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How Does a DUI Affect Car Insurance Rates?

Learn about how much a DUI affects insurance rates, how long a DUI affects insurance rates and more.

DUI record with car keys, whiskey and handcuffs

The legal and financial headaches that are tied to being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) are severe. A prime example: most people see their car insurance rates skyrocket after a DUI.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the cost of a DUI. Specifically, you’ll find answers to these and other important questions:

How much do insurance rates go up after a DUI?

A DUI could increase your insurance costs by $5,000 per year, according to our research.

Your own rates may go up by more or less than that amount after a DUI, though, as every insurance company handles these cases differently.

Also, as the data below shows, how much your car insurance rates increase following this type of charge or conviction is only part of the cost of a DUI.

The average estimated cost of a DUI

A DUI could cost you around $10,000 when all is said and done. The chart below details and combines the different costs associated with a DUI:

Expense Average estimated cost
Bail $150-$2,000
Towing and impound $100-$1,000
Added insurance costs $5,000+
DUI lawyer $2,500
Court fines $1,000
Alcohol treatment/education $1,000
Licensing fees $150
Ignition lock $250
Total $10,000-$15,000

Note: These costs are estimates. What you end up paying might be different. Compare quotes to find out how much a DUI could raise your car insurance rates.

Even if it doesn’t cause your car insurance costs to go up by $5,000 or more per year, you can pretty much count on losing your preferred or safe driver discount following a DUI conviction. You might not lose this and other discounts right away, but that may happen when it’s time to renew your policy and your insurance company runs your driving record again.

Some companies may even drop you at this point. Or they might switch you to their high-risk division once they learn of your DUI infraction.

There are companies that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers. But insurance rates for drivers with DUIs are often double or triple those of a driver without a DUI.

How long does a DUI stay on your record?

How long a DUI stays on your driving record varies from state to state. In general, a DUI should drop off your driving record — and your insurance record  — after three to seven years. However, it may remain on your criminal record forever.

If a DUI is still showing up on background checks, you have a couple of options. One option is to look into getting the infraction expunged from your criminal record. Another option is to have it listed under "sealed records." Only the police can view sealed records. Contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a DUI lawyer to learn more.

What happens if the DUI is expunged?

Getting a DUI expunged may be an option for a person looking to remove a DUI from their driving record. That said, each state has strict rules on expungement. Some states only allow expungement if you’re arrested for, but not convicted of, driving under the influence.

How long does a DUI affect car insurance rates?

A DUI could raise your insurance rates for a minimum of three years, in most cases.

How long a DUI stays on your insurance record and affects your insurance rates depends on where you live, just like where you live determines how long a DUI stays on your driving record.

Typically, though, a DUI may increase your car insurance rates as long as the citation remains on your driving record. After it drops off your record, the DUI should stop affecting your insurance and your rates should return to normal.

What is considered a DUI?

A DUI charge indicates driving under the influence of certain substances. If you take something that impairs your driving and risks the safety of others while you're behind the wheel, you can be charged with a DUI. This includes:

  • Alcohol.
  • Legal prescription drugs.
  • Illegal drugs.
  • A combination of substances listed above.

Police can charge you with driving under the influence if you have medication in your system and have had just one alcoholic drink. The combination of legal prescription drugs and alcohol could affect your driving and put people at risk, including yourself.

The legal threshold for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% in most states. You could still be convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol level below 0.05%, however, if a prosecutor can prove that a combination of substances impaired your driving.

The best way to avoid charges and high costs is to not drive under the influence.

How do insurance companies find out about a DUI?

Companies find out about a DUI when they look into your history of tickets, accidents and convictions. So, if you already have a policy, your insurer won’t know about your violation until it checks this report at renewal time.

This is when your insurance provider may either raise your rates or drop you as a customer entirely.

If you’re applying for a new car insurance policy with a DUI on your record, be truthful from the beginning about your history. The company will check either way, and if you’re dishonest you could be denied coverage.

DUIs and SR-22 forms

If you’re charged with a DUI or a DWI, you may have to file an SR-22 form with your state’s DMV.

An SR-22 form, or “certificate of financial responsibility,” proves that a driver has purchased at least the minimum amount of liability car insurance their state requires.

You probably won’t have to file this certificate yourself. Most insurance companies file SR-22 forms for their customers.

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