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Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense that comes with a variety of legal and financial consequences. If you’re charged with a DUI, it can stay on your record anywhere from five to 10 years — and sometimes indefinitely — depending on where you live.
Having a DUI on your driving record can also lead to more expensive car insurance coverage. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI, it’s still possible to find affordable car insurance. But the key is to shop around and compare quotes online from multiple auto insurers to land the best policy for your needs.
Depending on where your live, a DUI can appear on your record permanently.
A DUI charge can also apply to prescription medication that leads to impaired driving.
Legal ramifications of a DUI can include fines, jail time, and loss of your driver's license.
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How long does a DUI stay on your driving record?
A DUI charge typically stays on your driving record between five and 10 years, though this varies by state. Sometimes, a DUI will remain on your driving record forever.
The table below shows the number of years a DUI stays on a driving record in each state. The data comes from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit organization made up of 11 American alcohol companies that are committed to eliminating drunk driving and underage drinking.
Source: Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
Which driving offenses does a DUI include?
Approximately 32 people in the U.S. lose their lives in preventable drunk driving accidents every day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. For this reason, DUIs are considered very serious offenses. If they don’t lead to fatalities, they may be the cause of extensive property damage, accidents, and bodily injury.
It’s important to note that DUIs include driving under the influence of prescription medications and illegal drugs in addition to alcohol. Mixing drugs and driving is just as illegal as driving drunk.
While many states use the acronym DUI to refer to driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Some also use driving while impaired (DWI) or operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI).
Impact of a DUI on your driving record
If you’re convicted of a DUI, you can expect the following consequences that negatively affect many aspects of your life.
Increased car insurance premiums
As soon as a car insurance company finds out you have a DUI on your record, it’ll automatically place you into the high-risk category. This means you’ll be charged higher premiums than a driver with a clean driving record. Unfortunately there’s no way around this, so be prepared to pay more for your car insurance than you did before you were convicted of a DUI.
The following table illustrates how a DUI can affect the average monthly rates of some national and regional insurance companies. Increases of 55% are common, but your rate may increase more or less, depending on the insurer, the state you live in, and your individual circumstances.
The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Monday, September 18 at 12:00 PM PDT.
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.
Legal and financial complications
A DUI conviction will result in serious legal and financial penalties. You can expect to pay $1,500 to $5,000 in attorney fees alone. Here are some other fees you might have to pay:
Court fines: $150–$1,800 for a first-time DUI
Jail time: Up to $300
Probation fines: Up to $1,200
License reinstatement fees: $20–$200
Ignition interlock device charges: Up to $1,500
Alternative transportation fees: $100–$1,000
You may also be required to pay driver responsibility fees to your state. These range from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on where you live.
In addition to these costs and jail time, you might have to participate in community service, complete an alcohol or drug treatment program, and undergo frequent blood alcohol testing. Your driver’s license may get suspended as well. The higher your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the incident, the more serious your penalties will be.
Good to know
A BAC of .08 is considered legally intoxicated, according to the National Library of Medicine. You’re considered very impaired with a BAC between .08 and .40, and a BAC above .40 puts you at risk of coma or even death.
Limited auto insurer options
You’ll have fewer car insurance options once you’re convicted of a DUI for a few reasons. First, some auto insurance providers are simply unwilling to extend coverage to drivers with DUIs on their records. Second, other insurers don’t offer SR-22 forms, which you’ll need to file in most states to prove that you meet the minimum car insurance requirements after a DUI conviction. An SR-22 can help you get your license reinstated.
Future employment and housing
If you have a professional license so you can practice law or medicine, for example, your licensing board or agency might suspend it once they learn you have a DUI conviction. If it doesn’t suspend your license, it may place restrictions on how you can use it.
A DUI can also impair your chances of landing a job in the future, especially if your desired position requires a clean criminal history or prohibits DUIs altogether. In addition, if you wish to rent a property, a landlord or property management company may run a background check and deny your rental application due to your DUI.
How to find car insurance with a DUI on your record
Despite the fact that your car insurance rates will increase with a DUI on your record, you can still find reasonably affordable options. Here’s how:
Not all car insurance providers treat DUI convictions the same. That’s why it’s well worth your time and effort to shop around and compare auto insurance quotes from multiple companies. You’ll notice that some insurers charge lower premiums for drivers with DUIs on their records.
Look into nonstandard insurance
Nonstandard car insurance comes from insurance companies that focus on high-risk drivers. If you don’t own a car and drive someone else’s vehicle every once in a while, a non-owner car insurance policy might make sense.
Wait it out
In many states, a DUI will fall off your driving record after five years. If you don’t mind using public transportation or have another way to get around, you might want to wait until your offense disappears from your record. Once it does, you may be eligible for cheaper auto insurance coverage.
Buy a policy through a state-run assigned risk pool
If you’re struggling to find coverage after a DUI conviction, you may have to buy a policy through your state-run assigned risk pool. Insurers participate in the risk pool voluntarily, and they must accept the drivers the state assigns to them. Since these policies are more expensive than those you’ll find at private insurance companies, this should be your last resort.
Expunging a DUI from your record
In some states, it may be possible to clear a DUI from your public record through a process called expungement. In most cases, you’ll have to fill out an application, pay a fee, and appear in court for a hearing so that a judge can decide whether to approve or deny your request for expungement.
These states may allow you to expunge a DUI from your record. Note that some states have stricter expungement criteria than others. If you have a DUI on your record and want to get it expunged, you’ll need to consult an attorney to find out if you’re eligible.
How to find and view your driving record
Your driving record contains information such as points on your license, major traffic accidents and violations, license suspensions and revocations, DUI convictions, and more.
You can request an official copy of your driving record through the department of motor vehicles or driver’s licensing office in your state. In most cases, you’ll be able to do this online. If you prefer, you can make your request via mail or in person. It’ll likely cost you between $2 and $25, depending on where you live.
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DUI impact FAQs
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about convictions for driving under the influence.
If you have a DUI conviction in one state, can you obtain a clean driver’s license in another?
The Driver License Compact (DLC) is an agreement that lets states exchange information related to traffic violations. It ensures that your DUI conviction and the consequences that come with it will follow you, even if you go to another state. So, if your license is suspended in one state, it’ll likely be suspended in any other state that belongs to the DLC.
Can you be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana?
No matter what state you’re in, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. This holds true even where recreational marijuana is legal. If you get caught while driving under the influence of marijuana, you can be arrested.
What happens if you have multiple DUI convictions on your record?
Multiple DUI convictions will result in additional or more serious legal, financial, and insurance consequences. Your state might even permanently revoke your license, meaning the department of motor vehicles (DMV) will cancel it so you can’t re-instate it or drive legally.
What is the penalty for drunk driving?
The penalties for drunk driving vary by state. In most cases, however, they include hefty fines, jail time, a required interlock ignition device, community service hours, and a license suspension or revocation.
Does a DUI count as a misdemeanor or a felony charge?
In most states, a first-time DUI conviction is a misdemeanor. But if your DUI involves a fatality, you had a very high blood alcohol concentration, you were driving with children while under the influence, or you’ve had multiple convictions, it will be considered a felony.
Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.