Drink driver car insurance

Been convicted of drink driving? Here's how you can find affordable car insurance and get back on the road.

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If you’ve been convicted of drink driving, you’ll already know that finding affordable drink driving car insurance is incredibly difficult. However, the good news is there are still options out there for you.

What is drink driving?

Drink driving simply means driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol. Alcohol can slow down your body’s responses and reactions, making it less safe to drive and putting both yourself and others at risk of an accident.

Alcohol legal limits in the UK

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

In Scotland the limit is 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, and 67 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

If you’re found to be driving with an alcohol level above these limits you’ll be convicted of drink driving. This can have serious consequences, including points on your licence, an unlimited fine, a drinking ban and time in prison. You’re also likely to see a significant rise in your car insurance costs.

Can you get car insurance again after a drink driving conviction?

It is possible to get car insurance for drink drivers, but depending how serious the conviction is you may find it a lot harder. If you’re looking to get car insurance after previously being banned from driving, insurers will view you as higher risk and will be less willing to offer you cover. If an insurer does offer you cover, the amount you pay for it will be much higher.

If you’re struggling to find car insurance, you may need to approach a specialist insurance provider.

How will drink driving affect the cost of car insurance?

How much your car insurance will go up by if you have a drink driving conviction will depend on how serious the conviction is. However, it’s likely that your premiums will at least double.

We looked at the cost of a car insurance premium for a 40-year old married homeowner living in Kent with no previous convictions. The cost came to £481.Once we added a motoring conviction of driving with an alcohol level above the limit, premiums rose to £823 – almost double the original price.

More serious convictions can cost even more, although in many cases insurers will simply refuse to provide cover.

What are the penalties for being caught drink driving?

The penalties for drink driving will depend on the offence committed:

OffencePossible Penalty
Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal alcohol limit or unfit through drink.3 months’ imprisonment, up to £2,500 fine, possible driving ban.
Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal alcohol limit or unfit through drink.6 months’ imprisonment, unlimited fine, driving ban for at least 1 year.
Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis.6 months’ imprisonment, unlimited fine, driving ban for at least 1 year.
Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink.14 years’ imprisonment, unlimited fine, ban from driving for at least 2 years, an extended driving test before your licence is returned.

What are the drink driving statistics in the UK?

According to government data, the number of estimated road deaths caused by drink driving rose by 17% in 2019. Between 240 and 320 people were killed on the road when at least one driver was found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit. This was the highest rate since 2009.

What happens if I don’t declare my conviction to my insurer?

When applying for drink driving car insurance, you must be upfront about any convictions that are “unspent”. If you’re not, you could invalidate your policy and any future claims you make are likely to be rejected.

Once convictions are “spent”, you no longer need to declare them to your insurer. Convictions become spent after a certain length of time and this period will depend on your sentence.

When is a drink driving conviction spent?

A drink driving conviction becomes spent after five years, so you don’t need to declare them to your insurer after this point. However, if your conviction was more serious, points can remain on your licence for as long as 11 years.

How can I lower the cost of my insurance following a drink driving conviction?

  • Shop around. The best way to find the right insurance policy for you is to shop around and compare options – never go for the first policy you’re offered, no matter how good you think it is.
  • Consider a telematics policy. With a telematics or black box policy, a device monitors your driving habits to calculate your premiums – the more safely you drive, the lower your premiums will be.
  • Choose a cheaper car. Trading in your existing car for one in a lower insurance group could help to reduce the amount you pay for car insurance.
  • Drive less. The lower your annual mileage, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident and make a claim on your insurance. This can help reduce your premiums.
  • Consider a specialist insurer or broker. If you’re struggling to find cover or the cover you are offered is too expensive, approach a specialist insurer or broker to see whether it can offer you a more affordable policy. The charity Unlock can provide you with a list of brokers specialising in convicted driver insurance.

Does drink driving invalidate insurance?

Drink driving won’t usually invalidate your insurance, although this will depend on the policy. However, you may find that it will invalidate any claim you make for injury or damage to you or your car, following an accident. Indeed, some insurers will not pay you any compensation if you’re under the influence of drink or drugs. This could apply even if you’ve only had one drink, so check the small print of your policy carefully.

Any damage or injury you have caused to someone else will be covered under your insurance policy. Insurers are obliged under the Road Traffic Act to pay out to any third party regardless of whether you were drink driving.

Does a drink driving conviction show up on a DBS check?

This will depend on the type of DBS check you get. Standard DBS checks only show unspent convictions, while an enhanced check will show all convictions, including those that are spent and unspent.

Do I have to go through a specialist insurer to get insured following a drink driving conviction?

Not necessarily, but it depends how serious your conviction was. If you were caught attempting to drive a car while over the alcohol limit, you may still be able to get cover through your existing insurer or another standard insurance provider. However, you can expect to pay a lot more for your premiums and you will usually need to pay a much higher voluntary excess (the amount you must pay towards the cost of a claim).

If your conviction was more serious and resulted in imprisonment, you may struggle to find cover with standard insurance providers and you’re more likely to need the help of a specialist provider.

Is drink driving an automatic ban?

If you’re caught drink driving, this carries an obligatory driving disqualification for at least 12 months as laid out by the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 section 34 (1).

What code is drink driving?

There are several different codes for drink driving as outlined below:

DR10Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol above the limit.
DR20Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink.
DR30Driving or attempting to drive, then failing to supply a specimen for analysis.
DR31Driving or attempting to drive, then refusing to give permission for analysis of a blood sample that was taken without consent due to incapacity.
DR61Refusing to give permission for analysis of a blood sample that was taken without consent due to incapacity in circumstances other than driving or attempting to drive.

Can you still drive if charged with drink driving?

If you are caught drink driving, you’ll usually be taken to a police station and detained until you’ve sobered up. If you’re charged with an offence, you may be released on bail and you’ll then need to appear in court a few weeks later.

You’ll be able to drive your car again once you’re under the legal limit and until a driving ban is imposed after your conviction. As soon as your driving ban takes effect you cannot legally drive.

Will taking a drink driving course help reduce my premium?

Taking a Drink Driving Rehabilitation Scheme (DDTS) course can help to reduce both the length of your driving ban and your drink driving insurance costs. Courses last 16 hours and run over three days, spread over three weeks.

The course will help you understand the impact of alcohol use in relation to driving and will look at ways to change your alcohol use in relation to driving. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion and a copy will also be sent to the court that sentenced you. The court will tell the DVLA so that your driving ban is reduced.

Bottom line

Taking out car insurance following a conviction for drink driving is still possible, but you’re likely to pay significantly more for your premiums and face a higher voluntary excess. The more serious the conviction, the higher those premiums will be. In some cases, you may have to turn to a specialist insurer to help you get the cover you require.

Finder survey: Have you ever had points on your driving licence?

Not sure3.05%4.09%6.78%7.45%16.5%
Prefer not to say1.66%2.92%2.12%3.73%4.85%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of 1032 Brits, December 2023
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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £539.54

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