DUI in California? Get ReadyTo Pay Some Serious Insurance

After you’re convicted of a DUI, life is never the same. Even if you are fortunate enough to escape injury, and hurt no one else; even if your car is intact; even if your fine is low and you avoid prison, there is another long-term punishment you must endure, one not levied by the courts or the DMV.

Your car insurance will go up. That’s a promise.4-expensive-cities-california

car-insuranceWhether it will skyrocket, or just take a moderate hit, depends on where you live. But Californians beware: your cities are among those in which the rate rises can be crushing.

Recently Nerdwallet compiled data from NHTSA and the 2010 U.S. Census to find out a couple of things:

  • Which were the most dangerous cities for fatal DUI crashes, and
  • In which cities do drivers endure the largest insurance hikes after a DUI?

To determine danger, they listed 150 American cities according to the highest number of per capita fatal DUI crashes. San Bernadino took that dubious honor, with .4368 fatalities per 1,000 residents. Riverside, Fresno and Sacramento were also in the top 10. No other state had more than one city in the top ten list.

Surprisingly or not, insurance rates after a DUI go up markedly after a DUI in San Bernadino: about 135 percent. Compare this with Mobile, Alabama (number 2 on the danger list), in which insurance rises about 46% after a DUI. In fact, the four California cities in the top 10 average a rate rise of around 136 percent, versus one of around 50 percent for the other six.

In general, a DUI is extremely bad for your budget in any California city among the 150 on the list; only North Carolina imposes larger hikes, due to their driver points system, which mandates stiff increases after DUIs.

The question, then, is: do higher insurance rates after a DUI conviction help deter drunk drivers? Or does it have no effect on driver behavior, and merely serve to help insurance companies balance their books?

Sadly, the evidence points to the latter, at least as far as this analysis goes. Says Nerdwallet: At the national level, we found no correlation between cities with high rates of fatal crashes involving alcohol and cities where drivers experience steep car insurance increases after they receive DUIs.

Whatever it takes to reduce drunk driving, it appears that high insurance rates won’t solve the problem.