Car insurance for drink drivers

Despite hard-hitting campaigns and tougher laws, around 5% of drivers admit to drink driving at least once. So it’s no surprise that 15% of all fatalities on UK roads in 2020 involved a drink-driver. 

Not only does drink driving pose a serious safety risk, it can also affect your car insurance. Read our guide to find out the drink driving penalties and how a conviction can affect your policy.

Despite hard-hitting campaigns and tougher laws, around 5% of drivers admit to drink driving at least once. So it’s no surprise that 15% of all fatalities on UK roads in 2020 involved a drink-driver. 

Not only does drink driving pose a serious safety risk, it can also affect your car insurance. Read our guide to find out the drink driving penalties and how a conviction can affect your policy.

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Last Updated 15 AUGUST 2022

Can I get car insurance after I’ve been convicted for drink driving?

It’s difficult, but not necessarily impossible. While some insurance providers won’t cover motorists with a conviction, others specialise in this type of cover. 

You’ll probably have fewer policies and providers to choose from and your premium may be higher, but it’s still worth shopping around to find the best deal you can.

Even if you’re serving a driving ban, it’s a legal requirement to have third party insurance on your car, unless you declare it off the road. If you do make a SORN notification you won’t have to pay road tax.

Once you’ve served a driving ban, you’ll have to apply for your licence to be reissued. Then you can apply for a new car insurance policy or see if your current provider will cover you once you’re ready to get back on the road. 

There’s no excuse for drink driving – not only is it dangerous for you and other drivers, but it could also mean your insurance costs soar or you’re refused insurance altogether.

The latest figures from the Department for Transport show that in 2020, around 220 people were killed in Britain where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. In total, there were an estimated 6,480 casualties in drink-drive incidents in the UK.

The only safe advice is to avoid alcohol altogether before getting behind the wheel. But if you’ve been convicted for drink driving and have served a driving ban, there’s still hope for finding a fair deal.

How will a drink driving conviction affect the cost of car insurance?

A drink driving conviction will probably increase the cost of your car insurance significantly. 

In fact, any criminal conviction, whether related to driving or not, can make insurance more expensive or hard to find. That’s because you’re seen as a greater risk, so more likely to have an accident and make a claim on your insurance. 

However, no matter how much more the premium is, you still need to have insurance to legally drive. The costs could be much higher if you decide to drive without it. 

A drink-driving conviction could cost you thousands of pounds. That’s factoring in costs including solicitor’s fees, increased car insurance, fines and possible loss of employment.

How can I reduce the cost of car insurance if I have been convicted of drink driving?

There's a few things you can do to keep car insurance costs down after a drink-driving conviction:

Go on a drink-driving rehabilitation course - if your driving ban is for 12 months or more, the sentencing court may offer you the opportunity to take a drink driving rehabilitation course. These courses (costing up to £250, which you’ll have to pay for yourself) are designed to educate people convicted of drink driving, with the aim that they don’t drink drive ever again.

It’s your decision whether or not to complete the course but doing so might reduce the length of your driving ban by 25% and lower the cost of your future car insurance as a convicted drink driver. 

After completing the course you’ll be given a certificate that you can present to insurance providers to show you’re serious about becoming a better driver and not re-offending. Your premiums might go down too.

Pay a higher voluntary excess - offering to pay more for your excess – the cost to you when you make a claim – can mean paying less for your annual policy. Make sure you set an amount that you’ll be able to afford though, as it’s pointless setting it so high that it becomes unaffordable.

Get a black box - lots of younger drivers use telematics or black box technology to get a better car insurance deal, and it can also be helpful for convicted drink drivers. The box monitors your driving and its data is sent back to your insurance provider. The safer you drive, the cheaper your car insurance policy could be.

Lower your mileage - you’re most likely to suffer an accident or damage to your car when you’re on the road. That’s why the more mileage you do, the higher the risk. Driving fewer miles lowers the risk, which can lower the cost of your insurance. But be honest with your insurance provider – if you drive more miles than you say you will, your policy may be void.

Increase your car’s security - the more secure your car is, the lower the risk of theft or damage. Taking steps to beef up your car’s security may mean you’ll pay less for insurance. For example, you might keep it in a driveway or in a well-lit area with an immobiliser fitted.

Do I need to tell my car insurance provider about my drink driving conviction?

Yes, you need to tell your insurance provider when any of your circumstances change. It’s no different if you’ve been disqualified from driving. If you hold this back from your insurance provider, your insurance could be invalidated.

You’ll also need to inform your insurance provider if you’re given any penalty points. If you don’t tell them, they may cancel your policy without a refund. This also means a claim may be rejected and you’ll be left to foot the bill.

Will drinking and driving invalidate my car insurance?

f you have an accident while you’ve been drinking, your insurance provider might not pay for injuries you suffer or repairs to your vehicle. Your provider must pay for the costs of claims by a third party – but they might try to reclaim these from you. Check your policy to see exactly what you are and aren’t covered for.

How long do I have to declare a drink driving conviction to insurance providers? 

You’ll have to tell insurance providers about any drink-driving for five years after the conviction date. This period is halved to two-and-a-half years if you’re under 18. After this time, the offence is considered ‘spent’.

What are the drink-drive alcohol limits in the UK?

Before you get behind the wheel, or consider having a drink, make sure you’re aware of the legal limits in the UK.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit if you’re driving is:

  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in your body
  • 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine

In Scotland the legal limit is lower:

  • 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in your body
  • 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 67 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

How your body absorbs alcohol can depend on:

  • Your sex, age, weight and metabolism
  • The type of alcohol you’re drinking
  • Whether you’ve eaten or are drinking on an empty stomach
  • Your stress levels at the time.

Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely. So even if you’re under the limit, you may not be safe to drive. It’s never worth risking and the safest thing to do is to not drink any alcohol if you’re going to be driving.

What are the penalties for drink driving in the UK?

If it’s not already clear, there’s no excuse or reason for drink driving. Here are just some of the possible penalties you could face if you’re caught driving over the legal limit:

  • Up to six months in prison
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban of at least 12 months, or three years if you’ve been convicted twice in 10 years
  • A court referral to take a drink-drive rehabilitation course.

If you cause death by driving under the influence of alcohol, you could face:

  • 14 years in prison
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least two years
  • An extended driving test before you could get your driving licence back.

Other possible consequences of a drink-driving conviction include:

  • Significantly higher insurance premiums
  • Losing your job, particularly if it involves driving
  • Difficulty getting a visa to visit certain countries, including the USA.

If you’re convicted of drink driving, you’ll also be given points on your licence. The number of points you receive and how long they appear on your driving record will depend on the offence you’re charged with.

Codes DR10 to DR61 say on your record for 11 years from the date of conviction.

Code Offence Penalty points
DR10 Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above limit 3-11
DR20 Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink 3-11
DR30 Driving or attempting to drive then failing to supply a specimen for analysis 3-11
DR31 Driving or attempting to drive then refusing to give permission for analysis of a blood sample that was taken without consent due to incapacity 3-11
DR61 Refusing 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 10


Codes DR40 to DR70 must stay on a driving record for four years from the date of the offence or four years from date of conviction where a disqualification is imposed

Code Offence Penalty points
DR40 In charge of a vehicle while alcohol level above limit 10
DR50 In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink 10
DR60 Failure to provide a specimen for analysis in circumstances other than driving or attempting to drive 10
DR70 Failing to co-operate with a preliminary test 4

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