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What is DUI Insurance?

Promotional image of Freeway Insurance: Illustration shows a driver being pulled over by the police.

After a DUI conviction, drivers may find it more challenging to get insurance. Those drivers that do are often covered by what they call DUI insurance; however, there is no such thing as DUI insurance per se. Insurance providers who specialize in insuring high-risk individuals, like those convicted of a DUI, may market DUI insurance as an accessible and affordable option for high-risk drivers. Many newly established insurance providers offer this line of coverage to help drivers get back on the road and on with their lives, so shop around for the best rates.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of non-natural deaths in the U.S. today. Distracted drivers and driving while under the influence (DUIs) of intoxicants are the top contributors to this trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration carries the mission to “save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes.” It reports that drunk driving results in the death of a person nearly every hour:

  • Every day, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 52 minutes. In 2019, these deaths reached the lowest percentage since 1982 when NHTSA started reporting alcohol data — but still 10,142 people lost their lives. These deaths were all preventable. (NHTSA)

What is a DUI?

A DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and refers to driving while legally intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics or prescription medications. Prescription drugs like muscle relaxers impair a driver’s ability to react on the road, and having a prescription from a doctor is not an acceptable defense in court.

It is illegal to drive while intoxicated in every state, and the penalties for drivers who break these laws are steep. The legal limit for intoxication across the board is a BAC of 0.08% or a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. But penalties can begin at as little as 0.02%.

In a word of caution, it doesn’t take many drinks to reach a BAC of 0.08%. Depending on the type of alcohol (liquor, beer, or wine), gender, and lean weight, it could take a drinker as little as one drink or five drinks in an hour to reach 0.08%. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), consuming 2.5 drinks for males and 2 drinks for females in an hour is easily enough to bring BAC to 0.08%.

Contrary to what might be popularly believed, your drinking tolerance doesn’t matter. Even if you feel you consider yourself a veteran drinker, a high tolerance simply means you need a higher BAC to experience the same effects. In actuality, a high tolerance works against you because if you’ve been drinking but feel normal and get behind the wheel, already you could have exceeded the legal limit but unable to tell. Exceeding the legal limit can incur severe penalties, including extended jail time, DUI school, and community service.

Do I need to take the breathalyzer test if the police pull me over?

Yes. The trend for the past few decades has been to tighten laws on drunk driving, legal limits used to be 0.15% before they were reduced to 0.08%. A part of enforcement measures is the police’s ability to require a field test and chemical breathalyzer test of drivers suspected of driving intoxicated.

Because of laws of “implied consent,” you are bound by specific rules when you drive your car, even though you don’t explicitly agree to them. Exactly as the law protects people within its jurisdiction without their explicit agreement, when you apply for a driver’s license, as a motorist, you consent to the rules of the road. That means you’ve already given consent to field sobriety tests and chemical tests by the act of driving.

Because the law is trying to make it harder for drunk drivers, refusal to submit to field tests and breathalyzers has penalties. Suppose the requesting police officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence, and the driver refuses. In that case, they can be charged with a DUI for refusal or have an automatic suspension of their license and additional penalties and possible jail time.

What’s the Difference Between a DUI, DWI, DWAI, OVUII?

Most of the acronyms associated with DUIs, like DWI, DWAI, and OVUII, are used interchangeably to mean the same thing as driving under the influence. However, below are some distinctions that may be honored by different state, county, and city laws.

  • DUI — Driving Under the Influence is the most common reference to driving intoxicated with a BAC greater than 0.08%
  • DWI — Driving While Intoxicated is often interchangeably used with DUI. However, in some jurisdictions, it may specifically refer to driving with a BAC greater than 0.08%, whereas a DUI would be driving with a BAC of less than 0.08%
  • DWAI — Driving While Ability Impaired distinguishes between DWAI by alcohol, DWAI by drugs, and DWAI by a combination. New York is an example that makes this distinction. Conviction of DWAI by alcohol carries a lesser penalty than DWAI by drugs or combination. While DWAI by alcohol has a maximum jail term of 15 days, DWAI by drugs (illegal or prescription) has a maximum term of 1 year. There are more penalties for each class.
  • OVUII — Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant distinguishes between driving and operating. Simply being intoxicated and behind the wheel of a car can lead to an OVUII charge. However, juries will be asked to consider several factors to determine if the person charged was in control of the vehicle at the time.
    • Where was the driver located? Were they in the driver’s seat?
    • Where was the car located? Was it pulled off on a curb?
    • Where were the keys? Were they in the driver’s pocket?
    • Was the car engine on or off?
    • Was the driver awake or sleeping?

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Driving Record?

A DUI mark on your record can stay for years, depending on the state’s laws where the violation occurred. Depending on the egregiousness of the offense, a DUI may end up on both your driving record and your criminal record and require you to disclose this fact to future employers. First-time DUIs are often classified as misdemeanors, but if your BAC is significantly high, or you were cited for an offense like reckless driving, you could as well be charged with a felony. A DUI is a serious offense and can set a driver back significantly.

In most cases, a DUI is never removed from your record. “Taking a DUI off your record” doesn’t actually happen. What courts use is called the “look-back” period, and that period usually is 5-10 years. Some states have a lifetime look-back, like Texas. This means that prior DUI convictions within the look-back period can be considered in your ruling in subsequent cases.

Additionally, a driver will have points assigned to their record for getting a DUI. This amount can range widely—for example, Arkansas will assign 14 points that remain for three years, while California gives 2 points and suspends your license when receiving 4 points in a year. Also, additional penalties may be applied beyond points, like in Texas, which puts a DUI on a driver’s record for life, with an annual surcharge of $1,000 for three years.

Also, thanks to the Driver License Compact, once you get a DUI in one state, driving records in all the other states will show your conviction.

For your state points and penalties, see the table below.

How does DUI affect you and your insurance rates?

There are a few ways a DUI will impact your driving privileges after you receive a conviction.

  • Your insurance rates will go up, or your insurance will cancel your policy and leave you to find DUI insurance
  • Any jobs that require you to drive must be informed of your DUI status
  • Your license will be suspended, but if your license hasn’t been suspended, then likely you’re one infraction away from suspension

How do I get my license back after a DUI conviction?

Regaining your license is possible if your violations are not severe. It’s best to seek specialized legal help for DUI convictions, which will increase your chances of successfully getting back your license. If you’re facing criminal charges, you will definitely need to have legal representation to help you navigate the courts. If your situation is not as severe as that, you will need to follow these steps or the appropriate procedure given by your DMV or court.

  1. Obtain an SR-22 — SR-22s are completed through an insurer who is willing to assign you a policy. An SR-22 is a notification to the state DMV that you carry at least the minimum insurance.
  2. Enroll in DUI school — DUI school benefits are state-dependent. If allowed, completing a sanctioned course can reduce your points. Many states do not allow taking a course to reduce penalties and points from DUI convictions.
  3. Obtain affordable auto coverage — A requirement of the SR-22, finding an affordable insurer is possible; however, your new premiums could be much higher, as much as 80%-100% higher.
  4. Install an ignition interlock device in your car — Many states require that you install an ignition interlock device to insure you only operate your vehicle while sober.

Penalties For DUI Conviction by State

State Min. Jail Fines & Fees Administrative License Suspension/Revocation (1st/2nd/3rd Offense)

Mandatory Alcohol Education and Treatment/Assessment

Is Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Is an Ignition Interlock Device Possible?

AL None $600 to $2,100 90d/ 1y/ 3ys Both No No
AK Min. 72 hours 1500 90d/ 1y/ 3ys Both Yes Yes
AZ Min. 24 hours $250 base fine 90d/ 360d/ 360d Both Yes Yes
AR 24 hours to 1 year $150 to $1,000 120d/ 24m/ 30m Both Yes Yes
CA 4 days to 6 months $1,400 to $2,600 6m/ 2y/ 3y Both (Education if under 21) Yes Yes
CO Up to 1 year (DUI), or up to 180 days (DWAI) Up to $1,000 (DUI), or up to $500 (DWAI) 9m/ 1y/ 2y Both No Yes
CT 2 days up to 6 months $500 to $1,000 1y/ 3y/ permanent Both No 2nd offense
DE Max. 6 months $500 to $1,1500 12-24m/ 24-30/ 24-36m Both Yes Yes
DC Max 90 days $300 to $1,100 6m/ 2y/ 3ys No No Yes
FL 6 to 9 months $500 to $2,000 180 days/ 5y/ 10ys Both Yes Yes
GA 24 hours to 1 year $300 to $1,000 1y/ 3y/ 5y Both Yes 2nd offense
HI None $150 to $1,000 3m/ 1y/ 1-5y Both No Yes
ID Up to 6 months Up to $1,000 90d/ 1y/ 1-5y No No Yes
IL Up to 1 year Up to $2,500 1y/ 5y/ up to 10y Possible Yes 2nd offense
IN 60 days to 1 year $500 to $5,000 2 y/ 180d-2y/ 180d No Yes Yes
IA 48 hours up to 1 year $625 to $1,200 180d/ 2y/ 6y Education 2nd offense Yes
KS 48 hour min. $750 to $1,000 30d/ 1y/ 1y Either (not both) No 2nd offense
KY None $600 to $2,100 90d/ 1y/ 3ys Both Yes Yes
LA 2 days to 6 months $1,000 90d/ 1y/ 2y Treatment/Assessment 3rd offense 2nd offense
ME 30 days $500 90d/ 3y/ 6ys Both Yes Yes
MD Up to 1 year (DUI); up to 2 months (DWI) Up to $1,000 (DUI); up to $500 (DWI) 6m/ 1 y/ 18m Yes No Yes
MA Up to 30 months $500 to $5,000 90d/ 3y/ 6y Both Yes Yes
MI Up to 93 days From $100 to $500 6m/ 1y/ 1y Both 2nd offense 2nd offense
MN Up to 90 days 1000 90d/ 180d/ 1y Treatment/Assessment – 3rd offense 3rd offense Yes
MS Up to 48 hours $250 to $1,000 90d/ 2y/ 5y Both 3rd offense Yes
MO Up to 6 months Up to $500 30d/ 1y/ 1y Both in limited circumstances Yes
MT 2 days to 6 months $300 to $1,000 6m/ 1y/ 1y Both 3rd offense Yes
NE 7 to 60 days Up to $500 60d/ 1y/ 2-15y No No Yes
NV 2 days to 6 months $400 to $1,000 90d/ 1y/ 3y Both – in limited circumstances No Yes
NH None $500 to $1,200 6m/ 3y/ 5y-Indefinitely Both No Yes
NJ Up to 30 days $250 to $500 7m/ 2y/ 10y Both No Yes
NM Up to 90 days Up to $500 1y/ 2y/ 3y Both No 2nd offense
NY None $500 to $1,000 6m 1y/ 6y Both 2nd offense Yes
NC 24 hours (for level 5 offender) (however, if 3 aggravated factors are present — Level 1A — minimum of 12 months) $200 (for level 5 offender) 60d-1y/ 1-4y/ 1yr-Indefinitely Both – in limited circumstances 4th offense Yes
ND None $500 to $750 91d/ 1y/ 2y Treatment/Assessment 2nd offense Yes
OH 3 days to 6 months $250 to $1,000 6m/ 1-5y/ 1-10y Treatment/Assessment – 3rd off. 4th offense Yes
OK 5 days to 1 year Up to $1,000 30d/ 6m/ 1y Both – in limited circumstances in limited circumstances Yes
OR 2 days or 80 hours community services $1,000 to $6,250 1y/ 3y/ Indefinitely Both Yes Yes
PA None $300 Up to 1y/ 1y/ 1y Both – 2nd offense Yes 2nd offense
RI Up to 1 year $100 to $500 2-18m/ 1-2y/ 2y Both 3rd offense Yes
SC 48 hours to 90 days $400 to $1,000 6m/ 1y/ 2y Both – in limited circumstances 4th offense Yes
SD Up to 1 year $1,000 30d-1 yr/ 180 days-1yr/ 1y or more No No No
TN 48 hours up to 11 months $350 to $1,500 1y/ 2y/ 3-10y Both – in limited circumstances 2nd offense Yes
TX 3 to 180 days Up to $2,000 90d-1 yr/ 180d/ 180d-2yrs No 3rd offense in limited circumstances
UT 48 hours min. $700 min. 120d/ 2y/ 2yr Both No Yes
VT Up to 2 years Up to $750 90d/ 18m/ permanent Education – in limited circumstances 3rd offense No
VA Min. 5 days Min. $250 1y/ 3y/ permanent Both Yes Yes
WA 24 hours to 1 year $865.50 to $5,000 90d/ 2y/ 3y Both 2nd offense Yes
WV Up to 6 months $100 to $1,000 15=45d/ 1y/ 1y Both – in limited circumstances No Yes
WI None $150 to $300 6m/ 1y/ 2y Both – in limited circumstances 3rd offense Yes
WY Up to 6 months Up to $750 90d/ 1y/ 3y Treatment/Assessment – 3rd offense No Yes

How long do points and DUIs stay on record in every state?

State Record Lifetime Points Points Lifetime
Alabama 5 years 6 points 2 years
Alaska For life 10 points 2 points off every 2 years
Arizona 5 years 8 points 3 years
Arkansas 5 years 14 points 3 years
California 10 years 2 points 13 years
Colorado 10 years 8 points 2 years
Connecticut 10 years 3 points 2 years
Delaware 5 years Extra penalties N/A
Florida 75 years Extra penalties 3 years
Georgia 10 years Extra penalties 2 years
Hawaii 5 years No point system N/A
Idaho For life Extra penalties 3 years
Illinois For life No point system N/A
Indiana For life 8 points 2 years
Iowa 12 years No point system N/A
Kansas For life No point system N/A
Kentucky 5 years Extra penalties 2 years
Louisiana 10 years No point system N/A
Maine For life Extra penalties 1 year
Maryland 5 years 12 points 3 years
Massachusetts 10 years 5 points 6 years
Michigan 7 years 6 points 2 years
Minnesota 10 years No point system N/A
Mississippi 5 years No point system N/A
Missouri 10 years 8 points 1.5 years
Montana 5 years 10 points 3 years
Nebraska 12 years 6 points 2 years
Nevada 7 years Extra penalties 1 year
New Hampshire 10 years 6 points 3 years
New Jersey 10 years Extra penalties N/A
New Mexico 55 years Extra penalties 1 year
New York 15 years Extra penalties 1.5 years
North Carolina 7 years Extra penalties 3 years
North Dakota 7 years Extra penalties 3 years
Ohio For life 6 points 3 years
Oklahoma 10 years Extra penalties 3 years
Oregon For life No point system N/A
Pennsylvania 10 years Extra penalties 3 points off per year
Rhode Island 5 years No point system N/A
South Carolina 10 years Extra penalties 2 years
South Dakota 10 years 10 points Varies
Tennessee For life Extra penalties 2 years
Texas For life 2 points 3 years
Utah 10 years Extra penalties 2 years
Vermont For life Extra penalties 2 years
Virginia 11 years Extra penalties 2 years
Washington 15 years No point system N/A
West Virginia 10 years Extra penalties 2 years
Wisconsin 10 years 6 points 5 years
Wyoming 10 years No point system N/A

Get a Custom DUI Insurance Quote Today!

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Having a DUI does not mean that you can’t get back on the road with great and affordable coverage. Freeway is here to help you start fresh. Get a quote online, visit us at an office near you, or call us at (800) 777-5620 for a quote.