Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 3, 2022

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The lowdown...

  • Impaired driving can be defined as operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal)
  • If you’ve been convicted of impaired driving in the past, it will be considered a serious violation
  • Prior convictions for impaired driving can affect your eligibility for insurance with preferred carriers
  • If you’re eligible for coverage with an impaired driving conviction, you will pay surcharged rates for three to seven years
  • If you have an accident while you’re impaired, there’s a chance that your insurer could deny first-party claims

Impaired driving is very dangerous for everyone on public roads from drivers to pedestrians. It has become such a problem that each and every day, at least 28 people die in accidents caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.

While impaired driving is a problem all across the country, every state has prevention programs in place to thwart impaired driving risks.

If you’ve driven impaired in the past, you could be paying the price for the mistake in the form of a surcharged auto insurance premium.

You can’t turn back the hands of time and erase that moment in time, but you can educate yourself on how impaired driving affects your insurance so you’re not in for a shock when your rates go up.

Compare car insurance rates today to find the best price for the coverage you need. Just enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool above.

Here’s a guide that can help you gain an understanding of your insurance after a serious conviction:

What is the definition of impaired driving?


What you consider impaired driving might be different from what the next person considers impaired driving.

While many people limit the definition to strictly driving under the influence of alcohol, impaired driving can include a lot more than that. In actuality, impaired driving is when you’re affected by any of the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drugs
  • Prescription or over-the-counter drugs
  • Sleepiness or exhaustion
  • Medical conditions that can affect driving
  • Distractions like cell phone use or texting

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The Costs of Driving Impaired

The costs of driving impaired, whether it be because of alcohol or because you’re tired, are severe. If you’re cited for being impaired, you could lose your car and be forced to pay some hefty penalties.

Not only do you have to hand over money, you’ll have to spend your valuable time in court. Impaired driving has cost the economy am estimated $199 billion in losses in 2010 alone.

It goes beyond just suffering a monetary loss when you get into an accident because of your impairment. If someone is injured, you’re liable for that injury.

If someone dies in an accident, you could face criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter. Being impaired while operating a heavy piece of machinery is no laughing matter.

When does a past impaired driving conviction affect insurance?


Being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can affect your life for years. Not only do you have to get used to having a restricted driving privilege, you also have to deal with all of the administrative actions.

After all that is said and done, you’ll still be left dealing with the consequences when you pay your insurance.

Your insurance rates don’t go up immediately when you’re convicted of impaired driving.

You could go an entire term or even two terms without paying any type of increase, but when your insurer finds the conviction, it could lead to surcharges for three to seven years depending on where you live.

In addition to surcharges, you’re more than likely going to lose large good driver discounts.

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Why does a past impaired driving conviction affect insurance?

If you get stopped by a police officer and they issue a citation saying that you were driving impaired, your insurer is only really affected if you were so impaired that you crashed your car.

A citation alone won’t impact your rates. As soon as you appear in court for that citation and it turns into a conviction, it can be classified as surchargeable.

Impaired driving convictions aren’t surchargeable because they cost the insurer any type of money. They are surchargeable because convictions for something as serious as impaired driving affect your risk profile.

According to insurance actuaries, drivers who are convicted of breaking driving laws are much more likely to have a loss. The more serious the conviction, the greater the risk.

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Can you lose your insurance because of the conviction?


If you get a ticket for texting and driving or for driving while using your cell phone, you probably won’t lose your insurance. Insurers look at other tickets for DUI and DWI much differently.

If you’re convicted of either of these serious driving infractions, you could lose your insurance.

Preferred auto insurance companies insure low-risk drivers and they have very strict underwriting criteria. If you’re currently a preferred driver and you lose that classification, you could lose your insurance because of a DUI.

The insurer might not drop you immediately, but when the policy comes up for renewal you could receive a non-renewal notice.

What happens if your insurer drops you?

By law, an insurance company must send you a notice in the mail stating that you will be losing your coverage. This notice is called a non-renewal notice and it has to reach you 30 to 45 days before your policy renews.

The letter must also say why you’re being dropped from the program.

After you get your notice, it’s your job to find a new policy. You might not qualify for a standard policy but there are insurers who specialize in providing coverage to high-risk drivers.

When you’re shopping around, you’ll have to disclose your impaired driving past and see which places you qualify for coverage through and which places you don’t.

Think About Your Habits in the Future


You can’t turn back time but don’t make the same mistake twice. If you do repeat the same action and you damage your car in the process, you could have your claim for first-party repairs denied because you damaged the car while breaking the law.

Most insurers will still pay for third-party damages.

Most people have blemishes on their driving record. Your job is to improve your record and your driving. If you make a mistake, the best move is to shop around to find the best deal with your added charges for the violation.

Use the world wide web to shop the market instantly and then secure a policy today. Enter your zip code below to begin.