NerdWallet: Think car insurance is expensive? This is how much it goes up after a DUI

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet

Driving under the influence can cost you more than you may think. Drivers with one DUI pay $3,114 a year, on average, for full coverage car insurance — almost double what a driver without any traffic violations pays — according to NerdWallet’s 2021 rate analysis.

The analysis included drivers with one DUI across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. We examined which drivers paid the most (and least) expensive rates and why.

Key findings
  • Rates after a DUI rise dramatically. Auto insurance rates go up about 96%, or $1,522 per year, on average, for a driver with one DUI.

  • Drivers will likely pay higher rates for three to five years. This means one DUI could cost an extra $7,600 if it remains on a driver’s record for five years.

  • But not everyone will pay the same rates. On average, drivers with a DUI could pay from $508 to $4,165 more per year for car insurance.

  • Location can have a big impact on the price. Average annual rates in Alaska, Florida, Mississippi and Oklahoma increase by less than 50% after a DUI but more than double for drivers in 11 other states.

  • Don’t ignore smaller insurance companies when shopping around. In 34 states and Washington, D.C., the most affordable rates after a DUI aren’t from the nation’s 10 largest insurers.

Expect to pay significantly higher rates after a DUI

Average annual insurance rates after a DUI increase 96%, or $1,522, compared with drivers without any traffic infractions. Because a DUI typically affects your rates for three to five years at minimum, one DUI could set you back more than $7,600 in additional insurance costs over the next five years.

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Location helps determine rates

However, these are average rates, and the exact cost depends on where drivers live. For example, car insurance rates for Alaska, Florida, Mississippi and Oklahoma drivers go up less than 50% on average. While rates after a DUI in California, Hawaii and Michigan increase 165% or more on average.

This means that drivers with a DUI could pay from $508 to $4,165 more per year on average.

Why shopping around matters

Don’t have a few extra thousand dollars to spend on auto insurance? Although your insurance bill is all but guaranteed to increase after a DUI, shopping around can help you find the cheapest possible price.

While you might be tempted to stick with your current company, in most states, the cheapest insurer before a DUI isn’t the same afterward.

Don’t ignore smaller, regional insurers when comparing quotes — they often have lower rates. NerdWallet’s analysis found that in 34 states and Washington, D.C., the cheapest rates after a DUI aren’t from one of the country’s largest insurers.

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What you can do after a DUI

After a DUI conviction, it can be tough to find cheap car insurance — in fact, you might have trouble getting coverage at all. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Shop around right away. Look for alternative insurance immediately after getting a DUI. Your insurer might cancel your coverage, so you’ll want to have another option available. Make sure to let insurers know about the DUI when you shop around to get the most accurate quotes.

  • Avoid any other traffic infractions. Your insurer will likely raise your rate even further after additional driving offenses like speeding tickets, accidents or another DUI.

  • Maintain good credit. Your credit history can play a big role in how much you pay for car insurance. Having poor credit can increase your rates more than a DUI in some cases. Five states — California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington — don’t allow insurers to use credit when determining car insurance rates.

  • Consider reducing your coverage. If you have an older car that isn’t worth much, you may want to drop collision and comprehensive coverage. Compare the value of your vehicle with how much you pay for coverage plus your deductible, which is the amount subtracted from a claim payout. If there isn’t much difference, you’re likely paying more than it’s worth.

  • Compare quotes every three to five years. Insurance rates often change three and five years after a DUI. Shop around after these milestones to make sure you still have the cheapest rate.

  • Get quotes from nonstandard insurance companies. After a DUI, you may need to use an insurer that covers high-risk drivers. If you still can’t find coverage, turn to your state’s high-risk insurance pool through the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office.

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Kayda Norman writes for NerdWallet. Email:

This post was originally published on Market Watch

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