Cheap Car Insurance with a DUI in California (2024)

Travelers and SafeAuto have the lowest average rates for a full-coverage policy after a DUI conviction in the state of California.

Janet Berry-Johnson
Janet Berry-Johnson
  • 8+ years writing about insurance, taxes, and personal finance

  • Certified public accountant

Janet applies her experience in personal finance, taxes, and accounting to make complex financial topics accessible. Her byline has appeared on numerous web media.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Updated April 19, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT

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What happens after you get a DUI in California?

Getting a DUI in California can have serious consequences. If the police pull you over, and your blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches or exceeds 0.08% (0.01% if you’re younger than 21), they can arrest and charge you with a DUI. The police officer will also immediately notify the department of motor vehicles (DMV).[1]

Your driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of four months following your first DUI. At the end of the suspension period, you’ll have to pay a $125 fine and show proof of insurance to reinstate your driver’s license.[2]

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DUI penalties in California

The exact penalties you’ll face after a DUI in California depend on how many convictions you’ve had but may include a fine, citation, license suspension, and jail time or probation.[3]

Number of DUI ConvictionsFinesCitationLicense SuspensionJail Time or Probation
First$390 to $1,000MisdemeanorSix-month suspension from criminal court and four-month administrative suspension from DMV (can overlap)Not mandatory if the judge orders three to five years of probation, but it’s possible to receive 48 hours to six months of jail time
Second$390 to $1,000MisdemeanorTwo-year suspension from criminal court and 12-month administrative suspension (can overlap)96 hours to one year in jail, but may be served on house arrest or in an alternative work program; probation for three to five years
Third or more$390 to $1,000MisdemeanorThree-year suspension from criminal court and 12-month administrative suspension (can overlap)Jail sentence of 120 days to one year; three to five years of probation

What penalties do underage drivers with a DUI face?

California has a “zero tolerance” policy for drivers under 21 who drive while impaired, meaning that any detectable amount of alcohol in their system can result in a DUI charge.

If a driver younger than 21 years of age is detained or arrested for a DUI and has a BAC of 0.01% or higher (or refuses to take a test), they’ll face license suspension or revocation.[4] As a result, their driver’s license will be:

  • Suspended for one year for a first offense

  • Revoked for two years for a second offense in 10 years

  • Revoked for three years for three or more offenses in 10 years

In addition to legal consequences, underage drivers with a DUI conviction may also face challenges when it comes to obtaining affordable car insurance. Insurance companies see underage drivers with a DUI as high-risk and may cancel their current policy or significantly raise their rates, making it difficult for them to find affordable coverage in the future.

How much does car insurance cost in California with a DUI?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses a significant risk to the driver, passengers, and other motorists on the road. When a driver receives a DUI or DWI conviction, insurance companies view them as much more likely to get into car accidents, which leads to higher claims and payouts for the insurance company. Auto insurers pass these potentially higher costs to the driver by way of higher premiums.

California drivers with a clean record pay an average of $272 per month for full-coverage auto insurance and $133 per month for liability-only coverage, according to Insurify data. However, having a DUI on your record in California will double the cost of car insurance if you previously had a clean record: Drivers with a DUI on their record pay an average of $541 per month for full coverage and $264 per month for a liability-only policy.

Find the Cheapest Car Insurance After a DUI

Find the Cheapest Car Insurance After a DUI

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Best DUI insurance companies in California

A DUI conviction on your record can make finding affordable car insurance in California difficult. The cheapest car insurance companies in California for drivers with a DUI cater to high-risk drivers and offer reasonable rates.

Safeco, Progressive, and USAA offer the most competitive liability-only rates for drivers with a DUI conviction, starting at $217 per month.

Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote: Liability OnlyAverage Monthly Quote: Full Coverage
Safeco$217$403
Progressive$228$375
USAA$230$454
SafeAuto$235$368
Travelers$248$351
Mercury$253$421
Esurance$289$572
Kemper$305$637
GEICO$306$604
Allstate$317$626
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

When do you need an SR-22 insurance form?

Not technically an insurance policy, an SR-22 certificate of insurance proves to the state that a driver has liability insurance coverage. Drivers who have had their license suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction, reckless driving, or an at-fault accident without insurance typically need to file one.

Your insurance company will need to file the SR-22 form and send it to the DMV. The insurance company essentially confirms you have insurance and agrees to notify the DMV if you change vehicles, cancel your policy, let it lapse, or stop paying your premiums.

In California, drivers required to file an SR-22 must maintain it for at least three years. If you cancel your insurance or let your coverage lapse during this time, the state can immediately suspend your driver’s license.

In California, some insurance companies specialize in providing coverage for drivers who need an SR-22. You should shop around and compare car insurance quotes to find the best option for your needs and budget.

The Complete Guide to SR-22 Insurance

The Complete Guide to SR-22 Insurance

How long will a DUI remain on your record in California?

In California, a DUI conviction will remain on your record for 10 years from the violation date.[5] While that may seem like a long time if you struggle to find affordable car insurance, many other states also keep DUIs on drivers’ records for seven to 10 years or longer. In some states — including Massachusetts, Indiana, New Mexico, Vermont, and Maine — DUIs stay on driving records permanently.

Despite remaining on your record for a decade, your DUI won’t necessarily result in higher insurance rates for that whole period. For example, someone with a DUI conviction from seven years ago who has since had a clean record will likely pay lower rates than someone who received a DUI within the last year.

Can your insurer cancel your coverage after a DUI?

It depends. In California, an auto insurance company can’t cancel your policy mid-term unless you stop making payments. However, your insurer may opt to not renew the policy or raise your rates at the end of its term. This means you must find a new insurance provider when your policy expires.

How can you get more affordable coverage with a DUI in California?

Finding cheap auto insurance can be difficult after getting a DUI, but you can still take steps to find more affordable car insurance:

  • Maintain safe driving habits. A reliable way to qualify for more affordable coverage involves practicing safe driving habits. Avoiding additional traffic violations, such as speeding or reckless driving, can help improve your chances of finding better rates.

  • Utilize discounts. Many auto insurance companies offer discounts to help reduce premiums for policyholders. These discounts may include savings for bundling your home and auto policies, paying your premium in full, or equipping your vehicle with safety equipment or anti-theft features.

  • Take a defensive driving course. In California, you may be required to complete a three-month DUI school program as part of the terms of your probation. Taking this course or another defensive driving course may offer several benefits, including reducing the number of points on your driving record and decreasing your car insurance premiums. Before enrolling in any non-required class, contact your insurance company to see if a course will allow you to qualify for a rate reduction.

  • Compare quotes. Shop for quotes from different providers to get the best rates available. Some insurers may offer more competitive rates or discounts to drivers with DUIs than others, so it pays to compare rates from multiple providers.

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California DUI car insurance FAQs

In addition to anxieties about increased premiums and potential difficulty finding coverage, you’ll likely have many questions when dealing with auto insurance after a DUI.

  • Will insurance cover your vehicle if you got a DUI in California?

    Not usually. Most auto insurance policies have exclusions for illegal activity and intentional acts, including a DUI conviction. If you cause injury or damage while driving under the influence, your insurance company likely won’t cover these costs. In fact, if you were driving while intoxicated, you may be personally responsible for any damage or injuries you caused yourself and others.

  • What is the best car insurance company for a DUI in California?

    It depends. Progressive, SafeAuto, and Travelers offer the lowest average monthly premiums for full-coverage auto insurance after a DUI. Safeco, Progressive, and USAA offer the lowest average monthly premiums for liability-only coverage.

    However, auto insurers determine rates based on various factors, so you should shop around and compare coverage and quotes from multiple companies.

  • Do you need to let your auto insurer know if you get a DUI?

    Though not strictly required, you should call your insurance provider to tell them about your DUI and discuss whether they might choose to not renew your policy in case you need to find an affordable alternative.

    Most states don’t have laws requiring drivers to notify their insurance companies after a DUI, but that doesn’t mean your insurance company won’t find out about the DUI. Insurance companies typically have access to your driving record, which they may check periodically or prior to policy renewal. You may also need to contact your insurance company to get an SR-22, so it’ll find out about your DUI when you call to request one.

  • How much do car insurance rates increase after you get a DUI in California?

    How much your car insurance rates will increase after you get a DUI depends on several factors, including whether you have any other accidents or claims on your driving record and your insurance company’s practices.

    You can expect to pay significantly more for car insurance after a DUI conviction. In California, average auto insurance rates for drivers with a DUI nearly double the rates for drivers with a clean record, according to Insurify data.

Sources

  1. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "California Driver's Handbook." Accessed April 14, 2023
  2. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Driving Under the Influence (DUI)." Accessed April 14, 2023
  3. NOLO. "California's DUI Laws: What are the Penalties?." Accessed April 14, 2023
  4. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Immediate Driver License Suspension: Drivers Under Age 21 0.01% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Zero Tolerance." Accessed April 14, 2023
  5. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Retention of Driver Record Information." Accessed April 14, 2023
Janet Berry-Johnson
Janet Berry-Johnson

Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA is a freelance writer with a background in accounting and income tax planning and preparation. She's passionate about making complicated financial topics accessible to readers. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and son and their rescue dog, Dexter. Visit her website at www.jberryjohnson.com.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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