have on your life, contact one of the experienced criminal defense legal team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We understand that pending DUI charges can have an enormous impact on your life. We promise to take your case as seriously as you do. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense legal team in Albuquerque, call us today. You can also reach us through our online form.