Compare Car Insurance Rates
Enter your zip code to shop for the best rates in your area

Powered by 

Key Points:

  • A DUI or DWI offense can raise your car insurance rate by an average of 80 percent.
  • On average, the cheapest full-coverage car insurance for a driver with a DUI is from State Farm at $2,180 per year.
  • Michigan, California, and North Carolina have the highest average car insurance premiums for drivers with a DUI.

If you’re charged with a DUI or DWI, a law enforcement officer deemed you too intoxicated to operate a vehicle. The definitions of the two acronyms vary from state to state, as do their penalties. The damage that driving under the influence can do to your driving record and insurance rate is significant.

In this article, we’ll explain what a DUI or DWI charge is, the most common penalties for them, and how they can affect your insurance premium. We’ll also recommend a couple of the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers.

DUI Vs. DWI: What’s The Difference?

Though the details vary from state to state, being charged with a DUI or a DWI generally means a law enforcement officer determined you were intoxicated and unable to drive safely. DUI and DWI may sound identical, but some states classify them as separate crimes.

The term DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and DWI stands for “driving while impaired” or “driving while intoxicated.” Both terms refer to driving while being impaired by drugs or alcohol. Depending on where you live, you may also see terms with other acronyms:

  • OWI: operating while intoxicated
  • OUI: operating under the influence
  • DWAI: driving while ability impaired
  • DUAC: driving with unlawful alcohol concentration

These may be the same as DUI or DWI charges, though some states treat them differently.

Because each state has its own term for impaired driving, it’s a little difficult to draw a clear distinction between DUI vs. DWI. We recommend researching your local laws to find out if the terms are different and what factors contribute to each.

How Are DUIs And DWIs Measured?

If you’re pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence, you may be subjected to a field sobriety test. Police officers use these tests–which assess reaction time, motor skills, and ability to focus one’s eyes–to establish probable cause for arresting someone on DUI or DWI. Officers can estimate a person’s blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) based on how they perform during the test.

The federal legal BAC limit is 0.08 percent, which most states set as their benchmark for drunken driving. Utah has a lower legal limit: 0.05 percent. Most states set a lower legal limit for underage drivers and those who operate commercial vehicles. In those cases, penalties are also much higher.

If you fail a field sobriety test, you may be subject to a Breathalyzer test, which measures your BAC.

What Are Zero-Tolerance DUI Laws?

Though the federal government set the legal BAC limit at 0.08 percent, every state has a lower legal BAC level for underage drivers. Every state has a zero-tolerance law for underage drinking and driving, so if you’re under the age of 21, it’s a criminal offense to drive with any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.

The table below compares the federal BAC limit with each state’s zero-tolerance limit.

StateFederal BAC LevelZero-Tolerance BAC Level
District of Columbia0.080
New Hampshire0.080.02
New Jersey0.080.01
New Mexico0.080.02
New York0.080.02
North Carolina0.080
North Dakota0.080.02
Rhode Island0.080.02
South Carolina0.080.02
South Dakota0.080.02
West Virginia0.080.02

DUI Fatality Statistics

In its most recent Overview of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 13,384 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in 2021. That number represented a 14 percent increase from 2020. In that same study, the NHTSA estimated that around 31 percent of deaths that result from car accidents involve drunken drivers.

What’s The Most Common Penalty For A DUI Or DWI?

Penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction vary from state to state. In almost every case, first offenses result in a temporary suspension of the person’s driver’s license and a fine that usually ranges from $500 to $2,000. These driver’s license suspensions can last anywhere from three months to a year.

Other penalties, especially for repeated violations, may include jail time, community service, or completion of a mandated drug and alcohol education class. Drivers with multiple DUI convictions may need to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles to check their breath before driving. Some may lose their driving privileges altogether.

If a driver causes injury, damages property, or endangers the life of a child, penalties can be even more severe.

If you’re facing a DUI or DWI charge, it’s a good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Many offer free consultations.

Do I Need An SR-22 After A DUI Or DWI Conviction?

In some cases, you may be required to file an SR-22 form (or possibly an FR-44 if you live in Virginia or Florida) with your state to regain your driving privileges. This form is provided by your car insurance company and filed with your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV).

An SR-22 or FR-44 isn’t an insurance policy. Rather, it serves as proof to the state that you’ve purchased the minimum amount of insurance required to legally drive.

How Will A DUI Or A DWI Affect My Auto Insurance Rate?

For people convicted of DUIs or DWIs, car insurance premiums increase by an average of 80 percent. How much more you’ll pay if you’re convicted depends on what company you’re insured with, where you live, and your previous driving record. The data on average insurance costs in the sections below are based on 35-year-old male drivers.

How Much Will A DUI Or DWI Cost Me?

Below are the average costs of full-coverage car insurance for a male driver with a DUI or DWI conviction. The cheapest large and midsize companies for these motorists are typically State Farm, American Family Insurance, and USAA.

ProviderAverage Annual Cost
State Farm$2,180
American Family Insurance$2,211
Erie Insurance$2,326
Auto-Owners Insurance$2,971

*USAA is only available to military members, veterans, and their families.

Average Car Insurance Rates After A DUI Or DWI

Each state has its own auto insurance regulations. In almost every case, getting a DUI conviction will cause your car insurance rate to skyrocket. On average, the states where you’ll pay the most for full-coverage auto insurance after a DUI are Michigan, California, and North Carolina.

ProviderAverage Annual Cost
State Farm$2,180
American Family Insurance$2,211
Erie Insurance$2,326
Auto-Owners Insurance$2,971

DUI Vs. DWI: Conclusion

If you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are caught by law enforcement, you may be charged with a DUI or DWI. If you’re pulled over, police may subject you to field sobriety tests or breath tests to determine your impairment and BAC. Getting a DUI or DWI conviction will result in legal penalties and much higher car insurance costs.

DUI Vs. DWI: Recommended Providers

Below are two providers we recommend if you have a DUI or DWI on your record: Geico and Progressive.

Compare Car Insurance Rates
Enter your zip code to shop for the best rates in your area

Powered by 

Geico: Best Discounts

Geico is a good choice for drivers with DUI or DWI convictions because it has some of the lowest average insurance rates on the market, even for high-risk drivers. The company also has a usage-based insurance program, DriveEasy, which tracks driving habits to calculate a discount.

Progressive: Best Usage-Based Insurance

Progressive specializes in offering car insurance to high-risk drivers, which includes motorists with DUI or DWI convictions. Because car insurance is much more expensive after a DUI, Progressive’s Snapshot telematics insurance program can help drivers improve their habits and save money in the process.


How We Rate Insurers

Our review process aims to deliver consistent and unbiased assessments of car insurance providers. While there are multiple qualities that make a car insurance company successful, our review team focuses on those we believe are the most important for consumers:


  • Cost: Cost can be difficult to compare between insurers because so many factors impact annual premiums. The cheapest insurer for one driver may not be the cheapest for another. To determine our cost score, we look at insurance rate estimates generated by Quadrant Information Services, discount opportunities, and consumer reports.
  • Coverage: To determine our coverage score, we look at the number of coverage options available as well as coverage limits and deductible options. Our ratings also take into account additional services and benefits like roadside assistance.
  • Reliability: It’s important that an auto insurer is able to meet its claims obligations. Companies with a strong financial strength rating from AM Best score best in this category. Established insurers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive marks.
  • Service: We comb through customer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn about customer experiences. Insurers with a low volume of complaints score well in this area. We also consider the claims process, giving higher ratings to car insurance providers that offer easy-to-use claims apps.


**Data accurate at time of publication.