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how a dui affects car insurance premiums

Your driving record plays a major role in determining what you pay for car insurance. And a prior conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) suggests a risky driving history, which translates to higher car insurance rates. We'll explain why insurers are so wary of DUIs.

DUIs = high-risk driving, high-risk driving = higher premiums

The amount you pay for car insurance depends, in part, on what your insurer deems your risk of being in an accident. And drunk driving is incredibly risky and dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tells us that in 2012 alone, drunk driving cost 10,322 people their lives, accounting for 31 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Alcohol (and other intoxicants) affects the central nervous system and impairs driving ability, slowing reaction times and concentration while affecting our ability to monitor speed — a dangerous cocktail, if you ask us. Research shows that, because of these effects, those with .09 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or greater are 11 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than completely sober drivers.

Every state (and D.C.) makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher. And the penalties for a DUI are stiff. State laws vary, but most states, at the very least, levy a fine and suspend or revoke driving privileges.

Direct impact of a DUI on a car insurance premium

The amount will vary depending on individual circumstances — of course — but for a typical one-car/one-driver policy, the average premium could increase by a few hundred dollars.

Find out what a typical DUI conviction may cost, all things considered.

After a conviction: obtaining an SR-22, an FR-44, or an FR-19 form

For those who are caught and convicted of DUIs, certain forms may be required to certify insurance coverage.

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If you haven't heard of an SR-22, an FR-44, or an FR-19 form, you probably don't need one. After a DUI or another major conviction, the state may request that you file a proof of financial responsibility form before driving again. The form proves that you carry the state-mandated amount of car insurance coverage (or more, depending on your state).

Your car insurer will file these forms on your behalf for a fee of around $25. The SR-22 is the most common version, though there are others. Depending on the severity of the offense, Maryland and Delaware drivers may also be required to file an FR-19, and Florida and Virginia residents may need to file an FR-44.

Managing an Esurance policy after a DUI conviction

If you're looking to learn more about how a DUI could affect your rate or coverage requirements, or if you need help submitting DUI-related forms like an SR-22, give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Related links

Other serious moving violations
Find out which moving violations can have the biggest impact on your car insurance premium.

Drunk driving laws by state
The Governors Highway Safety Association breaks down how drunk driving laws in your state stack up against others.

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DUI vs. DWI

What's the difference between a DUI and a DWI? In most cases, driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are interchangeable. Some states use DUI while others favor DWI. A handful of states even use other terms such as OUI (operating under the influence).

A few jurisdictions issue both DWIs and DUIs. In these states, DWI usually refers to alcohol impairment while a DUI charge may be issued to those impaired through some other means, such as illegal or prescription drugs.