Does Auto Insurance Cover Drunk Driving in Oregon and Washington?

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous to everyone on the roadway. Law enforcement officers in both Oregon and Washington take drunk driving seriously. Those caught doing so can face severe penalties, including jail time and fines.

However, many people wonder if drunk driving is also covered by auto insurance. What happens if a drunk driver causes a car accident? Can victims of drunk driving accidents count on the negligent driver’s insurance company to cover their losses?

Insurance will cover these expenses

In both Washington and Oregon, standard car insurance policies cover drunk driving incidents. The at-fault driver’s company will treat these cases similar to the way they treat other accidents that are caused by driver negligence.

You may have to fight to secure compensation

Just because you were struck by a drunk driver does not mean that the insurance company of the driver will make it easy to secure compensation. Just like any other accident case, you need to be aware that the goal of any insurance company is to pay as little as possible in a payout.

In order to obtain a settlement after being struck by a drunk driver, you will still have to prove that the driver was drunk and that the accident was caused due to their drunkenness. This means that you, preferably with the help of an experienced attorney, need to gather all evidence necessary to prove what happened. This can include:

  • Obtaining the police report. This will be important because it will contain notes stating that the other driver was at fault, or at least mostly at fault, in the incident. If the driver was arrested for DUI, this will offer further proof that the driver was negligent in the incident.
  • Speaking to eyewitnesses who may have seen the incident of who were aware that the driver was intoxicated.
  • Obtaining any video or photographic evidence of the crash. This can include surveillance footage from nearby buildings, traffic cameras, and photographs taken after the crash.

You will need to obtain copies of your medical records to show that you were injured and the costs of treatment. It may be necessary for you and your attorney to secure help from medical and economic experts to properly calculate your total losses as well as future costs you may incur due to your injuries.

It is entirely possible that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to blame you for the accident, even if their client was impaired at the time of the crash. Your attorney will know how to counter this with evidence to the contrary.

Those with drunk driving convictions pay more for insurance

When someone is convicted of a DUI, that does not mean that they will never be able to drive again. Often, a person with a DUI charge that has not been resolved is allowed to continue to drive until the case is concluded. Even those with a conviction will be able to drive again (sometimes after a period of license suspension). They will end up paying more for insurance though. When a person is convicted of DUI, they will be required to obtain and pay for SR22 insurance. On average, a person’s premiums will go up 72% after a DUI conviction. Most states require drivers to carry SR22 insurance for a period of three years after a conviction.