Home Car insurance Car insurance after a DUI Car insurance after a DUI Written by: Penny Gusner Penny Gusner Penny is an expert on insurance procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has extensive knowledge of all major insurance lines -- auto, homeowners, life and health insurance. She has been answering consumers’ questions as an analyst for more than 15 years and has been featured in numerous major media outlets, including the Washington Post and Kiplinger’s. | Reviewed by: Michelle Megna Michelle Megna Michelle, the former editorial director, insurance, at QuinStreet, is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. Prior to joining QuinStreet, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News. | Updated on August 16, 2021 Why you should trust Insure.com Quality Verified At Insure.com, we are committed to providing honest and reliable information so that you can make the best financial decisions for you and your family. All of our content is written and reviewed by industry professionals and insurance experts. We maintain strict editorial independence from insurance companies to maintain editorial integrity, so our recommendations are unbiased and are based on a comprehensive list of criteria. Read the Spanish version: ¿Cómo afecta un DUI en tu seguro de auto? There’s no doubt about it: If you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’ll face challenges with your car insurance costs. No matter what you do, your auto insurance rates will increase when your insurer finds out. However, there are still ways to find affordable auto insurance quotes after your brush with the law. How much will a DUI affect my rates? A DUI conviction can increase your rates anywhere from 28 to 371 percent, depending on the circumstances, where you live and your insurer’s policies, among other factors. The average percentage hike is 80 percent ($1,163 more a year), according to Insure.com’s rate analysis. State Average rate Rate with DUI Percent increase Dollar increase Michigan $2,368 $8,268 249% $5,900 North Carolina $1,170 $5,508 371% $4,338 California $1,783 $5,093 186% $3,310 Hawaii $1,255 $3,866 208% $2,611 Arizona $1,399 $3,423 145% $2,024 New Jersey $1,419 $3,292 132% $1,873 Delaware $1,838 $3,326 81% $1,488 Georgia $1,815 $3,226 78% $1,411 Rhode Island $2,011 $3,380 68% $1,369 Florida $2,250 $3,614 61% $1,364 West Virginia $1,467 $2,658 81% $1,191 Minnesota $1,339 $2,522 88% $1,183 Colorado $1,675 $2,834 69% $1,159 New Mexico $1,498 $2,628 75% $1,130 Wyoming $1,577 $2,703 71% $1,126 Massachusetts $1,616 $2,711 68% $1,095 Louisiana $2,228 $3,292 48% $1,064 Kentucky $1,611 $2,633 63% $1,022 Arkansas $1,556 $2,563 65% $1,007 Illinois $1,176 $2,182 86% $1,006 Alabama $1,304 $2,307 77% $1,003 Texas $1,644 $2,619 59% $975 Montana $1,589 $2,544 60% $955 Connecticut $1,980 $2,933 48% $953 DC $1,887 $2,787 48% $900 Mississippi $1,504 $2,395 59% $891 Tennessee $1,339 $2,230 67% $891 Nebraska $1,287 $2,159 68% $872 South Dakota $1,250 $2,120 70% $870 Kansas $1,412 $2,259 60% $847 Oregon $1,325 $2,157 63% $832 Missouri $1,288 $2,117 64% $829 North Dakota $1,123 $1,930 72% $807 South Carolina $1,353 $2,151 59% $798 Washington $1,307 $2,079 59% $772 Pennsylvania $1,438 $2,192 52% $754 Iowa $1,073 $1,818 69% $745 Nevada $1,578 $2,292 45% $714 New Hampshire $1,156 $1,858 61% $702 Idaho $1,019 $1,715 68% $696 Utah $1,212 $1,868 54% $656 Oklahoma $1,469 $2,112 44% $643 Virginia $993 $1,619 63% $626 Ohio $959 $1,553 62% $594 New York $1,214 $1,790 47% $576 Alaska $1,246 $1,813 46% $567 Wisconsin $1,147 $1,674 46% $527 Vermont $1,166 $1,641 41% $475 Maryland $1,541 $1,975 28% $434 Indiana $1,057 $1,450 37% $393 Maine $884 $1,209 37% $325 Average $1,447 $2,610 80% $1,163 Methodology: Insure.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to field quotes from up to six major insurers for 10 ZIP codes in each state for a 2017 Honda Accord operated by male, age 40. Base rate is for $100,000 per person in bodily injury liability, up to $300,000 per accident, and $300,000 property damage liability limits; comprehensive and collision coverage with a $500 deductible. Key Takeaways Rates can escalate anywhere from 28% to 371% after a DUI conviction, depending on circumstances Some carrier will not renew, or even cancel, a policy after a DUI conviction, forcing the driver to look for new car insurance while having two dark marks: a DUI and a policy cancelation How long a DUI remains on a driver’s record varies by state. In most, an alcohol- or drug-related conviction stays on it from five to 10 years While no insurance companies ignore a DUI conviction, they vary widely in penalties on rates Generally speaking, insurance companies usually find out about the DUI charge Even harsher, some companies may not even bother raising your rates. “Some carriers will simply non-renew or cancel your policy after learning of your conviction,” says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com. “Not all companies want to deal with drivers with checkered pasts.” If that happens, you’ll be forced to look for car insurance with two dark marks on your record – a DUI and a policy cancellation. However, that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily stick with any insurer that doesn’t end your policy. If your insurer chooses to gouge you rather than drop you, it may be time to shop for a new company. How long will a DUI affect my rates? Although a DUI may remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life, insurance companies will usually only see what’s on your state’s department of motor vehicle (DMV) record. When your DUI is eventually cleared from your DMV record, you will once again be able to get cheaper car insurance. Each state determines how long it will keep a DUI on your record. In most states, an alcohol- or drug-related conviction will remain on your DMV record anywhere from five to 10 years. For example, California, Florida and New York will keep it on your record for 10 years, while Arizona keeps it for five years. But some states are much stricter, like New Mexico, where a DUI conviction will remain on your record for 55 years. However, if your DUI is viewable by insurers for a lengthy period of time, state laws may only allow car insurance companies to rate on it anywhere from three to seven years. But there are exceptions, such as California, where state law keeps you ineligible for a good driver discount until 10 years have passed. Is there such a thing as DUI forgiveness? Some car insurance companies will forgive your first at-fault car accident, but none will ignore a DUI conviction. But again, insurers vary widely in how much they’re going to penalize you. “Every insurance company is different in how they treat a DUI and how they calculate your premium,” Gusner says. “For this type of circumstance, it really pays to shop around. Go on the Internet, or make calls, and comparison shop and eventually you will find a company that best suits your needs until the DUI disappears from your record.” For example, if you’re insured with Progressive, you will not face cancellation or non-renewal due to a DUI conviction, but you are likely to face a rate increase. Progressive reviews rates on a case-by-case basis. It will weigh multiple factors such as your age, gender, driving history and vehicle model. state farm reviews DUIs on a case-by-case basis too. But the outcome also depends on which subsidiary you’re with. If you have a preferred policy with State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. and receive a DUI, State Farm will likely move you into State Farm Fire & Casualty, which is its standard-policy company for riskier drivers and higher rates. QuickTake The penalties for driving uninsured -- and why they may be meaningless See more > Will I end up in my state’s high-risk pool? Each state has what’s called a “high-risk” or assigned-risk pool for risky drivers. How these pools operate can vary by state, but in general states require car insurance companies to participate in these pools in proportion to the amount of business they do there. Each insurer must accept the motorists assigned to it, retaining the profit or absorbing the loss that comes with that customer. You’ll land in a high-risk pool when you can’t find a private insurer (referred to as the voluntary market) that will sell you a policy. But this is meant to be your last option. You’ll pay a high premium and secure only the minimum liability insurance you must have by law to drive. And you won’t find any money-saving options here – you’ll have to wait it out. But don’t panic. Your first DUI will not necessarily land you in your state’s high-risk pool. However, if you have numerous speeding tickets, traffic violations and more than one DUI on your record, you may find yourself swimming in the high-risk pool and there’s not much you can do about it. At that point, you generally can’t find car insurance in the voluntary market until your driving record improves. Is it possible my insurer won’t find out about my DUI? Auto insurance companies may check your motor vehicle record only once every three years or when you’re applying for a new policy. It’s also possible that accidents, tickets and DUIs may never make their way to your official motor vehicle record. According to the Insurance Research Council, as many as one in five convictions for traffic violations never end up on motor vehicle records due to lack of shared information between courts and motor vehicle departments, or because a conviction has been erased through alternative means, such as driving school for a speeding ticket. If you get your DUI charge reduced in a plea bargain, or have a limited license suspension, such as 30 days, it’s also very unlikely your insurer will find out about your conviction. However, if your insurance company misses the conviction at the time it happens, it still has a few years to raise rates if the DUI is discovered later. Don’t count on your car insurance company missing the DUI. The odds are still good it will find it, which usually means a significant hike in your rates. What is an SR-22? Most states require DUI offenders to get a form called an SR-22 from their auto insurers. An SR-22 proves to the DMV that you carry liability insurance and can assist in regaining your license. An SR-22 also requires your insurance company to notify your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) if it cancels your auto insurance for any reason. You’ll likely have to file this proof of insurance for three — sometimes five — years with your state’s DMV. Some car insurance companies don’t offer SR-22 policies, so your policy could be non-renewed or cancelled because your company can no longer provide what you need. What if I refused a breathalyzer? The majority of states have some type of “implied consent” law, which means refusing a breathalyzer test usually does more harm than good. An implied consent law means that when you sign up for your driver’s license, you also consent to taking a breathalyzer test upon demand from a police officer, it’s that simple — to get the license you allow for this. Many times people refuse a breathalyzer because they don’t want to provide proof of their blood alcohol to police because they fear being arrested. However, the penalty for refusing the breath test can be worse than the OWI (operating while intoxicated) or DUI charge. For first-time offenders, where there wasn’t a car accident or any bodily injury, refusing to take a breathalyzer will likely subject you to greater penalties. Lose of license for a year is a common penalty, some states also include a monetary fine or even jail time. On the flip side DUI lawyers advsie that not taking a breath test means an attorney may be able to argue away the subjective evidence. The arresting officer can speak of how you smelled and acted and his or her opinion of the results of your field sobriety tests. However, an attorney may be able to argue away those things. Does that mean refusing a breathalyzer could spare you the pain of high car insurance rates? Don’t count on it, says Gusner. “While it’s technically possible to beat a DUI charge this way, it’s not an easy thing to do,” she says. “Plus, you’re likely to end up paying a lot to an attorney if you even try, which can be especially painful if you don’t win the case.” Can I still get car insurance if I lose my license? If your license is suspended or revoked, your insurance company can cancel you at the end of your policy, or in some states your policy can be canceled midterm if the insurer finds out that you lost your license. It can be very difficult to find car insurance if you don’t have a valid license. But if you still need your car insured, either because it is financed or because you need someone else to drive you around in it, you’ll need to search for an insurer who will allow you to insure the car for another primary driver while excluding you as a driver. Is there anything else I can do to improve my rates after a DUI? To find the best car insurance company after a DUI, you need to shop around and compare rates. Even with a serious ding on your record, you can save money, because no two car insurance companies will charge the same amount for a policy. Each insurer uses its own formula to assess risk, so the price for the same coverage can vary significantly among companies. You’ll see in the chart below how much rates can differ, and how much you can save by comparing quotes. CompanyAverage rateDUI rateDollar increasePercent increaseState Farm $1,186 $1,633 $447 38% Progressive $1,518 $2,019 $501 33% Farmers $1,520 $2,228 $708 47% Allstate $1,898 $3,132 $1,234 65% Gecio $1,016 $2,966 $1,950 192% Nationwide $1,586 $3,563 $1,977 125% Note: The table shows the average annual rate of 10 ZIP codes in the state. Data was provided for Insure.com by Quadrant Information Services. A survey commissioned by Insure.com of 1,000 drivers shows that the majority of motorists don’t realize that you can save money by comparing rates after a major violation. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said it was better to stick with your current insurer after a DUI, leaving 45 percent correctly answering that you should shop around. As you can see in the table above, you can wind up over-paying — or saving — depending on the company you choose.