THE FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF YOUR DRIVING RECORD

Your first thought upon being cited for a traffic violation is likely to be “How much will this cost?” Depending on the severity of the violation, the fine you pay may be only a small part of the total cost of having a less-than-perfect driving record

Because the coverage included in your group’s U.S. Legal Services legal insurance plan may vary, please check with your group’s administrator for specific benefit details.

Most drivers are aware that a non-moving traffic violation may cause their insurance companies to raise their premiums, but they don’t expect the financial impact to go much beyond that. If, however, there are serious traffic violations on your record — such as reckless driving or a DUI — or repeated offenses, the effects can be widespread. Here are some areas of your life and finances that can be affected:

Auto insurance rates

A charge of reckless driving or a DUI can cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket. According to Bankrate.com, the average premium increase after a DUI is 93 percent, while other sources estimate that figure can be as high as 300 percent. Being found guilty of DUI may even result in your losing auto insurance coverage altogether.

Your driving record can even affect your spouse when it comes to insurance rates. Marriage can have a positive effect on car insurance rates when both partners have good driving records, such as a multiple-car discount for a single household. This can work against you, though, if one of you has a bad record and your insurance company bases your rate on the household rather than the individuals. 

Life insurance rates

A DUI or very poor driving record may put you in a less-favorable rate tier for life insurance. This could cost several hundred dollars per year, or thousands over the life of the policy.

License suspension

If you lose your license, you will, of course, need to find other ways to get where you need to go. Often, this means paying for a bus, cab, or driving service. Meanwhile, you’ll probably still be making payments on a car you cannot drive (and paying for auto insurance as well).

Think twice before taking your chances on driving with a suspended license, because that can set off a cascade of problems, including:

  • Being placed in a “high-risk” driver category by your insurance provider
  • Being subjected to significant fines
  • Having your car impounded
  • Having to pay court costs
  • Being sentenced to jail time

Job loss or limitations

If you make your living as a delivery driver or otherwise spend your workday behind the wheel, a serious traffic violation or generally poor driving record may result in the loss of your job. Employers may find insurance too expensive to cover you, even if you just have a company car at your disposal.

Some career choices may be out of reach if you have a DUI on your record, such as law enforcement, emergency response, aviation, or government positions. Companies in other types of industries may simply decline to hire you if a DUI is found during a background check.

Legal insurance can help

In many cases, legal representation can help you reach more positive outcomes if you’ve been cited for a driving-related infraction. Group legal insurance plans, including our Family Defender™ and CDL Defender™, may offer legal assistance with traffic violations, depending upon the specifics of your group’s plan. Legal services may include the restoration of driving privileges, defense for a first-offense DUI, license suspension issues, and more.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. Each situation and matter is unique and should be discussed with a U.S. Legal Services network attorney.