Drunk Driving - Impact on Insurance Rates

Each state has its own drunk driving laws. Most states consider a 0.08 blood alcohol level (BAL) to be impaired enough to affect a driver's responses. Some states consider a lower BAL for those under 21 years of age. Penalties for drunk driving are considerable depending on the number of previous infractions a driver has on his or her record. Some states are more lenient than others when writing penalties. 

What is DUI, DWI and OWI?

All states use one or more terms to describe drunk driving. Some use both DUI — driving under the influence — and DWI — driving while intoxicated — to differentiate between the severity of infractions. Some even use OWI — operating while intoxicated. Other states use one of the three and do not differentiate between the severity of infractions — drunk driving is drunk driving regardless of your blood alcohol level or previous infractions.


Penalties vary from state to state, including temporary revocation of the drunk driver's license, fines and jail time. The revocation of a license prior to conviction is known as an administrative license suspension. As of 2013, 41 states and the District of Columbia use administrative license suspension. If a driver's license is temporarily revoked, the driver could apply for a hardship license. If a hardship license is granted, the driver's driving privileges are severely restricted. Often, the driver is only allowed to drive back and forth to work or school. 

Some states permanently revoke a driver's license if that driver is convicted of drunk driving, though permanent revocation is usually in those states with a "three strikes" law. 

How Getting a Drunk Driving Charge Affects Your Insurance?

As with any moving violation and points on your license, any drunk driving charge that you are convicted of could increase your insurance rates. Since driving and drinking shows irresponsibility, the insurance company now figures that you are a higher risk and will adjust rates accordingly. Furthermore, insurance companies will not take the chance that such an incident won't happen again. 

Being convicted of drunk driving carries heavy penalties, including financial penalties in the form of higher insurance premiums. These penalties could affect you for the rest of your life. You may have a criminal record that could cost you the ability to get certain work, obtain credit or an apartment and will cost you extra in insurance premiums — if your insurance company does not elect to drop your policy. 

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