1. How much does a DUI raise your insurance in California?
But average rates vary depending on the company, which is why drivers should comparison-shop auto insurance quotes for the best rates.
The following are some cheap car insurance companies for drivers convicted of a first-time DUI in California:
|DUI Car Insurance Provider||Average Annual Car Insurance Costs After DUI|
Other, lesser-known insurers that offer the cheapest car insurance include:
- Aspire General Insurance
- Bristol West
- Freedom National
- National General
- Sun Coast General Insurance Agency, Inc.
Insurers consider people with DUI convictions and license suspensions as high risk. But insurance carriers take many factors into account when calculating premiums, including:
- marital status,
- driving experience and driving history,
- residence, and
- homeowner or renter status.
Rate hikes are common following traffic violations, including reckless driving (VC 23103), racing, and at-fault accidents. But DUIs cause the highest increases. Allstate offers some of the most expensive insurance policies following a DUI.1
2. How long does a DUI affect your car insurance in California?
Most insurance carriers (including Progressive) start to reduce a driver’s insurance rates within three to five years following the date of the DUI conviction. Sometimes it takes up to seven years or longer for insurers to completely disregard past DUIs when calculating premiums.2
3. How long after a DUI can you get regular insurance?
California law requires that all drivers carry auto insurance, so the state has a duty to ensure that everyone can obtain coverage at any time. Brokers can often help DUI defendants find the best car insurance for them. Failing that, people can apply for liability coverage through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP).
CAARP is a program that matches high-risk drivers with companies willing to insure them. These companies will issue policies to drivers who are unable to obtain high-risk or SR-22 coverage on their own after a DUI. CAARP coverage can be obtained through any auto insurance agent or broker or by calling 1-800-622-0954.3
4. Do I have to report my DUI to my insurance company?
Motorists in California are not required to notify their auto insurance company about DUI arrests, DUI convictions, or driver’s license suspensions.4 But motorists are required to tell their insurer if they were involved in an accident, DUI-related or not.
California insurance carriers often do find out about past DUI cases when either:
- The company runs a background check when the driver’s existing policy comes up for renewal.
- The company runs a background check when a driver applies for a new policy.
- The driver self-reports the conviction to the insurer.
- The arrest results from an accident, and the driver or another party reports it to the insurance company and/or California DMV. Or
- The driver asks the insurer to send the California DMV an SR-22 form (which is required to reinstate a suspended license or grant a new one following a DUI).
5. What is SR-22?
The SR-22 certifies that a driver has auto liability insurance that meets California’s minimum coverage limits of “15/30/5”. This means that for any single accident, the driver’s liability coverage will pay up to:
- $15,000 for the death or bodily injury of one person,
- $30,000 total for the wrongful death or bodily liability of all people hurt or killed in the accident, and
- $5,000 for property damage.
Note that DUI defendants typically need to keep their SR-22 “proof of insurance” for three years. If they let their insurance lapse, the SR-22 will be revoked. Then the DMV will re-suspend the person’s license. Note that cheaper, non-owner SR-22 insurance is available to people who do not have a motor vehicle.5
6. Can my car insurance be canceled after a DUI?
California law prohibits insurers from canceling auto insurance policies before the policy term ends, even after a DUI. But once the policy comes up for renewal, the carrier can legally:
- cancel the policy; or
- offer a renewal on different terms, such as a higher premium.
And by law, insurers who renew policies to DUI drivers must remove their “good driver discount.”6
7. Will getting my record expunged lower my premiums?
No. Expunging a California DUI conviction removes it only from your criminal record. An expungement will not erase your DUI conviction from your California driving record.
A DUI stays on a driver’s California DMV record for a “lookback period” of 10 years. This means that an expunged offense will not save money in premiums for as long as an offense remains on the record.7
8. What are standard DUI penalties?
The punishment for drunk driving in California depends on whether the defendant has any prior DUIs in the 10-year lookback period. And first-time defendants can generally avoid jail by doing probation or agreeing to alternative work programs or home confinement (“house arrest”).
|California DUI offense (VC 23152(a))||Jail time||Fine||Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) period||DUI School|
|1st offense misdemeanor DUI||2 days to 6 months in county jail||$390 to $1,000||6 months (otherwise, the DMV would suspend the person’s license for 4 months; after 30 days, he/she could get a restricted license allowing him/her to drive to and from work for 5 months)||3 or 9 months|
|2nd offense misdemeanor DUI||96 hours to 1 year in county jail||$390 to $1,000||1 year (if the defendant chooses not to get an IID, the license suspension period is 2 years; after 1 year, the defendant can get a restricted license allowing him/her to drive to and from work for 1 year)||18 or 30 months|
|3rd offense misdemeanor DUI||120 days to 1 year in county jail||$390 to $1,000||2 years (if the defendant chooses not to get an IID, the license suspension period will be 3 years)||30 months8|
Note that drivers still face repeat-DUI charges in California if their prior convictions were in other states. The district attorney checks national databases for past convictions when bringing DUI charges. And all states’ DMVs update the NDR (National Driver Register) within 31 days of every license suspension, denial, and revocation.
Also note that California has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Therefore, motorists under 21 face penalties for driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01% or higher.
|California offense ||BAC||Penalties (1st offense)|
|“Zero tolerance” — VC 23136||.01% to less than 0.05%||Civil offense: 1-year driver’s license suspension|
|Underage DUI — VC 23140||.05% to less than 0.08%||Infraction: 1-year driver’s license suspension; $100 fine; and an alcohol education program|
Meanwhile, DUIs that cause serious injuries or death are automatic felonies. Learn more about vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (PC 191.5(b)) and DUI murder.
For more discussion, see our article on how much does a DUI cost in California?
- How long does a DUI affect insurance in California? Wallet Hub (August 5, 2021); Ross Martin, California Car Insurance with a DUI, The Zebra (June 10, 2021).
- California Vehicle Codes 16000 – 16078 (“The Compulsory Financial Responsibility Act”).
- See California Vehicle Code 23152 VC. There is nothing about requiring drivers to notify their insurers following a DUI arrest.
- California Insurance Code 16056(a). See, for example, State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Superior Court, (Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, 1989) 215 Cal. App. 3d 1455. See, for example, Colonial Ins. Co. v. Montoya (Court of Appeal of California, Fifth Appellate District, 1986) 184 Cal. App. 3d 74. Note that only Virginia and Florida require FR44 insurance, which is evidence that the driver has higher liability limits.
- See, for example, California Insurance Code 1861.025c.
- California Vehicle Code 1808b1 VC.
- California Vehicle Codes 23536 VC, 23540 VC, 23646 VC, and 23566 VC.