Get a DUI in California and Make Your Insurance Company Richer

car keys and moneyThe risks of driving drunk are well known. The worst consequences, of course, are the possible injury and death that can result from driving impaired. And then there are the punishments: fines, jail time, community service, a mandatory ignition interlock, probation, and the various side effects of a criminal charge.

Often you’ll see “higher insurance rates” mentioned as one of the problems you’ll encounter after a DUI. But how much higher?

In California, a great deal. A new WalletHub survey ranked the states for how much insurance rates rise for drivers who are considered high-risk. That category includes DUIs, and also reckless drivers, speeders, and those who have had two accidents in a year.

Californians who are convicted of drunk driving will pay an average of $1,752 more for car insurance. That rise is second only to Louisiana. California is also among the highest in terms of percentage – the above figure represents a 103% rise. All in all, you can expect to pay about $3,400 to insure your car after a DUI. And since your offense stays on your record for 10 years, if you’re convicted this year you’ll will be paying that amount through 2025.

Is this fair? Why does one conviction cause the insurance companies to turn on you like that?

The reason can be found in a 2010 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study which looked at people with a first DUI conviction. NHTSA found that

  • the annual rate of DUI violations was 7.15 times higher among drivers with 1 prior than among drivers with no prior violations.

In addition, other studies have shown that:

  • More than 80% of DUI offenders have a significant problem in their relationship with alcohol and/or other drugs.
  • A driver usually has to drive impaired between 200 and 2000 times to generate one arrest.

All this adds up to higher risk, and it makes sense for the insurance company to place it on the driver at risk, rather than the pool of drivers who obey the impaired driving laws.

The key word, though, is risk. Insurance companies wouldn’t raise rates on DUI offenders if they didn’t think that there was a good chance they’d eventually be paying out for body work, new vehicles,  and possibly hospital bills. Staying sober behind the wheel, then, makes sense from a financial as well as a safety point of view.