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: Jul 10, 2020

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The least you need to know…

  • A drunk driving conviction doesn’t automatically raise your car insurance rates.
  • A conviction would likely result in alerting your car insurance company, who will not be allowed to raise your rates immediately.
  • Most car insurers will raise your rates at the next policy renewal after a DUI.
  • You may be able to work with your insurance company or the state to mitigate the penalties and the increase in your car insurance rates.

Will car insurance rates increase after a DUI? If you are convicted of drunk driving, your auto insurance company can raise your auto insurance rates. When most people are arrested for drunk driving, they are usually concerned about not going to jail. Unfortunately, that is just the first concern. Even though higher insurance rates are not a statutory punishment (like a fine or jail time), car insurance for DUI offenders can increase dramatically.

Whether or not your insurance rates will increase after a DUI depends on the rules in your state, your prior relationship with your auto insurance company, the type of conviction you received, and the level of your conviction. 

Before you enter a plea of guilty to a drunk driving offense, you may want to review your situation with a drunk driving lawyer near you. You can begin your search for an experienced attorney by entering your ZIP code into our search tool above.

Frequently Asked Questions: DUI and Insurance Rates

How do insurance companies find out about DUIs?

In general, an insurance company will be notified of a DUI only if your license is suspended or revoked as a result or if you are convicted. The other primary way that insurers find out about a DUI is by fulfilling an SR-22 requirement — find out more about SR-22’s below.

What happens to car insurance after a DUI?

Almost all car insurance providers will charge higher rates to drivers after a DUI, and car insurance after a DUI accident can be even more expensive.

The table below shows the average rates for car insurance based on drivers with a clean record, an accident, and a DUI. You’ll see how much auto insurance goes up after a DUI compared to other blemishes on your record.

Company Clean Record Rate One DUI Rate One Accident Rate One Speeding Ticket Rate
GEICO $2,145.96 $3,192.77 $4,875.87 $2,645.43
State Farm $2,821.18 $3,396.01 $3,636.80 $3,186.01
Nationwide $2,746.18 $3,396.95 $4,543.20 $3,113.68
Progressive $3,393.09 $4,777.04 $3,969.65 $4,002.28
Farmers $3,460.60 $4,518.73 $4,718.75 $4,079.01
Allstate $3,819.90 $4,987.68 $6,260.73 $4,483.51

As you can see, GEICO DUI rate increases to more than twice the average rate for a driver with a clean record.

On the other hand, Progressive DUI insurance rates are much lower than Nationwide or GEICO even though Progressive’s rates are higher, on average than both companies if you have a clean driving record. 

Can I get auto insurance with a DUI?

Getting auto insurance after a DUI or even after several is possible, though you may need an SR-22 in order to be permitted to drive by your state depending on the severity of the incidents.

Does a DUI affect life insurance rates?

Not only do companies typically charge more to applicants who have recent DUIs, but they may not even offer policies to DUI offenders at all. Life insurers regularly deny coverage to people with multiple recent DUIs because drunk driving is a risky and potentially deadly behavior.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that removing all drivers with Blood Alcohol Content higher than .08 from the roads would save more than 7,000 lives per year.

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Insurance Rate Increase Rules

An auto insurance policy is a contractual agreement. A company agrees to insure you for a certain rate, subject to certain conditions. In addition to your contractual provisions, some states place limits on when and how an insurance company can raise your rates. You may receive some protection from your state laws, but more likely in the form of notice. This means they will have to give you so many days to prepare for the rate hike. 

If you have been with the same auto insurance company for several years and have an ongoing relationship with your insurance agent, you may want to casually visit with them about the effect of a drunk driving conviction before you enter a plea. 

Your agent may be able to make some suggestions consistent with the auto insurance company’s guidelines that will keep you from being hit too hard, like pleading to a less serious charge.

There is no DUI insurance trick that will avoid any increase in rates, but your agent may have some advice for your specific situation.

How Auto Insurance Companies Treat Drunk Driving Convictions

How auto insurance companies will treat a drunk driving conviction with regard to auto insurance rates will depend on the type and level of the conviction. Technically, being placed on deferred adjudication is not a conviction. As long as you are on deferred adjudication, some auto insurance companies will not increase your rates as much.

The level of your drunk driving offense can also affect how high your auto insurance rates will be increased. If your drunk driving conviction was a felony, your rates are likely to go higher than a misdemeanor conviction because it shows a more serious problem with your driving abilities. If your auto insurance company is going to assume you at a higher risk, they are going to want higher premiums from you.

Alternatives to Drunk Driving Pleas

Whenever you are charged or arrested with any driving offense, you can expect your auto insurance rates to increase. However, you may be able to get creative with your defense attorney and plea to a different charge. 

For example, you may offer to pay a higher fine in exchange for the prosecutor allowing you to plea to a highway obstruction charge instead of a driving while intoxicated offense. If this is your first offense, you may be able to participate in a diversion court, where your drunk driving case is eventually dismissed if you comply with all of the program requirements.

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What is an SR-22? 

An SR-22 is an insurance document required by most states for high-risk drivers, including those arrested or convicted of a DUI.  It is sometimes called a financial responsibility certificate because it guarantees that the driver can pay future claims up to the state required limit. 

The driver’s insurance company files the SR-22 with the appropriate state department (for example, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the Department of Public Safety).  Even drivers who do not own a vehicle may be required to purchase SR-22 insurance.  And an insurance card or policy is not a substitute for the SR-22 form.   

SR-22 Requirements Differ By State

A majority of states require the filing of an SR-22.  But SR-22s are state-specific and the requirements in one state may not apply in another.  If a person moves out of state, the SR-22 must be maintained in the former state, even though they no longer reside there.  

States differ on how long a driver must maintain continuous SR-22 coverage. An SR-22 is required from your car insurance after a DUI in California, for example, only if you are having a license reinstated or have an interlock device installed. 

Because the SR-22 is designed to monitor problem drivers, the driver’s insurance company notifies the state department if coverage lapses or is canceled.  Enforcement action for canceled, terminated, or lapsed SR-22 coverage varies from state-to-state and may include driving privilege suspensions. 

Getting Help

Usually, your insurance company cannot immediately raise your rates after a DUI. If they find out about the DUI, they can give you notice that your rates will increase, often opting to raise your rate at the next renewal.

An attorney in your area that specializes in drunk driving violations can advise you of what programs are available and which will help keep your auto insurance rates from skyrocketing after a drunk driving conviction.  You can begin your search for a local attorney specializing in drunk driving by entering your ZIP code in our search tool below.

References:

  1. https://www.iihs.org/topics/alcohol-and-drugs#by-the-numbers
  2. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/educational-materials/driving-under-the-influence-ffdl-36/