Your Insurance Policy and DWI Laws: What You Need To Know

Getting charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious and costly offense and can often affect your insurance coverage and rates. In addition, heavy fines, revocation of your license, and potential jail time, are all severe consequences to driving while intoxicated.

What Does Insurance Cover?

Liability Insurance

You are required to carry liability insurance when you register a vehicle. A liability insurance policy protects you from the risk of being sued and held liable for injury you may cause to another person, or damage to their property. These policies cover the medical expenses and property repair costs of the injured party, even if the injury or damage was the result of a DWI.

Liability insurance does not apply to damages to your own vehicle, or to any medical expenses you may incur from an accident. It also does not cover court costs or other expenses that you may incur as a result of breaking the law.

Comprehensive and Collision Insurance

Depending on whether you have a lien against your vehicle, both comprehensive and collision insurance may be optional coverages for you. They are used to cover damages to your vehicle from incidents such as collisions, theft, weather and vandalism. If you are charged with a DWI in NYS, damage to your vehicle may or may not be covered.

What are the Consequences of a DWI?

Insurance Consequences

While your insurance carrier can’t cancel your coverage during your policy period, they can cancel your policy at your next renewal. Regardless, your insurance rates will increase as you are now automatically considered high-risk. You may be faced with finding an insurance company that is willing to accept a driver with a DWI record, and your rates will likely be higher for a minimum of 3 years.

Legal Consequences

The consequences of being charged with a DWI or DWAI in New York State include large fines, license revocation, increased insurance costs, legal fees, and possible jail time. The minimum fine for a first offense is $500. Your license will be revoked for at least 6 months and the offense will remain on your driving record for at least 3 years, and your criminal record forever.

Leandra’s Law

Under Leandra’s Law, adults charged with a DUI or DWI with a minor under the age of 16 in the car face felony charges, automatic license suspension, and up to 4 years in state prison.

Adults who cause injury to a child under the age of 16 while driving intoxicated or drug impaired, face felony charges and up to 15 years in state prison. If the incident results in the death of a child under 16 you will face up to 25 years in state prison. In addition, if you are the parent or guardian of the injured or deceased child, you will be reported to the State Registry of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

Zero Tolerance Law

This law makes it illegal for an underage driver (under age 21) to have consumed any alcohol. If you are under the age of 21 and are determined to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) between .02 to .07 percent, will face either an administrative hearing or a criminal court hearing. Your license will be suspended for a minimum of 6 months and you will be charged a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 suspension termination fee. If you incur an additional offense, your license will be revoked for 1 year or until you reach the age of 21, whichever is longer. You will also pay additional penalty fees.

This article is intended to be a summary only. If you have an accident while under the influence, there are many other possible restrictions which could limit your insurance coverage. You should speak with your insurance agent for specific details related to your policy.

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