Can a marijuana possession conviction in California affect my auto insurance?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 3, 2020

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A straight conviction for marijuana possession in California will not likely affect your California auto insurance. California does not require the automatic suspension of your driver’s license as some states do for drug convictions, so a marijuana possession conviction is not likely to affect your auto insurance. Car insurance companies typically only raise your rates for convictions related to traffic offenses. However, some situations related to marijuana possession could affect your auto insurance rates and coverage.

Marijuana Possession and California Auto Insurance

The first major area related to marijuana possession and California auto insurance rates is how and where you possessed the marijuana. Even though not strictly enforced, if you were possessing marijuana in your vehicle, with no intent to distribute, then you were technically using your vehicle to aid in the “possession” of the marijuana. Although there was no intent to distribute, your license can be suspended if there is a finding that your vehicle is related to the commission, i.e. containing, of the offense of marijuana possession.

A more frequent scenario is when someone is driving while under the influence of marijuana. This is a more direct use of a vehicle in relation to the possession of marijuana, and this is more likely to result in a suspension of your license. If you do not have a valid driver’s license, some auto insurance companies will refuse or cancel auto coverage.

DUI and California Auto Insurance Rates

In addition to suspension issues, if you are convicted of driving while under the influence of marijuana, the rates for your auto insurance will probably increase substantially. How much will depend on your prior criminal history, driving history, and your auto insurance company. Even though auto insurance companies are subject to state regulations, how much to charge is a contractual agreement between you and the carrier.

Further, your criminal history in general can impact your auto insurance rates. If you have already been convicted for driving while under the influence of marijuana and are subsequently and repeatedly convicted for possession of marijuana, some carriers may view you as a greater risk, because you do not appear to be handling your addiction issues. Your auto insurance carrier can, therefore, adjust their risk by charging you a higher premium.

Getting Help

Every conviction, even those for marijuana possession, tends to have several collateral consequences, including increased auto insurance rates. Before you enter a plea, consult with criminal attorney in your area to learn about your options and liability for a possession of marijuana charge.

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