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DWI vs. DUI: Is there a Difference? (2022) - Insurify

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Amy Beardsley

By: Amy Beardsley

Edited by Jackie Cohen

Last Updated June 15, 2022

Why you can trust Insurify

Insurify partners with top insurance companies and is a licensed agent in all 50 states. However, the insurance experts writing our content operate independently of our partners. Check out reviews from over 3,000 satisfied customers, how we make money, our data methodology, and our editorial standards.

You’ve probably heard of a DUI and a DWI. But what are they? And how are they different? The terms are very similar, and in many states, DUI and DWI are used interchangeably. Depending on where you live, your state laws could draw important distinctions between the two.

Besides being a blemish on your driving record, DUIs and DWIs can have negative financial effects—fines, increased car insurance rates, and other penalties. Fortunately, Insurify is here to help you find the cheapest car insurance quotes. Here’s what you need to know about DWI vs. DUI and how to find cheap car insurance if you have one on your driving record.

Quick Facts

  • A DUI (driving under the influence) and a DWI (driving while intoxicated) are often interchangeable; in some states, however, the two are separate charges and have different penalties.
  • DUIs and DWIs will both affect your driving record and your insurance rates.
  • DUIs and DWIs will stay on your record for 5 to 10 years in most states.

Cost of Car Insurance with a DUI or DWI

What is a DWI vs a DUI?

In many states, the terms DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are used interchangeably. However, some states distinguish between the two and consequences for one could be more serious than consequences for the other.

How much will you pay for car insurance with a DUI or DWI? It depends. Your cost may be higher or lower than the average premiums in your state. Some car insurance companies are more forgiving of a drunk driving conviction than others.

Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
Amigo USA$107
National General$174
Liberty Mutual$187
Bristol West$223
The General$264
Commonwealth Casualty$301
Disclaimer: actual quotes may vary based on the policyholder's unique driver profile.

Generally, car insurance rates for drivers with a DUI or DWI can be several times more than premiums before the conviction. Fortunately, you can find some relief with Insurify. It is a cinch to find the lowest price on car insurance after getting a DUI or DWI by comparison-shopping with multiple carriers.

Insurify’s studies of car insurance found that Amigo USA, USH&C, and Novo insurance companies have the cheapest car insurance for drivers with a DUI or DWI—the prices range from $107 to $121 per month.

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Defining DUI and DWI

DWIs and DUIs are serious driving offenses that can stay on your driving record for years to come. While they’re similar, DUI and DWI aren’t always the same thing:

  • DUI stands for driving under the influence of drugs or the influence of alcohol.
  • DWI stands for driving while intoxicated or impaired.

Your state may use OWI (operating while intoxicated or impaired), OVI (operating a vehicle impaired), or another similar acronym.

No matter what it’s called where you live, receiving a DUI or DWI conviction is taken very seriously. It puts other people at mortal risk while you’re behind the wheel. DUIs and DWIs can often be fatal—not just to the passengers but to people in other cars, on the street, or in a building.

Intoxication can refer to a set blood alcohol level that’s determined by the state. On the other hand, being impaired does not have to be alcohol-related. For example, drugs impairing your ability to drive legally can include medications prescribed by your doctor, over-the-counter treatments, and illicit substances.

However, both DUIs and DWIs come with significant legal and financial consequences that can last for many years:

  • State citation and court fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Impound fees
  • Ignition interlock device fee
  • Loss or temporary suspension of driver’s license
  • Possible jail time
  • Mandated community service
  • Drug and alcohol classes
  • Increased car insurance rates or loss of coverage

Keep in mind that some states use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably. However, some states define each term differently and assign varying penalties to each type of offense.

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What’s worse, a DUI or DWI?

Every state can have different legal limits for blood alcohol content and criteria for driving while impaired. Police officers may ask you to take a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test (“breath test”) or require a blood test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Check with local law enforcement or get legal advice from a reputable lawyer to find out how DWI offenses and DUI charges are handled where you live. Some state DUI and DWI laws recognize the offenses as different crimes. Typically, DUI is a lesser impairment, while DWI is more serious.

In some cases, offenders may qualify to have their DWI charge reduced to a lesser offense like reckless driving, especially if it’s your first offense. However, you could still face loss of driving privileges via license suspension with a lower charge. Speak with an attorney about the pros and cons of your options before making legal decisions.

See More: Best and Worst Sites to Compare Car Insurance

How DUI and DWI Affect Car Insurance Quotes

DUIs and DWIs can affect your car insurance rates significantly. Because both are serious driving citations, insurance providers can classify you as a "high-risk driver."

High-risk drivers can face a variety of challenges:

  • Increased policy rates by 28 to 371 percent
  • Loss of auto insurance coverage altogether
  • Required to get an SR-22 for proof of financial responsibility

If the state requires you to get an SR-22 form after a DUI or DWI, you may be able to add it as an endorsement to your existing policy. Your insurer may even file the SR-22 document with the state for you. Your car insurance cost may not increase right away. Many car insurance companies don’t check your driving record until you renew your policy.

However, if your car insurance carrier does not yet know about your DUI or DWI, let them know sooner rather than later. Avoiding transparency about your DUI could result in higher rates or a canceled policy—and lapsed coverage is a red flag for insurers when you’re shopping for new car insurance.

Many nationwide companies offer affordable car insurance rates for high-risk drivers. Because rates can vary between providers, it pays to shop around for coverage. Finding cheap car insurance with a DUI or DWI on your record is possible with Insurify. Compare policy options and premiums to find the best and cheapest car insurance for your situation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • DUI and DWI both address criminal motor vehicle operation while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

    Some states treat both offenses the same. However, in states that separate the two, the difference between a DUI and DWI is typically determined by the level of intoxication.

  • There’s no way around it—you will pay more for car insurance after a DUI or DWI. The amount you pay depends on the insurance company, but expect to hand over two or three times more for car insurance for the next 5 to 10 years. The amount of time a DUI stays on your record depends on the state you live in.

  • Finding cheap car insurance after a DUI or DWI can feel impossible. But it might be easier than you think. There’s no reason to keep the same insurance policy after a DUI or DWI when you can find more affordable coverage with another company. Start by using Insurify's comparison tool to find cheap car insurance quotes even after a DUI or DWI case.

Cheap Car Insurance with DUI or DWI Is Possible

DUIs and DWIs come with many financial consequences. Luckily, higher car insurance rates are one problem you can fix quickly with Insurify. Insurify is the nation’s expert at saving people time and money in the auto insurance quote comparison process. You get access to compare and connect with 200 of the nation’s highest-rated car insurance companies to find the best rates.

A DUI or DWI doesn’t mean you have to pay for your mistake with high-priced car insurance. Get your instant car insurance quote (for free) with Insurify today.

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  • Personalized quotes in 5 minutes or less
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  • The car insurance quotes displayed are based on an analysis of Insurify’s database of over 40 million quotes from 500 ZIP codes nationwide. To obtain representative rates, Insurify’s data science team performs frequent comprehensive analyses of the factors car insurance providers weigh to calculate rates including driver demographics, driving record, credit score, desired coverage level, and more.

    Insurify’s analysis also incorporates the Insurify Composite Score (ICS) assigned to each insurance provider. The ICS is a proprietary rating that weighs multiple factors reflecting the quality, reliability, and health of an insurance company. Ratings used to calculate the ICS include Financial Strength Ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch; J.D. Power ratings; Consumer Reports customer satisfaction surveys and customer complaints; mobile app reviews; and user-generated company reviews. 

    With the above insights and ranking methods, Insurify is able to offer car insurance shoppers insight into how various insurance providers compare to one another in terms of both cost and quality. Note, actual quotes will vary based on unique attributes including the policyholder’s driver history and their garaging address.

Amy Beardsley
Amy Beardsley

Insurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

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