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What You Need to Know About SR-22 Insurance After a DUI Arrest in New Jersey

April 30, 2024 | Posted In Drunk Driving

When you are convicted of driving under the Influence (DUI) in New Jersey, the penalties imposed in court are not the only consequences of your conviction. You will face various consequences out of court as well, including a substantial increase in your auto insurance premiums. These costs alone can make it worth hiring an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer to represent you.

After a DUI conviction in New Jersey, your auto insurance rate could increase by 94 percent or more. This means that your insurance rate could effectively double, and your new rate will typically apply for three years. After three years, your rate will start to go down, but it will still take several additional years for it to get back to normal—provided that you don’t get another DUI or get arrested for another traffic offense that adds points to your record.

Understanding How a DUI Affects Your Auto Insurance Rate in New Jersey

In many states, the auto insurance you must buy after a DUI conviction is known as SR-22 insurance. Technically, this is still your regular insurance—you are just paying more for the same coverage—and you must have your insurance company send an SR-22 form to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have your driver’s license reinstated.

New Jersey doesn’t currently use the SR-22 form. But, practically, the insurance-related consequences of a DUI conviction in New Jersey are the same. Your insurance company is still going to increase your monthly (or semi-annual or annual) premiums, and you will still need proof of coverage to maintain your vehicle registration. If you stop paying for auto insurance (or if you cannot afford to pay your new premiums), you will not be able to legally drive your vehicle.

If you get a DUI in another state as a New Jersey resident, you will need to comply with that state’s SR-22 requirement (if any) in order to restore your driving privileges.

Options for Avoiding an Insurance Rate Increase Due to a DUI Conviction

With this in mind, what can you do to avoid a substantial auto insurance rate increase as the result of a DUI conviction? In New Jersey, you have two main options:

1. Fighting Your DUI in Court

Your first option is to fight your DUI in court. If you can avoid a conviction, you will not have to face any costs or other penalties.

From asserting your constitutional rights to challenging the reliability of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading, there are several ways to fight a DUI charge in New Jersey. An experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer will be able to evaluate the facts of your case to determine what defenses you have available, and then your lawyer will be able to assert these defenses on your behalf. Some examples of potential defenses to DUI charges in New Jersey include:

  • Unlawful traffic stop
  • Unreliable BAC reading
  • Alternate explanation for a high BAC
  • Unreliable field sobriety test (FST) results
  • Unlawful arrest
  • Failure to read your Miranda rights
  • Insufficient evidence of guilt (failure to meet the prosecution’s burden of proof)

When defending against a DUI charge in New Jersey, it is important to keep in mind that there are two ways prosecutors can establish guilt. While prosecutors can establish guilt based on a BAC that is over the legal limit, they can also establish guilt based on evidence of actual impairment. They do not need to prove both. Thus, even if you have grounds to challenge your breathalyzer test result, this may not be enough to protect you if prosecutors have other evidence that you were drunk behind the wheel.

2. Negotiating a Plea Bargain

If avoiding a conviction at trial is unlikely, then your best option may be to negotiate a plea bargain. A new law allows plea bargaining in New Jersey DUI cases as of 2024. Typically, plea bargaining a New Jersey DUI case will result in a conviction for reckless driving (commonly referred to as a “wet reckless.” While a reckless driving conviction will still increase your auto insurance premiums, the increase will not be nearly as significant as the increase for a DUI.

Is It Worth Fighting Your DUI to Avoid an Increase in Your Auto Insurance Rate?

According to, the average monthly insurance premium for minimum coverage is $65. This equates to $780 per year. If you pay the average and your insurance rate doubles as a result of a DUI, this will mean paying an additional $2,340 over three years—on top of the fines and surcharges of $1000 per year, you will have to pay to the State of New Jersey. Since your insurance rate will not return to normal right away after three years, the total insurance cost of your DUI will be even greater, and if you pay for more than minimum coverage, it will be even greater still. Your age, accident history, any aggravating factors in your DUI case and various other factors can further increase your insurance costs as well.

This means that it is well worth fighting your DUI in New Jersey based on the direct financial costs alone. But these are not the only costs involved. A DUI conviction can lead to jail time in some cases, and with a DUI on your record, you could face academic, career, immigration, housing and other consequences as well. To be clear, DUI convictions in New Jersey can never be expunged, can cause problems with an individual’s existing professional licensing (or issues with obtaining licensing for a profession), and can cause one to lose a job or lose the ability to advance or obtain a job. Additionally, such convictions can impact one’s ability to coach, mentor, and obtain other types of insurance. An experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer can help you avoid unnecessary consequences—and, to make an informed decision about hiring a lawyer, you can get started with a free, no-obligation consultation.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer

Are you facing a DUI charge in New Jersey? If so, we can help, and we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information about the costs you are facing and the defenses you have available. To discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer as soon as possible, call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.

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