However you ended up with a drink driving conviction, those points on your license just don’t look pretty – especially not to insurance companies. The good news is, there are several steps you can take to lower your car insurance if you have a drink driving conviction, and find car insurance that suits your particular circumstances.
In this article, we’re going to explore whether you can get insurance with a drink driving conviction. We’ll also cover key points such as how a drink driving conviction affects your car insurance costs, how you can find the cheapest car insurance with a drink driving conviction, and how long a drink driving conviction will affect your car insurance costs.
Nobody wins when it comes to drink driving, and there’s no doubt that it’s a serious offence. In the UK, the legal alcohol limit on drink driving is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood on your body. However, everyone’s body absorbs alcohol differently, so even if you’ve only had the legal limit of alcohol, you could show up on a breathalyser test as being over the limit. You can also show up as being over the limit the morning after. This is why it’s safer not to drink any alcohol at all before driving.
What are the drink driving penalties in the UK?
The possible penalties for drink driving in the UK include:
- up to six months in prison
- an unlimited fine
- a driving ban of at least 12 months (or 3 years if your’ve been convicted twice in 10 years)
- a DR10 endorsement on your driving license which will increase your insurance premiums
For more serious drink driving offences, such as attempting to drive while unfit through alcohol and refusing to provide a specimen for alcohol analysis, you could get a DR20 or a DR30.
What are DR10, DR20 and DR30 endorsements?
What is a DR10 conviction?
A DR10 and penalty points are issued by the police and DVLA in relation to a conviction for drink-driving, specifically driving with an alcohol level above the legal limit. Both the endorsement and penalty points are added to your driver record, you will have a criminal record and are likely to face a minimum of a 12 month disqualification, along with a fine.
The level of punishment will be directed by the level of alcohol in your system. Depending on the severity of the situation, the number of points issued varies between 3 to 11. A DR10 will remain on your driving record for 11 years from the date of the conviction and you will have to declare this to obtain motor insurance.
What is a DR20 conviction?
A variation on DR10 is DR20, which is issued for the offence of ‘driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink’. This means that it has been determined that, although you are not above the legal limit, you are unfit to drive due to the alcohol you have consumed.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the conviction, between 3 and 11 penalty points would be issued. Not only are drivers disqualified if they receive 12 penalty points within a 3-year period, for DR20 drink-driving offences, those convicted could face an immediate disqualification, a fine, a community order or face imprisonment.
What is a DR30 Conviction?
If you are suspected of being drunk or under the influence of drugs while driving, and refuse to comply with a police request for a specimen (breathalyser, blood or urine), your driver’s license will be coded with a DR30. There are some ‘reasonable excuses’ which can be considered by the courts, but all would need to be backed up with substantial medical evidence.
Drink driving codes DR10, DR20 and DR30 all come with penalty points from 3 to 11, and all remain on record for 11 years, which may disrupt employment and international travel, to the USA, for example.
Can I get insurance with a drink driving conviction?
You can get insurance with a drink driving conviction, but your insurance premiums will go up significantly, for example, if you received a ban for drink driving, or if a sample you provided for alcohol analysis showed you were over the limit.
There are specialist insurers who provide car insurance for people with drink driving convictions, but as this insurance is likely to be more expensive than standard car insurance, it’s a good idea to approach an insurance broker for free advice on the cheapest specialist insurance you can get with a drink driving conviction.
Let’s dive right in and look in detail at whether you can get insurance with a drink driving conviction, and how a drink driving conviction will affect the cost of your insurance.
How will a drink driving conviction affect my car insurance costs?
If you get a drink driving conviction, a court may ‘endorse’ your license, which means you could receive a driving ban, depending on how bad your drink driving offence was.
This is very likely to increase the cost of your insurance, as well as keep you off the road for however long your ban lasts.
Not only will insurers accelerate your premiums after a drink driving conviction, you may be expected to pay a larger excess.
An excess in car insurance is the amount you agree to pay towards the claim costs. You’ll already have a compulsory excess, which is a mandatory amount you have to pay if you make a claim, and an ‘excess’ is any amount you offer to pay on top of your compulsory excess.
Offering more in excess can reduce your insurance premiums, because you’re promising to pay more if you do get in an accident.
It’s not just insurance premiums that are ramped up by drink driving convictions. If you’re convicted of drink driving you could incur extra costs through legal fees – a drink driving conviction now comes with a limitless penalty – the potential loss of your job (particularly if it involved driving) and the cost of taking alternative transport.
Research by IAM Roadsmart suggests that, on top of legal fees averaging between £5000 and £11,000 (if you get a drink driving conviction after a not guilty plea, you’ll face fees at the higher end of the scale), you can expect to pay out £2,000 in taxis or public transport during a driving ban, and a potential loss in earnings of £38,000 over 15 months if you’re unemployed following a drink driving conviction.
Will my car insurance cover a drink driving accident?
If you have an accident while you’re driving above the legal limit, the Road Traffic Act decrees that your insurer has to pay for any costs of claims by third parties (for example, anyone whose car you hit while drink driving).
However, your insurer will usually have a policy that says you are liable to pay for any costs incurred as a result of third party claims if you were driving above the legal limit. This means that they will generally try to recover the costs from you.
Your insurer is also likely to have a policy that excludes any damage to your vehicle if you were driving under the influence of drink or drugs. For example, if you were with Admiral and you got into an accident under the influence of drink and drugs, Admiral’s policy1 says:
“If an accident happens whilst you or any person entitled to drive … is convicted of an offence involving drink or drugs, or was driving under the influence of drink or drugs, no cover under the policy will be provided and instead, our liability will be restricted to meeting our obligations as required by the Road Traffic Act. In those circumstances, we reserve the right to recover from you or the driver, all sums paid (including all legal costs), whether in settlement or under a Judgment, of any claim arising from the accident”.
So, not only are you unlikely to be able to claim for any damages involving your own vehicle in a drink driving accident, you’ll also be responsible for any legal fees and repairs claimed for by any third parties.
Will I lose my current car insurance after a drink driving conviction?
While you won’t necessarily lose your current car insurance if you’re convicted of a drink driving offence, your insurance premium is likely to increase vastly. In this case, it’s a good idea to shop around and check other car insurance companies, to see if you can find a better deal on insurance after a drink driving conviction.
While many insurers won’t cover a banned driver, you can get excluded driver insurance which covers the vehicle but not the driver. This at least protects your car from risks like theft and vandalism, even if you can’t drive it. Excluded driver insurance also means that other named drivers can drive the vehicle, while you’re serving a ban.
How can I find the cheapest insurance after a drink driving conviction?
A quick google search will call up millions of car insurance websites promising you the cheapest imaginable insurance after a drink driving conviction. Many of these are specialist drink driving car insurance companies, who will naturally require higher premiums from you if you have a DR10 or any other conviction listed on your insurance.
The best way to navigate between all these different insurance companies and find the cheapest and most extensive coverage after a drink driving conviction for you, is to use a free insurance broker. A study by Money Supermarket shows that requesting an insurance quote online when you have two or more drink driving offences only gives you 61 to 70 results, rather than the 70 to 80 you can expect with no convictions at all. After you have four or more offences, you’ll see a mere 6 to 10 results.
Unlike insurance comparison websites, whose quotes will be generalised as they won’t know all your details, insurance brokers can provide you with a greater range of options if you have a drink driving conviction.
This is because insurance brokers have prior relationships with insurance companies and will be able to access deals that companies don’t advertise. While online insurance quotes are usually system driven, insurance brokers will work together with insurance companies to discuss a bespoke policy and rate, which often means you can get cheaper insurance.
As experts in the insurance business, brokers can analyse your specific situation to find the cheapest policy for you, and are likely to get better prices out of insurance companies, because insurance companies know that customers who go through insurance brokers make less claims, costing them less.
How to reduce your insurance after a drink driving conviction
There are lots of ways you can reduce the cost of your insurance after a drink driving conviction. Let’s look at them now.
Take the Drink Driving Rehabilitation course
It’s a great idea to take the Drink Driving Rehabilitation course after a drink driving conviction, if you want to reduce the costs of your insurance. Most insurance companies recognise The Drink Driving Rehabilitation Course as proof that you’ve worked to overcome the issues that led you to drive under the influence in the first place, and are likely to decrease insurance premiums as a result. These courses can decrease the lengths of driving bans up to 25%, which in turn can reduce your insurance.
Pay a higher voluntary excess
Paying a higher voluntary excess, which means that you offer to pay more towards any costs you would otherwise claim from your insurer, could help reduce your car insurance after a drink driving conviction. This is because the amount you are willing to pay in the event of a car accident or incident reduces the amount that your insurer has to pay out, so they’ll be willing to give you cheaper premiums every month.
If you are going to pay a higher excess, make sure that you can definitely afford it in the event that you have to make a claim. If you have savings, put some aside in case you have to pay an excess, and then you’ll be able to have cheaper premiums with the peace of mind that you can afford your excess if you have to make a claim.
Change cars to one in a lower insurance group
The insurance group rating on your car is also likely to affect the cost of your insurance, and a good way to decrease insurance after a drink driving conviction is to change your insurance group rating. All cars belong to a particular insurance group (1-50), and the closer they are to group 1, the cheaper they are to insure. Cars are ranked by two factors: how likely they are to cause damage at all, and how much damage they are likely to cause in the event of an accident or incident. So, if you go with a car such as the Citreon C1 Vibe or the Ford Car plus, which belong to Insurance group 1, you could well reduce the cost of your insurance after a drink driving. However, every insurer rates vehicles differently, so make sure you check which group a car falls into with your insurer before you go out and buy that model in the hopes of reducing insurers. You can be pretty confident that your typical small 1.01 to 1.61 hatchbacks are going to be lower rated (as long as they’re not high performance hot hatches like the Vauxhall Corsa VXR or the Golf / Polo Sports).
You definitely have choices when it comes to car insurance, even after a drink driving conviction. If your current insurance premiums have swelled after a drink driving incident, it’s worth shopping around to see if you can get a cheaper and better deal. While price comparison websites can be helpful for a quick look at potential insurance options, the best thing to do is to engage an insurance broker, who can apply their expertise to your particular situation, and possibly find you better car insurance deals that aren’t advertised.
Lower your annual mileage
Trying to drive less and reporting a lower mileage to your insurance company is another way you can lower your insurance after a drink driving conviction. While you shouldn’t take your foot off the pedal too much (too low of a mileage, for example, 1000 or 2000 miles a year suggests to your insurer that you’re not getting enough experience on the road, and could push your insurance up), hitting a sweet spot of around 5000 miles is a good idea. If you’re driving less your insurer will consider you to be less at risk of accidents, and may well reduce your insurance.
Limit your policy
Depending on your age, limiting your insurance policy to cover certain named drivers can help reduce the cost of your insurance. For example, if you’re a young driver with a drink driving conviction, putting a parent as a named driver can help with reducing premiums, due to a more experienced driver on the risk.
Do I have to tell my insurer about a drink driving conviction?
You always have to tell an insurer about a drink driving conviction that is ‘unspent’, which means that you received the conviction within the past 5 years. Although it may seem tempting to go ahead and purchase cheaper insurance without disclosing any points you’ve got on your license as a result of drink driving, most car insurers will be able to access your driving license data – including points – from The Driver and Vehicles Licensing Agency (DVLA). If they see that you’ve lied, your insurance policy will not be valid. This can lead to a cancelled or voided policy which can also contribute to increased premiums as these need to be declared too.
You definitely have to tell your insurer about any penalty points and disqualifications incurred for drink driving (or any other motoring infringement for that matter) during the term of your insurance policy. If your insurance company finds out that you haven’t disclosed points on your license, your policy will be made void and you also risk prosecution and having your car crushed.
If you receive a DR10 endorsement, it stays on your driving license for 11 years. However, you do not have to declare any motoring convictions after 5 years from the conviction date to your Insurance company, no matter how long they are on your licence for.
Your insurer is not allowed to raise your insurance premium as a result of a spent DR10 conviction. If insurers ask you about any spent penalty points on your license and raise your costs accordingly, this is unlawful according to a High Court decision in 2002. However, if they ask you whether you have any penalty points due to a drink driving conviction, you have to tell the truth, so you’re not guaranteed an insurance policy with that company.
Make sure you also get free advice from an insurance broker about whether you should approach specialist insurers who are used to dealing with convicted drink drivers.
Any endorsements you’ve incurred as a result of a DR10 will drop off your license completely after 11 years, so if your drink driving conviction was over 11 years ago, your insurance is much less likely to be affected. (These convictions are irrelevant after 5 years).
How can I save on car insurance during a drink driving ban?
If you’ve received a driving ban after a drink driving conviction, you’ll still have to pay for car insurance unless you declare that your car is ‘off the road’.
So, if you’re been banned from driving for a while, you can apply for a Statutory Off The Road (SORN) notification from the DVLA. This means your car will be classed as officially off the road, and you won’t have to pay road tax or insurance on it. After your driving ban is over you’ll have to apply for your license again, and either look for new insurance or check if your old car insurance company will cover you again.
Now that we’ve gone through all the details of whether you can get car insurance with a drink driving conviction, we hope you’ve found this a helpful read. Although drink driving is rightfully a serious offence, you do have several options for getting car insurance after a drink driving conviction, and lowering the cost of car insurance as much as possible.