How long does a DUI affect your auto insurance?

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Things to remember...

  • How long a DUI remains on a driving record varies from state to state
  • Barring an expungement, a DUI does not drop from a criminal record
  • High-risk insurance policies are commonly purchased by those whose DUI record forces premiums to be high
  • High premiums are a reaction the potential added risk a driver with a DUI record presents

An insurance rate is, in part, based on the past driving history of the person seeking insurance. Minor traffic violations cease to be so minor when insurance rates go up dramatically due to getting a speeding ticket.

At least moving violations do not remain a severe mark on a driving record forever. In time, they drop off the DMV’s reporting and cease to cause problems for persons hoping to acquire fair insurance rates.

Things do get a lot more complicated for drivers who have been arrested for driving under the influence.

  • Civil penalties and criminal charges may be levied against someone who got behind the wheel of a car impaired.
  • Insurance rates may go up dramatically.
  • A number of insurance companies would not even wish to insure someone whose background revealed a DUI.

Does the dark cloud of past DUI troubles haunt a driver forever? Or is there a timeframe in which a DUI conviction ceases to ruin the chances of getting fair insurance rates?

Information related to a DUI or any other negative mark on a driver’s record is going to be taken into consideration by an insurance company when crafting a rate. As long as the insurance company has access to the information, the rate is likely going to remain affected.

Compare car insurance rates to find the best price for coverage whatever your history may be. Enter your zip code above to begin.

How long will a DUI remain on a driving record?

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The specific state in which the driver was arrested and cited for a DUI answers this question through its legal statutes. Be aware the state in which the incident occurs has jurisdiction over any sanctions and not the state of the driver’s residence.

A New Jersey resident who is pulled over for a DUI in Vermont would be dealing with Vermont’s criminal and traffic laws.

Each state regulates its record of moving violations and infractions differently. The duration of a DUI’s record with the DMV is usually in the five-year range, but certain states may extend the length of time substantially.

Examples of states with very lengthy durations include:

As long as this information remains on a driving record, then the insurance company will clearly see it.

Even when the time elapses and a decision is made to switch to a new insurance company, a DMV record may be cleared but a criminal record still remains in place.

And yes, auto insurance companies do perform a criminal background check on applicants. All this is done to determine how much risk the driver poses to the insurance company.

The Expungement Strategy


An option exists those with a criminal record for a DUI. An expungement would, essentially, eradicate the record of the criminal conviction.

The rules and requirements regarding expunging a DUI criminal conviction vary from state to state.

Depending on the jurisdiction, expungement might not even be an available option.

In Alaska, for example, DUI and other criminal records are not eligible to be expunged at all.

Unfortunately, expunging a criminal record does not affect the DMV record. A criminal record and a driving record are two different things. The DMV record will stay unchanged until the statutory term — if any — is up.

Drivers with a DUI conviction should not be under the automatic assumption they are stuck waiting out the DMV’s logs or being unable to find decent auto insurance.

Simple comparison shopping may lead to discovering a fair rate. High-risk drivers would be well-served reviewing a significant number of quotes since their background creates complexities.

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Why would a long-in-the-past DUI negatively affect auto insurance rates?

Auto insurance companies must assess the level of risk a driver presents. The background of someone who has no criminal convictions, no traffic citations, and no claims against an insurance company does not exactly paint the picture of a person who is a serious risk.

Although an applicant might present a picture-perfect past performance in his/her driving record, no one knows what the future brings forth.

The driver may make a very rare error in judgment and end up at fault for an accident. Regardless, the insurance company can only go by established and documented records of events or transgressions that actually occurred.

A clean record means lower rates. A tarnished record is going to see higher premiums.

An existing record of a DUI that occurred seven years ago reflects risk. Even if the driver has not been convicted of any DUI violations in the subsequent seven years, the fact remains the driver has been established to drive under the influence.

Insurance companies take such information very seriously.

In 2016, 28 people died per day in the United States in DUI-related accidents. In providing $500,000 in liability coverage to someone with a past DUI, the insurance company must take into consideration the current and future potential for the driver to drink and drive.

Furthermore, the insurance provider must look at the statistics of DUI-related accidents and fatalities.

When an insurance company takes on added risk, the company opts to charge higher premiums to offset the costs of such risks.

The High-Risk Policy


While a DUI does make purchasing auto insurance more costly, finding an appropriate policy is not impossible. Numerous insurance providers are capable of underwriting “non-standard insurance” policies.

Non-standard insurance can refer to high-risk drivers. A person with a DUI in his or her background would surely fall under the category of high-risk.

Although the policies may not be “standard” ones, the way process of searching and applying for one is not likely to change.

Check the Duration

Clear confirmation regarding how long a DUI stays on a driving record can be ascertained by performing basic research through a state’s DMV.

Requesting a copy of a driving record after the time period in which the DUI is supposed to drop off would be a prudent investment. This way, a confirmation about whether or not the record has been properly amended can be made.

If a current insurance provider is charging higher rates due to a DUI, contacting the company and asking how long the DUI is going to have an adverse effect could be done.

Inquiring about ways to offset the added costs through any available discounts may be wise.

Periodically requesting quotes from other insurance companies is another option. Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool below to get started comparing quotes.

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