The holiday party season is well on its way, and with it, come the holiday campaigns against drinking and driving; R.I.D.E police spot checks, Project Red Ribbon from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Operation Red Nose supported by the insurance industry's own Insurance Bureau of Canada to name just a few.Most of us know the reasons not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol but do you know how, and for how long, drinking and driving affects your car insurance-most of us don't.
The sobering facts about driving impaired on your auto insurance
Consider the following scenario adapted from Transport Canada's website. Do you recognize what will likely affect your auto insurance as a first-time offender?
You're pulled over by the police and asked to provide a breath sample. So you do and you fail your breathalyzer. You're arrested and your car is towed away. At the police station you're tested again, and still fail-so you're charged with having a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit and your licence is suspended for 90 days. Your day in court arrives, and you're found guilty. Because you're a first-time offender, you pay a fine (at minimum $600) and are prohibited from driving for one year; which is further supported by your province's licensing office when they suspend your licence for 12 months.
- Your presumably 'good' driving record is automatically wiped out after an impaired conviction and you essentially have to start over. Now, in order to get the type of rates you were used to pre-conviction, you'll have to meet your insurer's eligibility requirements, and this could take years of incident-free driving.
- Impaired convictions and suspensions remain on your driving record for 3 years and can affect your insurance rates for up to 6 years.
Online auto insurance quotes were quickly obtained at www.kanetix.ca for a 35-year old individual living in Toronto to see what happens. We'll name her Janet. It could quite possibly scare you sober!
After finally getting her licence back from a year-long suspension after her conviction, the lowest quote Janet got online is $4,856 more than the quote she would have received with a clean driving and insurance history. Two years after the fact is no better, because it too comes in at $4,856 more. After three years have passed, Janet will finally see a somewhat better quote at a mere $2,770 more. Year four is a bargain at $2,010 more, and finally year five it's only $1,624 more. It's only at year six that Janet can finally get quotes that match her pre-conviction and suspension rates. In our scenario, Janet is looking at paying an EXTRA $16,116 in auto insurance premiums! Surely taking a taxi is cheaper?