DUI 101: Here’s how much a DUI can cost you

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Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous to your safety and that of others. The impact lasts well beyond the event — even if you don’t get into an accident, getting arrested and charged with a DUI can cost you thousands in legal fees, higher insurance premiums and could even jeopardize your job.

It is estimated that one in three people will participate in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for every drunk driving arrest that is made, there are an estimated 500 to 2,000 drunk drivers who go unpenalized.

Drunk driving is prevalent in our society, and getting caught intoxicated behind the wheel can have grave consequences in terms of risk and after-DUI insurance rates.

How much does insurance go up after a DUI?

A DUI is a serious crime. Insurers consider those convicted of a DUI as high-risk drivers and, therefore, more expensive to insure. That’s why DUI insurance costs will be higher.

This is how much you can expect your insurance rates to increase after a DUI.

Average rate
DUI rate
Dollar increase
Percent increase
State Farm

Insurance rates can vary by state and situation, as shown here. It is always important to obtain numerous quotes because each company may calculate and assess your risk differently.

A DUI will follow you for 7 to 10 years and count against your car insurance rates for at least three years. Depending on the state, a DUI remains on your driving record between three and five years. In Pennsylvania and California, a DUI conviction will stay on your driving record for ten years. A DUI conviction in Texas will remain on your record for life.

Financial implications of a DUI

A report from the NHTSA found that 36,750 people died from drunk driving accidents in 2018. In addition to the bodily injury risk, driving under the influence comes with severe financial penalties — to deter individuals from getting behind the wheel impaired.

The costs of a DUI can be expensive for years. NOLO, an online library of consumer-friendly legal information, surveyed how much a first-time DUI cost its readers.

A DUI will cost thousands of dollars over several years in fees, fines, testing, and car insurance premiums. According to Esurance, the Alaska DMV estimates that a DUI costs the convicted driver almost $25,000 over five years.

Can the insurance company drop you after a DUI?

An insurance company has every right to deny you coverage when you have a DUI on your record.

If you have multiple violations and a DUI, an insurer may find it’s too risky to insure you. They may also drop your coverage if they suspect that you will cause expensive insurance claims in the future.

In some states, an insurer can’t legally cancel your coverage after a DUI, but they can choose not to renew you. The Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office (AIPSO) provides an online directory with information on each state’s requirements. This will help you find a provider that will give you coverage despite your record.

How to lower auto insurance rates after a DUI

Insurance rates jump up an average of $800 per year after a DUI. Consider the following ways one can lower auto insurance rates after a DUI.

Research your state’s requirements

Not all states treat DUIs the same, so research your state’s requirements regarding DUI and DWI charges. Many states provide high-risk drivers help and support through non-standard insurance programs from companies like Geico and Progressive.

Shop around

Each insurer measures risk differently. Shopping around and comparing car insurance companies could help you find cheaper auto insurance rates, even after a DUI. For example, Progressive Insurance states that they “only raise rates by a countrywide average of about 7% after one DUI.”

Safeguard your driving record

Be more cautious than ever after a DUI conviction. Minor accidents or driving infractions like speeding tickets can trigger your insurance company to hike your rates again — or even drop you.

SR-22 Forms for DUI auto insurance

Your state may require you to file an SR-22 after a DUI to prove you’re insured before you can drive again. Also known as a statement of financial responsibility, your insurance company or agency usually files these forms on your behalf for a fee of around $25.

If you already have car insurance but need to add an SR-22, call your insurance company and request that they file this paperwork for you. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll need to buy it before you can request an SR-22.

The differences between DUI, DWI, OVI and OUI

For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to convictions from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol as a DUI. But there are several related terms you should be aware of:

  • DUI: Driving under the influence
  • DWI: Driving while impaired or intoxicated
  • OUI: Operating under the influence
  • OVI: Operating vehicle intoxicated
  • OMVI: Operating a motor vehicle impaired

Bottom line

A DUI is a serious offense with long-standing consequences. The shame and hassle of such a conviction is bad enough, but then there’s the financial aftermath. With thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees and court costs, higher insurance premiums are sure to follow.

All is not lost, however. Despite the hefty consequences you face, there are steps you can take to obtain affordable, comprehensive insurance coverage without too much trouble. Everyone deserves a second chance, and these insurance companies will let you do some things to save some money while you put your life back in order.