Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.
That last drink at happy hour can cost more than you ever imagined if you end up with a DUI. Driving under the influence is a serious offense and the financial repercussions can follow you for years.
There are legal and insurance consequences to deal with after an impaired driving conviction. The penalties the court can impose vary widely by state, but typically include fines, license suspension, and/or jail time.
Your auto insurance company will also take notice, and you will usually see an increase in your insurance premiums at renewal time. According to Forbes Advisor analysis, the national average auto insurance rate increase for drivers with a DUI is 74%. This huge rate increase translates to an extra $1,470 per year for auto insurance. For comparison, the average rate increase after a speeding ticket is only 21% and the rate increase after an accident is 41%.
How does a DUI affect car insurance?
Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), and operating under the influence (YES) can mean something different or can be used interchangeably, depending on state laws. But what auto insurance companies see with one is that you are a high-risk driver.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination and reaction times. Without having your sharp skills behind the wheel, you are more likely to be involved in an accident, which makes car insurance companies nervous about potential compensation.
The result is fares much higher than you would pay with a clean driving record.
Looking at the average annual rate increase for all 50 states, we found that Florida drivers have the lowest average increase of 33% after an impaired driving conviction. Meanwhile, another east coast state, North Carolina, has the highest average rate hike of 314%, which is actually lower than the state’s recommended 340% increase under of its driver safety incentive plan.
Average auto insurance rate increases by state after a DUI
How Long Will a DUI Affect My Auto Insurance Rates?
Insurance companies review your driving record before renewal time and when you purchase a policy. It’s an immediate red flag if the car insurance company spots a DUI, DWI, or YES.
Because a DUI is a major offense in the eyes of insurance companies, they can charge you a high surcharge (raised rates) and keep your rates high for typically three to five years.
How long your rates will stay high depends on a few variables. The first is how long a DUI stays on your driving record, because having the DUI on your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) triggers the surcharge.
Next is how long your state’s insurance laws allow a DUI to raise rates. For example, in North Carolina, insurance companies can look back three years, but Massachusetts allows five years.
But a DUI could affect your rates longer than the surcharge period. For example, in California, the DUI surcharge may be gone, but you are not eligible for a 20% good driver rebate until 10 years after a DUI.
How can I lower my auto insurance rates after a DUI?
Here are ways to find lower rates, even with a DUI on your record:
- Ask for discounts. You may have lost a good driver’s discount, but you can still find discounted auto insurance by paying in full, insuring multiple vehicles, or bundling home and auto policies. Don’t be afraid to ask your insurance agent what discounts you qualify for to get the best rate possible.
- Show that you are a safe driver. One way to restore confidence with insurance companies is to show it was a one-time incident and keep your record clear of any traffic violations, especially another DUI. This will take time, but will result in a return to a lower level of risk. You can also try usage-based insurance. It will monitor your driving behavior, like speed and braking, and if you score well, you could receive some decent discounts.
- Compare the prices. Shopping around with multiple insurance companies to compare car insurance quotes is your best bet for saving money. Once your current company has increased your rates due to the DUI, compare that premium to others to find the cheapest rates.
These tips can be used continuously. You can ask each renewal for additional discounts you may be eligible for and consider usage-based programs if you haven’t tried one yet.
Also, it’s worth shopping around with other companies at least once a year to see if you can find better rates. Even though your supplement may last for a while, some companies keep a stable supplement while others decrease it over time.
For example, some car insurance providers will maintain a constant surcharge of, say, 45% each year for five years, while another may start at 45% but drop to 30% in the third year and continue to reduce the surcharge until until he disappears. from the fifth year.
Increase in car insurance rates by company after a DUI
We looked at DUI insurance premiums among 10 of the top auto insurance companies and found that rate increases ranged from 28% with Progressive to 156% for Geico.
It is essential to look at the total premium you will pay, not just the surcharge. For example, State Farm has a 38% increase after a DUI but the cheapest overall rate of $1,942. That’s nearly $400 less than Progressive, which had the lowest percentage increase, and $1,440 less than Allstate, which had the most expensive DUI insurance premium.
What is an SR-22?
If you are convicted of a DUI, the court or the state may require you to purchase SR-22 insurance. An SR-22 is not an insurance policy but a document that insurance companies provide to verify that a driver has certain auto insurance coverages in place.
States might require it after a major driving violation, such as a DUI, because they find you a high-risk driver and want proof that you have the minimum required auto insurance coverages. If you cancel coverage for any reason, the insurance company will notify the state and you will receive penalties, such as license suspension.
In Virginia and Florida, if you have a DUI, you must obtain an FR-44, which is essentially the same as an SR-22 but requires higher car insurance limits.
With the SR-22 or FR-44, you will pay an application fee of approximately $20 to your car insurance company. If your insurer doesn’t offer this service, you’ll need to buy one that does – and with a relatively good rate – and then switch insurance providers.
Can insurance rates go up if you didn’t cause an accident but had a DUI?
Even if you did not cause an accident while driving while impaired, you will see an increase in the rate once the DUI appears on your motor vehicle record and you renew your policy or purchase a new one.
The insurance company basically takes into account the possibility that you will drive drunk again and they will have to pay compensation.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drivers with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% (the legal limit in all states except Utah where it is 0.05%) or more are about four times more likely to be in an accident than drivers with zero blood alcohol content. If a driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.15% or higher, NHTSA has found that they are about 12 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Statistics like this send a message to auto insurance companies that drunk or impaired drivers pose a lot of risk when behind the wheel. As a result, you’ll end up paying much higher rates – on average 74% higher – for typically the next three to five years.