Car Insurance After a DUI: What You Need To Know

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Though you should never get behind the wheel while intoxicated, it happens. Driving under the influence with more than the average legal blood alcohol limit of .08% is enough to be charged with a crime. If you receive a DUI citation, you’ll need to jump through some major insurance hoops to get things back on track.

First, you might need a new car insurance provider because it’s possible that your current provider either dropped you or astronomically raised your post-DUI insurance rates to new highs. Expect at least a 7 percent increase, the national average, in the price of your premium, which is the national average, but it can vary wildly from company to company. For example, according to Insurance.com, State Farm’s average insurance rate is $1,186, but it significantly increases to $1,633 for drivers with one DUI. Progressive’s average insurance rate is $1,518, but it increases to $2,019 for drivers with one DUI.

According to alcohol.org, drivers with a DUI on their record are considered high risk and can expect their insurance rates to increase by somewhere between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the details pertaining to the DUI, the insurance provider and other factors.

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The other repercussions you’ll face after a DUI depend on the state in which you live. Arizona has the harshest penalties for those caught driving under the influence, including mandatory impound of your vehicle and a minimum jail term of 10 days for first-time offenders.

On the other end of the spectrum is South Dakota, the most lenient state for DUI drivers. There is no minimum jail sentence for either a first or second DUI in South Dakota. A third DUI is considered a felony, but there is no mandatory ignition lock device, no required administrative license suspension, no mandatory vehicle impound and no required administrative license suspension.

Whatever state you reside, if you have a DUI on your record, you still have options for DUI insurance. The cost of car insurance after DUI varies from carrier to carrier, so it’s important to shop around.

Understanding insurance after a DUI

Every state enforces strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, but insurance companies evaluate your risk as a driver as they see fit. Your rates are based on a number of factors, and having a DUI on your record is just one component.
Depending on the severity of your driving offense, your risk as a driver and your social and economic demographics, insurers may raise your rates, require you to purchase “high risk” dui insurance or cancel your coverage altogether. Keep in mind that these are subjective measures, and each insurer will interpret your driving record (and DUI) in slightly different ways. Some companies rank a DUI citation as less of a risk than an at-fault accident.

How to find the best DUI insurance

To find the best rates for car insurance after DUI, shop around. Though it’s true that the majority of car insurance providers increase premiums following a DUI charge, some carriers have higher costs than others. By browsing a few options and car insurance quotes, you’ll be better able to have a sense of what range of costs you’re facing.

Aside from DUI car insurance rates varying from carrier to carrier, rate increase can vary by geographic location. Though Progressive may offer the cheapest rate for insurance after DUI in some areas, a local insurance company may suit others better. The best way to know which company offers you the best costs and options for rebuilding your account is to get several quotes.

There are several factors that insurers take into account when assessing your rate of car insurance after DUI. Some insurance carriers will discontinue insurance coverage after a DUI citation. However, others, like Progressive, offer insurance to DUI drivers. Progressive vows to keep increases around the nationwide average of 7% for drivers with one DUI on their driving record.

Progressive and other DUI car insurance providers also base premium increases following DUIs on your previous driving record. For example, if your prior driving history had been clear of any at-fault accidents of citations, then your insurance after DUI will not increase as much.

Beyond your driving record, rates for car insurance after DUI can also depend on the type of incident in which you were involved. For example, your rates may jump higher if you’re involved in a multi-vehicle crash than if you were pulled over at a low speed driving a short distance home. Ask about what makes one a high-risk driver before accepting a high premium increase right away.

By shopping around, you can compare costs, coverage for DUI high-risk drivers and the road back to lower insurance premiums. Because you’re under no obligation to purchase insurance after getting a quote, there’s no reason to forgo weighing all of your options. Start your search by looking for companies that offer breaks to drivers with a history of DUI and build your driver profile.

To determine the best car insurance providers for your circumstances, here are the average rates and post-DUI insurance rates by company:

Company Average rate Post-DUI rate
State Farm $1,186 $1,633
Progressive $1,518 $2,019
Farmers $1,520 $2,228
Allstate $1,898 $3,132
Nationwide $1,586 $3,563

These companies rank as some of the best nationally. While they’re a good starting point, you might find that a smaller or more local company will offer you even better rates.

No matter which company you choose, avoid making the mistake of driving while intoxicated again. Repeat offenses can land you with felony charges and exorbitant DUI insurance costs.

SR-22 proof of insurance

The most common element a DUI or DWI offender will encounter after their license and driving privileges have been reinstated is the SR-22 form. The idea of an SR-22 proof of insurance form is much simpler than some insurers would have you believe: It is simply a form that you or your insurer must file with your state’s department of motor vehicles (or department of licensing) to verify that you have valid insurance coverage. This is commonly required in most states following a DUI or DWI offense. It’s also needed for other offenses under which a driver’s license would be revoked or suspended, such as excessive speeding, a violent crash or other serious moving violations.

An SR-22 proof of insurance form is often necessary for up to three years following a suspended license, and most states will require newly reinstated drivers to carry insurance or else surrender their driver’s license. If you cancel your coverage or switch insurers, your insurer is required to notify the state so that police officers can be on the lookout for you as a former DUI offender with canceled insurance coverage.
SR-22 isn’t some kind of “special” or “high-risk” insurance coverage. The same regulations and minimum requirements for insurance coverage apply to former DUI offenders as they do for any driver with a clean history. The only difference for a DUI offender is that they have a mark on their driving record.

Cancelled coverage after a DUI

After a DUI, your insurer may decide to cancel your policy to avoid the risk of paying for your next accident. As in most employment contracts, the average insurance policy is written as a mutual, non-binding agreement, meaning that either party (you or your insurer) can terminate the contract and cancel the policy at any time, for any reason.

A DUI or high-speed crash is a reason many drivers find themselves with no choice but to look for a new insurer. If you had insurance coverage at the time of an accident, your policy covers any damages or injuries (including ongoing medical treatment), even if you cancel coverage at a later date.

What if I’m denied coverage?

You aren’t guaranteed a policy from any company after a DUI. Luckily, if you’re denied coverage, there are some options you may be able to take advantage of.

Look into high-risk insurance pools, which are programs that exist to help insure drivers with major black marks on their driving records. Most states offer high-risk insurance pools, but the eligibility requirements vary quite a bit by state. The general rule, though, is that you will need to be turned down at least once in the past 60 days by traditional insurance providers to qualify. Some states require you to be turned down more than once, so you’ll need to take a look at your state requirements and go from there. You can find specific information about state requirements in the directory of the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office.

90 Days Off the Road

Most states currently suspend a first-time DUI offender’s license for 90 days, with others requiring as much as a year suspension. Even with 90 days being on the lower end, being prohibited from operating a vehicle for roughly three months can be detrimental to your way of life.

From missing work to paying for alternative transportation, being suspended from driving is an expensive inconvenience. And though you won’t be able to drive during this period of time, you’ll still need to carry insurance for any vehicles you own. The decision to drive under the influence can end up costing you $10,000 or more.

Beyond losing out financially, 90 days off the road means you won’t be able to grocery shop, visit with friends, go out to movie or travel to new places without relying on other transportation. Not only does 90 days off the road cost you financially, but it costs you in time spent as well.

The Bottom Line

As mentioned above, the consequences for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated can include jail time, community service, fines, license suspension or having to install an ignition locking device in your vehicle, but it will depend on your blood alcohol level and your state. If you need more information about the consequences of a DUI/DWI in your state, visit DUI Driving Laws.

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