How a DUI Affects Insurance Rates and Tips to Reduce Premiums

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Driving under the influence can wreck your auto insurance premium, even if you have a very low deductible. According to data collected by Quadrant Information Services, your monthly cost for a liability-only policy can  more than double after a single DUI conviction. Even worse, a DUI remains on your record anywhere from 5 years to life, depending on your state.

This guide will help answer your questions about how a DUI affects insurance rates, how long DUIs remain on your record, and how high-risk drivers can save on auto insurance moving forward.

If you are paying too much for car insurance after a DUI, now is an excellent time to use’s rate comparison tool and get free quotes from multiple auto insurance providers.

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How a DUI Affects Insurance Rates

For a more accurate picture of how a DUI affects auto insurance rates, here is the average cost of a monthly full insurance coverage premium for drivers with one DUI on their record versus those with clean driving records, according to data from Quadrant.

Monthly Cost of Liability-Only Insurance Monthly Cost of Full-Coverage Insurance
Clean Driving Record $123 $274
1 DUI $251 $536
Difference $128/month $262/month

This monthly difference adds up quickly over a year. For policies with liability coverage only, the average annual premium for drivers with a DUI is $3,008. That number is cut in half at $1,480 for drivers with no DUIs, speeding tickets, or at-fault accidents.

On top of rate increases, most states have you fill out an SR-22 form. This form is an add-on to your existing policy that lets the state know you carry the required liability insurance coverage. Other driving-related offenses that may require SR-22 insurance include DWIs and driving without insurance.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

Man uses ignition interlock device

Most states have a 5- to 10-year lookback window with DUI convictions. A lookback window is the time a previous DUI conviction remains on your record.

Some states like Florida, Indiana, and North Dakota have a shorter lookback period of 5 years. States like Illinois, Vermont, and Colorado have lifetime lookback periods. Texas has a lifetime lookback period with a 5-year window for subsequent offenses, as long as the policyholder installs an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. So, look at your state’s laws to see how long your DUI will follow you.

How Long Will My Auto Insurance Premiums Stay Elevated After a DUI?

The length of time your auto insurance premiums will remain high after a DUI depends on two main factors: your state’s laws and your insurance company‘s underwriting policies.

Most insurance companies look at the last 3-5 years of your driving record. Since the shortest time a DUI can stay on your record is five years in some states, your insurance will likely be elevated for at least five years. Your rates can stay elevated for longer, depending on your state. For example, DUI convictions remain on a California driver’s record for 10 years. In Oregon, a DUI stays on your record for life.

The second factor is your auto insurance company‘s own rate-setting criteria. For example, one insurance company may offer a 3-year lookback for DUIs, whereas a second may enforce a 5-year lookback for the same offense. This approach also applies to traffic violations and at-fault accidents.

Regardless of the time, your insurance costs will remain elevated. Take all the necessary steps to lower your premiums with additional insights below.

5 Tips to Lower Your Auto Insurance Premium After a DUI Conviction

Even after a DUI conviction, some opportunities exist to lower or maintain your current rate.

1. Drive Safely From This Point On

Our best recommendation is to be a safe driver with a clean driving record moving forward. Expect your higher rates to drop only after three consecutive years of no claims, at-fault accidents, or traffic infractions. You may even qualify for a good driver discount after your DUI is off your record.

2. Look for Discounts

Another way DUI-convicted drivers can save on auto insurance is by asking for discounts in other areas. Paying your entire annual premium upfront can save you a good chunk of money. Even something as simple as enrolling in autopay and paperless billing could lower your monthly cost.

3. Enroll in a Defensive Driving Course

Many auto insurance companies reward drivers who enroll in defensive driving courses with a small discount. The exact amount you can save depends on factors like the insurance provider, your driving record, and your location.

4. Look for a New Policy

Another way is to shop around for a new policy once yours is scheduled to renew. Unfortunately, not all auto insurance companies treat DUI-convicted drivers the same. It’s always a good idea to get insurance quotes from some of the top rated car insurance companies, like GEICO, Liberty Mutual, and Nationwide, but certain “non-standard” carriers like The General or Direct Auto specialize in drivers with black marks on their record. These companies may be able to offer you much better rates than some of the more well-known car insurance companies.

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5. Raise Your Credit Score

Finally, see if you can slowly boost your credit score. There’s quite a big difference in premium rates based on credit scores:

Monthly Premium for Liability-Only Insurance Monthly Premium for Full-Coverage Insurance
Excellent Credit $119 $262
Good Credit $143 $315
Fair Credit $174 $381
Poor Credit $277 $589
Difference Between Excellent and Poor Credit $158/month $327/month

If you want to eventually save an average of $327 per month on a full-coverage policy, shoot for an “excellent” credit score. Any progress you make will most likely save you money.

How Much Does a DUI Cost?

Man drinking while driving a car with police sirens behind him

Now that you have a better idea of how a DUI affects insurance rates, how much will you pay for the DUI itself? Like your car insurance rate, plenty of variables impact a DUI rate increase: where you live, your blood alcohol content, and whether it’s your first conviction for driving under the influence.

When you get convicted, you will get an itemized bill with only some of your legal and court fees tallied up. Some of the costs will be obvious immediately, but others will only be apparent over time — such as the higher car insurance premiums discussed above.

Let’s break down the fees associated with a DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated) so you know what to expect.

Penalties and Court Costs

A DUI conviction almost always carries a fine, although the amount can vary depending on the circumstances of your case and the DUI laws of the state you live in.

For example, a first-time offender in Alaska who didn’t cause any bodily injury could expect to pay as much as $1,500 in DUI penalties, fines, and fees. According to WalletHub, the average fine for a first-time DUI is $352.

How to reduce DUI penalties: Your best bet is to hire a DUI lawyer. They may be able to help you plead to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. However, if your blood alcohol level is very high or there’s clear evidence you were driving drunk, even the best attorney may be unable to help.

Attorney Fees

A DUI charge is scary, and having a defense attorney to advise you makes the process less overwhelming. But representation is costly. The average DUI attorney costs around $1,900, depending on your case. So don’t hesitate to ask your attorney about their fees before signing a contract.

How to reduce your DUI attorney cost: You may not need an attorney. One option Nolo recommends is paying an attorney to assess your case. They’ll review the incident report and the results of your breathalyzer or blood test.

If the chances are high that you will be found guilty because your blood-alcohol concentration was well over the limit or you crashed your car, you might consider pleading guilty without a lawyer.

Towing and Impound Fees

After your arrest, you’ll have to pay to get your car or truck out of the police impound lot. You may have to pay an impound/vehicle release fee of $90-$250, towing charges of $100-$800, and storage fees of $10-$100 a day.

The total cost can be well over $1,000. You’ll also have to pay for a ride to the impound lot (or ask a friend to drive you) since your driving privileges are suspended after a drunken-driving arrest. 

How to reduce drunk driving (DUI) costs for getting your car back: It’s no use begging or bribing the impound lot employees. The best thing to do is simply go and get your vehicle as soon as you’re allowed to do so to prevent the daily storage fees from piling up.

Bail and Jail Costs

After your DUI arrest, you may be released on your own recognizance. That means the judge allows you to go home on the condition that you show up for your court hearing.

In some DUI cases, you may need to post bail to be released from jail. A survey found that the average bail for a DUI offense was $500.

In many states, jail time is mandatory for first-time DUI offenders, but the amount of time you spend in jail can vary widely. The minimum sentence may be only one day (like in North Carolina or Montana) or 10 days (like in Arizona or Georgia). Second-time offenders’ minimum rises to as much as 180 days (in West Virginia).

Jail is no fun and also costs you a lot of money. Some jails charge for room and board. You may also be charged for medical treatment if you get sick in jail.

How to reduce DUI-related jail fees: A DUI defense lawyer may help you get a shorter sentence or avoid paying jail-related charges by doing community service.

Cost of a DUI in DMV Fees

A driver’s license suspension is one of the most serious impacts of a DUI, which limits your ability to drive a motor vehicle for a specific period.

Once that time is up, you’ll have to pay a license reinstatement fee to be able to drive again. Your state’s DMV will charge you a certain amount to get your license back. In Virginia, for instance, it’s $220.

How to reduce DUI-related DMV fees: Sorry, but there isn’t much leeway here. You’ll have to pay these fees to get behind the wheel.

Pick Yourself Up after a DUI Conviction

Now that you know everything there is to know about how a DUI affects insurance rates, shop for a new, cheap car insurance policy from a top-rated insurance provider like Progressive, State Farm, or Allstate.

Get started by requesting free car insurance quotes using’s rate comparison tool:

Explore Your Options Post-DUI Conviction

Methodology: Some of the data referenced in this article has been gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. We analyzed more than 2.5 million rows of carrier-reported data to calculate the average rates referenced above. All rates are based on an insurance profile of a single-vehicle auto insurance policy for a Honda Accord driver. For more information on how we calculate rates, please reference our data methodology.

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