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DUI Insurance in California

Illustration of DUI Insurance in California

Upon receiving a DUI conviction, drivers will see their car insurance rates go up, sometimes doubling in cost. Some insurance companies will no longer insure you because you’ve become a high-risk driver. While there are no specific DUI insurance products, you’ll need to start looking for insurance companies that will provide high-risk auto insurance coverage.

Some insurers specifically cover high-risk drivers. They know you want to get on with your life. Shop around for the best coverage at the best price. Insurance providers may promote affordable DUI insurance coverage, but do your homework before making a final decision.

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Know the Law About California DUIs

  • Drivers with a BAC of 0.08% can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
  • When asked by a police officer, you must, by law, submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse the test, arrest and penalties may follow. You do have the ability to say no to a blood test if there is no warrant.
  • Should your license be suspended, you do have the option to contact the DMV for a review hearing. Do this within ten days of receiving the notice of suspension.

Driving Drunk is Risky and Often Fatal

California reported 1,069 total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2018, with 2.7 people out of 100k dying due to alcohol-related fatalities. Over 72% of those deaths involved high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing twice the legal limit of 0.08%.

Getting DUI Insurance in California

Once you have been charged with a DUI in California, you may lose your current insurance coverage. In order to continue driving legally and avoid additional penalties, you will need to find an insurance carrier who provides coverage to individuals with a DUI. The following steps will guide you on your way to getting back in the driver’s seat.

  1. Obtain an SR-22 — Your insurance company completes the SR-22 form. An SR-22 is a notification to the state DMV that you carry at least the minimum insurance.
  2. Enroll in DUI school — In some states, completing a state-approved course will reduce your points. Many states across the country do not allow any courses to minimize penalties and points from DUI convictions.
  3. Obtain affordable auto coverage — This is a requirement of the SR-22. Your new insurance premiums could be 80-100% higher. However, finding an insurer is possible.
  4. Install an ignition interlock device in your car — Some states require installing an ignition interlock device to keep you from driving under the influence.

When You’re Pulled Over for a DUI

Once you have pulled over, an officer will go through the standard procedures used to measure whether you’ve been driving while under the influence.

  1. The Police Stop You — Police will stop you for driving erratically, running a stoplight, having a broken headlight, or for some other traffic violation. If you’ve been pulled over for no reason, you do have the option to bring forward a motion to suppress. This motion may be successful in having the case thrown out of court.
  2. The Police Approach — The police will note your car’s conditions, your behavior, your passengers’ behavior, as well as any unusual contents or smells. They will request your driver’s license and proof of insurance and might also ask if you’ve been drinking. All the while, the officer will determine your state and whether to search your car.
  3. Vehicle Search — With your permission, the police will search your car. Should the officer smell drugs or alcohol in the vehicle, they have the right to inspect the entire vehicle.
  4. Standardized FST Battery (Field Sobriety Tests) — If the police sense or find evidence that you have been driving under the influence, they will ask the driver to take the Field Sobriety Tests. These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one-leg standing test. According to research, the three FSTs are sufficient to determine if someone is above the BAC of 0.01%.
  5. Breathalyzer Test — Once an officer is confident that the driver may be under the influence, there will be a breathalyzer test. Drivers must submit to the test under “implied consent” laws. The Supreme Court ruled that blood tests without official warrants were unconstitutional and the driver protected by the 4th amendment. But this ruling does not apply to refusing a chemical, breath, or blood test. Across the country, if you refuse a test, it can mean arrest or license suspension.
  6. Arrest, Detention, Release — Finally, if the officer has determined that you are driving under the influence, you will be arrested and taken to jail. Your car will be impounded, your license suspended, and you will stay in jail until the court releases you or you’re bailed out.

How Long Will a DUI in California Impact Your Insurance?

A DUI will affect your insurance, driving record and may result in a criminal record. Typically, insurance companies will look back over a 3-5 year period; however, with multiple records affected, it’s hard to say just how long a DUI will continue to impact your insurance costs. The good news is that you may see your premium rates begin to drop after the look-back period ends.

Penalties for DUIs in California

There are high-cost penalties associated with driving under the influence. Should you be convicted, expect fees, fines, license suspension, and a possible probationary period. If any injuries or deaths result from a DUI charge, the courts may raise the conviction to a felony. Felony charges come with higher costs and longer prison time.

DUI While Underaged

If you are under the age of 21 and tested at a BAC of 0.01%, you can be charged with a DUI. California is a zero-tolerance state. A first-time offender will have their license suspended for up to a year and pay additional fees. When blood alcohol levels go beyond the 0.05% and 0.08% limits, penalties are more serious. Adult misdemeanor DUI charges can apply, you may spend up to six months in jail, there could be other fines, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). Second, third and additional offenses will bring even more significant penalties.

DUI Offenses

California DUI Offenses Penalties
1st DUI offense (misdemeanor)

Jail: up to 6 months county jail
Fines: $390-1000
License: suspended for 4-10 months; reduced with IID
DUI School: 3, 9 months

2nd DUI offense (misdemeanor)

Jail: 96 hours to 1 year in county jail
Fines: $390-1000
License: suspended for two years; reduced with IID
DUI School: 18, 30 months

3rd DUI offense (misdemeanor)

Jail: 120 days to 1 year in county jail
Fines: $390-1000
License: suspended for three years; reduced with IID
DUI School: 30 months

DUI with injury (misdemeanor)

Jail: 5 days to 1 year in county jail
Fines: $390-5000
License: suspended for 1-3 years; reduced with IID
DUI School: 3, 18, 30 months

1st offense DUI with injury (felony)

Jail: 16 months to 16 years in state prison
Fines: $1015-5000 and restitution
License: suspended for one year
DUI School: 18, 30 months

Felony DUI

Jail: up to 3 years in state prison
Fines: $390-1000
License: suspended up to 5 years
DUI School: 18, 30 months

Have a DUI? Get a Custom Car Insurance Quote for California Today!

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Be prepared and don’t drive uninsured. Coverage from Freeway protects you and other drivers. If you are involved in an accident, you won’t have expensive out-of-pocket medical costs or car repair bills. Get started with a quote online, visit us at a California office near you, or call us at (800) 777-5620 for a quote.