The Many Consequences of Drinking and Driving: Insurance and BeyondJanuary 24, 2013
Everyone knows drinking and driving is dangerous, and simply a bad idea. And yet every year lives are lost and millions of dollars in damage is done due to drivers who disregarded the warnings. Getting behind the wheel when you have been drinking puts your life in danger as well as the lives of everyone in your car and on the road. But even if you aren’t involved in an accident, there are serious consequences if you are caught drinking and driving.
The Legal Consequences of Drinking and Driving.
Drinking and driving is a serious offence that is punishable by law. The level of legal trouble you will find yourself in if you are caught behind the wheel while intoxicated depends on the circumstances. If you are pulled over or caught by a checkpoint and fail a breathalyzer, you will likely face a fine, suspension of your license, and impounding of your vehicle. Although the laws vary from province to province, these are common consequences of a first-time offence.
If you are not on your first offence, or if there has been an accident as a result of your actions, the consequences are much more severe. You could face much steeper fines, a longer suspension of your license, and even jail time. A drinking and driving conviction will result in demerit points on your license as well, which will impact your record for several years.
Drinking and Driving and Your Insurance.
When you are convicted of a drinking and driving offence, it will show up on your driving record, and your insurance company will have access to that information. That means that your insurance rates will increase on your renewal in accordance with the insurance company’s policies. Insurance Companies are different in how they handle drinking and driving charges, but all treat it as a serious violation and could mean a large increase in premiums and likely the cancellation of your policy.
When looking for car insurance quotes, you may be denied with some insurance companies if you’re convicted.
If you already have a ticket or an at-fault accident on your record, the rate increase for the drinking and driving offence will be compounded with that. This means you will be paying an even higher rate due to multiple marks against your driving record.
If you have had more than one drinking and driving offence, the consequences for your insurance rates will be even more serious. In fact, drivers with multiple problems on their driving records will sometimes face non-renewal. This means that the insurance company has determined that you no longer qualify for a policy under their guidelines and will not allow you to renew your policy. Drivers who are non-renewed will likely need to seek a high-risk insurance company to provide coverage.
The Long-Term Impact.
A drinking and driving violation will impact your insurance rates for up to six years, depending on the insurance company’s policies. If it is combined with other offences, such as an at-fault accident – especially one involving injuries – the cost will be higher and the length of time for which you will pay can be longer. If you are forced to seek a high-risk policy, it could be a longer period of time before you are able to graduate back to a standard policy and qualify for the best available rates. Being non-renewed will result in the loss of any longevity discounts you may have with your insurance company as well.
In some cases, if you have been involved in a serious accident while impaired, you could find yourself facing a lawsuit and paying out of pocket should the judgment against you exceed the limits of your insurance policy. The results of such a suit could impact your life for many years to come.
Of course, the greatest risk of drinking and driving is the possibility that someone could lose their life. Being responsible for the death of another person is something that you will have to live with, and simply isn’t worth the risk.
The consequences of drinking and driving can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Even a few drinks can be enough to impair judgment and to place you over the legal limit in your province. Avoid having anything at all to drink if you plan to drive, and arrange for a designated driver or another way home if you do plan to drink. The cost of making the wrong decision in this case is simply far too high.