Ignition Interlock Devices and Uninsured Drivers in Michigan

ignition interlock deviceUninsured drivers cost everyone, but, perhaps it is insured motorists who have to bear the burden the most. Because of the burden on law-abiding citizens with insurance (including “uninsured motorist insurance”), some states have harsher penalties for driving uninsured than others. Michigan is one of those states where the cost of being uninsured is far greater than the cost of minimum coverage auto insurance.

As DUI and other alcohol-related convictions raise insurance premiums, the inability to afford an automobile insurance policy is common in Michigan, especially if there are drunk driving convictions present. Not only does a DUI conviction raise the cost of insurance, but, the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device can raise the overall costs of the criminal conviction. Additionally, the costs associated with the conviction (ignition interlock device, insurance, court costs, etc.) may prevent an offender from restoring driving privileges. With suspended or revoked driving privileges due to a DUI conviction, and without an ignition interlock device installed, the offender may not even be able to obtain insurance. Unfortunately, that same offender may still operate a vehicle illegally, without insurance, and perhaps under the influence of alcohol.

In Michigan, uninsured drivers:

  • Cannot sue for pain and suffering damages.
  • Must pay for any personal medical bills related to the accident and must also pay for any personal vehicle damage.
  • Will not be reimbursed for lost wages.
  • Can be sued and held personally accountable for another person’s pain and suffering damages as well as medical bills, lost wages, and damage to the other person’s car.
  • Can be fined between 200 and 500 dollars, or even have a driver’s license suspended or revoked.
  • May be charged with a misdemeanor offense.

Because of the high costs associated with “high risk” auto insurance, many drivers believe it is possible to drive without insurance. Unfortunately, these risky drivers may also have multiple drunk driving conviction, ignition interlock devices installed on vehicles, or just not care about the lives at risk due to poor judgment.  In Michigan, tough laws on uninsured motorists help protect everyone from the financial, and sometimes tragic, results of high risk drivers and convicted DUI offenders.

 

DUIs and Your Insurance

bigstock-Insurance-Policy-24226832A person who has been convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense has a long road to recovery, in terms of finances, legal issues and other personal considerations. One of these concerns that may have a lasting impact is what a DUI or DWI can do to an offender’s auto insurance. Since car insurance is vital to the financial security of everyone on the road, insurance companies take any alcohol-related incident very seriously and the person who is convicted of the crime certainly pays the price.

A DUI or DWI conviction is a loud signal to insurance companies that a person is an unsafe driver. Since driving while intoxicated is a risky behavior and affects the lives and property of anyone else on the road, car insurance companies are very quick to impose higher fees and premiums on the offenders. The state in which the conviction occurred may also require an offender have a “proof of financial responsibility form” on file with the department of motor vehicles.  This form is typically filed by the auto insurance company and will state that the driver is carrying the required amount of car insurance for the state. For those who are deemed uninsurable by insurance companies due to prior convictions or other risky driving behaviors, the inability to obtain these documents (typically referred to as SR-22, FR-19 or FR-44) will cause the person’s license to remain suspended.

Auto insurance can certainly be affected by any sort of DUI or DWI conviction, and the more convictions that a person has, the less likely he or she will be trusted to be able to make safe driving decisions. For anyone who has been convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense, the effect on insurance premiums is just one more financial burden to bear. When looking at all of the ways that drunk driving can impact the driver’s life, from higher insurance premiums, court fees, jail time and even the installation of an ignition interlock system, it just makes more sense to drive sober.

SR-22 and FR-44

SR-22 and FR-44Getting caught drinking and driving can result in a lot of problems. The vehicle of the offender may be confiscated; there may also be jail time, fines, or a court order to install an ignition interlock device on every vehicle operated by the individual. Most people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) face suspension of their driver’s license and must take certain actions before it can be reinstated. DUI convictions involve special restricted driver’s licenses when ignition interlock devices are ordered and, generally, in order to receive a restricted license, the offender must prove financial responsibility.

Part of proving to the state that an offender is financially responsible to drive, again, is obtaining an SR-22 and FR-44. Both are certificates provided by insurance companies to inform the state government that the driver has auto insurance coverage in a sufficient amount. People who are ordered to get SR-22 and FR-44 certificates will have to pay more than other drivers due to their criminal driving behavior in the past.

These two certificates perform a similar purpose, but reflect a difference in offense. An SR-22 is required for someone who has broken a variety of driving laws, while an FR-44 indicates the driver not only broke a law but caused an injury in the process. An offender who must file an FR-44 certificate will need to pay double the state’s minimum insurance requirements. Currently, the FR-44 is only used in Virginia and Florida.

Filing an SR-22 usually does not cost a lot of money, but the cost of the required insurance can be hefty. Depending upon the state and the individual’s DUI history, an SR-22 certificate may need to be filed anywhere from three years to the rest of the offender’s life. The individual does not need to own a vehicle to be placed under this restriction. There are special insurance plans for offenders who need to file an SR-22 but do not own their own vehicle. This is applies to both the SR-22 and FR-44.

Only eight states do not have an SR-22 requirement. They are: North Carolina, New York, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Kentucky. All other states not only have an SR-22 certificate system in place, but they may also have specialized versions, such as the FR-44 and the SR-22A. The SR-22A differs from the regular SR-22 in that, with it, the offender must pay a full six months in advance. These documents are important for the security of others on the road, however, are only one aspect of the costs of a DUI that make drinking and driving an unwise decision.

Dram Shop Liability Laws

A dram shop is a legal term in the United States which refers to a bar or another establishment where alcoholic beverages are served and/or sold.  Originally liquor was served by the ‘dram’, a liquid measurement equivalent to roughly 1/8 of a fluid ounce.  Thus, the term ‘dram shop’ was born.

Dram Shop Liability LawsDram shop liability laws are laws which state that owners of a bar or hosts of a party who serves alcoholic beverages can be held legally responsible for what their patrons/guests do after they’ve been drinking.  For example, a person injured by an intoxicated person through a motor vehicle accident or even a bar fight, can sue establishments contributing to that person’s intoxication.

Dram shop liability laws, like DUI laws, vary from state to state. There are no dram shop laws in seven states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota or Virginia), while in Alabama, Alaska and Michigan, the liability is limited to selling alcohol to minors or known alcoholics.  The laws in most other states cover serving people who are intoxicated.

Here’s a list of specific laws state by state: http://www.madd.org/laws/law-overview/Dram_Shop_Overview.pdf

Because bar owners are liable, to varying degrees, for the actions of their patrons consuming alcohol, many states require that bars carry liquor liability insurance in addition to general liability coverage.  However, these policies do not cover owners who serve minors and/or if they serve someone who is clearly drunk.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), dram shop liability laws are beneficial by helping to reduce alcohol-related crashes, increasing publicity of the impacts of over-serving and decreasing excessive and illegal consumption.  2001 research found that dram shop liability laws have decreased fatal motor vehicle crashes by 5.8 percent.

Contact an attorney for more information on dram shop liability laws in your state.

SR-22 and You

SR-22 is a motor vehicle insurance document required by a court and/or DMV office which shows proof of financial responsibility.  The SR-22 documentation is kept on file at the Department of Licensing, Public Safety, or Motor Vehicle, depending on the state.  The ‘SR’ in SR-22 stands for ‘Safety Responsibility’.

A court or MDV office may require a driver to obtain an SR-22 document in order to reinstate any driving privileges after a DUI.  An SR-22 document may also be required:
SR-22 and You

  • after an at-fault car accident
  • after multiple traffic violations in a short period of time
  • after driving without a license
  • after driving with a suspended license

An SR-22, which can be required for up to 5 years for a first-time DUI, is state-specific and what is required in one state may not be required in another. In some states repeat DUIs can require that the SR-22 policy be carried for life!  Also, in some states, there is a fee to file the SR-22 document.

Even if you do not own a vehicle, you can still be required to obtain a non-owner SR-22 insurance document to be eligible to drive. If you allow your SR-22 documentation to expire, your license will be suspended.

So, what’s the big deal about an SR-22 document? Well, the big deal is that if you are required to have the SR-22 document, your insurance rates typically double, triple or even quadruple for as long as you have the SR-22 in place.  This is because people who are required to have an SR-22 are generally high-risk drivers.  High-risk drivers usually need to carry high-risk insurance or ‘non-standard’ auto insurance. Many major insurance carriers only carry standard insurance policies, so once you need non-standard insurance, your current policy will be cancelled and you will need to obtain a non-standard policy with a new company.

All states in the United States have SR-22 liability insurance document requirements with the exception of Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina.

For more information on SR-22 documentation, contact your auto insurance provider.

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