Navigating Auto Insurance After a DUI
No matter where you reside, a DUI is a serious offense that often comes with penalties, like steep fines, a revoked driver’s license, and possible jail time. But if arrested and ticketed for driving under the influence, you must also navigate your car insurance after a DUI. Here’s how DUIs affect car insurance, your options (yes, you still have options) for finding coverage, and everything you need to know about so-called “DUI Insurance” after a DUI conviction.
What is DUI insurance? (SR22 or FR44)
After a DUI, some drivers having difficulty getting covered may search for “DUI insurance.” However, it’s not actually a type of insurance or a policy you can get. Drivers with a DUI conviction buy a standard auto insurance policy but must also have an SR22 and/or an FR44 on file (the particular form depends on the state) with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to prove they’re carrying at least the minimum liability coverage limits. Insurers file this form electronically on the driver’s behalf for a fee.
It’s worth noting that an FR44 is only required for drivers in Florida and Virginia convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense, and it requires higher than minimum liability coverage limits. For example, in Virginia, the minimum liability limits are 30/60/20 for most drivers, but for policies requiring an FR44, the minimum liability limits go up to 60/120/40.
SR22s are used in almost every state and only require the minimum amount of liability insurance, but this filing could increase your rate due to being considered a high-risk driver.
DUI vs DWI
In many locations, driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) essentially mean the same thing. However, DUI laws and DWI laws aren’t always the same. In some places, DWIs are considered a more serious criminal charge based on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and other relevant factors. Depending on where you live, you may also have heard the following terms to describe driving under the influence of various substances:
- Driving under the influence of liquor (DUIL)
- Operating a motor vehicle while impaired (OMVI)
- Operating while intoxicated (OWI)
- Operating under the influence (OUI)
Abbreviations and charges vary by state, so be sure to look up the laws where you live.
How to Get Car Insurance If You’ve Had a DUI
Not all insurance companies cover drivers with a DUI/DWI conviction on their record. Therefore, it’s important to find an insurer that is willing to work with you. At Direct Auto, our friendly agents can help you get the auto insurance you need, search for discounts to help you get an affordable rate, and file an SR22 or FR44 on your behalf.
Overall, shop around for insurers specializing in “non-standard auto insurance” or “high-risk auto insurance,” and make safe driving a habit so your rates are even lower when the DUI charge falls off your record.
Does a DUI raise car insurance rates?
If you’re convicted of a DUI/DWI charge, you can expect your car insurance rates to increase. When insurers work to calculate your car insurance premium, it’s largely based on how risky you’d be to insure. And if you have a DUI/DWI charge, insurance companies will almost certainly see you as a high-risk driver. The more “high-risk” you are, the more you’ll pay for coverage. There’s also a chance you’ll be forced to purchase higher limits of coverage (depending on if you have to meet SR-22 or FR-44 requirements) which comes with higher rates.
How much will a DUI actually raise my insurance rate?
Car insurance rates are unique, and they depend on several factors. Therefore, there’s no set amount your rate will increase after a DUI. However, on average, rates after a DUI can increase by 74%, equating to an extra $1,470 each year, according to Forbes Advisor. Forbes also notes speeding tickets (21% rate increase) and accidents (41% rate increase) do not affect your rates nearly as much as a DUI.
How long does a DUI affect your insurance rates?
You might be viewed as a higher risk to insure now, but that doesn’t mean you will be forever. Traffic offenses (like accidents, speeding tickets, and DUIs) eventually fall off your record after a few years. In most states, the typical time is three-to-five years, and during that period, you’ll likely be required to meet SR-22 and/or FR-44 requirements.
It’s worth noting that DUIs may take longer to fall off your driving record in some states. For example, California drivers with a DUI conviction must wait for 10 years, according to Forbes.
How much does a DUI cost?
Drunk driving isn’t just dangerous; it can also be costly. While the total cost of a DUI depends on the state, conviction, offender’s record, and other factors, the whole process can easily cost thousands of dollars. Peter Liss, a prominent San Diego attorney, told US News the total cost “could easily reach $10,000.”
Towing, Storage, and Impound Costs
If you’re placed under arrest for a DUI, the police officer will sometimes move your vehicle to a parking lot or let you call someone to pick it up. However, in states where impoundment is mandatory, the officer can tow it to an impound lot. After paying for the tow ($109 on average), daily storage fees, and costs to release the vehicle from the lot, an impounded car or truck can end up costing hundreds of dollars.
DUI Bail and Bond Costs (Varies by State)
If suspected of a DUI, and arrested and “booked,” (meaning that belongings, personal information, fingerprints, and mugshots are taken and processed), you may have the option to be released “on your own recognizance” (abbreviated as OR release) and sign a written promise to appear in court. If you’re not granted OR release initially, you typically have the option to post bail. However, depending on the severity of the crime (for example, if you caused an accident that severely injured someone) and your driving history, you might not be eligible for release until your court date, says Lawyers.com.
DUI Court Fines
Courts often impose fees for a DUI. They range in price depending on which offense it was and where the guilty individual lives.
When going to court for a DUI, you can choose to hire an attorney, go with the public defender appointed to your case, or represent yourself. The last two options won’t cost anything (aside from court fines, etc.); however, in instances where it’s not your first DUI offense, or you caused injury to another person, it’s often recommended to hire a private lawyer. Legal fees can add up quickly depending on whom you hire and where you reside.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) Installation
To help prevent a drunk driver from returning to the road intoxicated, a judge may order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), sometimes called a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). An IID is a breathalyzer that attaches to your vehicle and prevents the car from starting if alcohol is detected. The device logs information about your driving that can be downloaded and given to the court, law enforcement, or DMV. Typically, a state- or court-approved third party installs the device for around $50-$150, and then you pay a $50-$150 monthly fee, as well as a $50-$150 removal fee.
SR-22 or FR-44 Insurance Filing
If your license has been suspended and you’re trying to get it reinstated, the state or court will order you to obtain an SR22 or FR44. An SR22 is a certificate of insurance, or "Proof of Financial Responsibility" form that proves a driver has bought the state minimum auto insurance coverage. An FR44 is like an FR22; however, it’s only used in Virginia and Florida and the state-required liability limits are substantially higher than the normal minimums. Depending on the state, car insurance companies typically charge a $15 to $25 fee for filing an SR-22 or FR-44 form. And, because you are now a high-risk driver, your auto insurance premiums will also go up.
License Reinstatement Fee
Depending on whether it’s your first, second, or third DUI, your driver’s license can be suspended for months or years. Once the suspension period has ended, and you’ve fulfilled your state’s requirements (e.g., got an SR22 from your insurance company, and if required, had an Ignition Interlock Device installed on the vehicle), you’ll have to pay a license reinstatement fee, which varies from state to state.
Does car insurance cover a DUI accident?
What if you’re involved in an accident, and the at-fault driver is over the legal limit? Will their insurance cover everyone’s (including the drunk driver’s) expenses, or are they allowed to exclude DUIs from policy coverage?
Depending on where you live and the specific terms of your policy, you could be in insurance-related trouble if you cause an accident while driving drunk. The legal experts at Nolo claim insurers will investigate the circumstances of your accident closely and could conclude drinking and driving is an intentional act, allowing them to disclaim coverage. If your insurer doesn’t have your back after you cause a crash, you could be left paying for sizable bills out of your own pocket. Nolo also notes even if your insurer does pay for damages after a DUI accident, it may not provide a defense for you against a claim of intentional misconduct or cover the damages related to the intentional misconduct. It’s also worth noting that some insurers may cover the claim but then cancel or non-renew your policy.
You don’t want to be responsible for the total costs of a car accident, so your best bet is to not drive if you have been drinking or are under the influence of any drug.
Can you hide a DUI from your insurer?
Since a DUI can cause your insurance rates to increase dramatically, you might be wondering if you can hide this conviction from your insurer. Is it a good idea? Can you get by without them ever finding out?
While the idea is tempting, your best bet is to be forthcoming. At some point, your insurer will pull your driving record, like at renewal time, and find out on their own. If you haven’t disclosed this information, your insurer might be unwilling to renew or outright cancel your policy, which could leave you scrambling to find coverage and explaining to potential new insurance companies why your previous insurer dropped you.
Get covered with Direct Auto, regardless of your past.
At Direct Auto, we’ll work hard to get you quality, affordable coverage, whatever circumstances you’re in. Give us a call, stop by one of our locations, or visit our website for a free quote. We can help you find insurance after a DUI and assist you with filing an SR22 or FR44 today.