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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.

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
12 MAY 2023
7 min read
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Can you get car insurance for drink drivers?

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. However, 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.

Is car insurance for drink drivers more expensive?

If you’ve been convicted of drink driving, car insurance is usually much more expensive. In fact, our recent research revealed that motorists will face an increase of 81% or £480 on their premiums after being convicted of driving or attempting to drive above the legal alcohol limit, with the average premium increasing from £596 to £1,077. And depending on where you live, the increase can be as much as 900%, up to well over £2000 per year.

But why such a steep increase? 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 higher 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 drink driving insurance, fines and possible loss of employment. 

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

There's a few things you can do to keep the cost of car insurance 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 are designed to educate people convicted of drink driving, with the aim that they don’t drink drive ever again.

Completing the course could 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 can afford it though.

Get a black box -black box can 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.

Compare car insurance quotes - with your premium likely to be significantly higher when looking for a convicted drink driver insurance policy, comparing insurance quotes is an easy way to find a better deal. We order quotes from cheapest to most expensive, so you can select the best price.

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. This means you need to tell your car insurance provider after a drink driving ban or any other motoring conviction. Not telling your insurance provider about a drink driving conviction could invalidate your insurance.

You’ll also need to inform your insurance company 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.

How long do I have to declare drink driving to my insurance provider?

If you have an unspent drink driving conviction, the length of your sentence will determine how long you need to declare it.

Sentence type/length  Over 18s  Under 18s 
Community order/Youth rehabilitation order  Until the last day of your order  Until the last day of your order 
One year or less  One year  Six months 
Between one and four years  Four years  Two years 
More than four years  Seven years  Three and a half years 

After this, the conviction is ‘spent’. You don’t need to declare spent convictions.

Will drinking and driving invalidate my car insurance?

If 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.

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:

  • Life imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least five 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.

Conviction codes DR10 to DR61 stay 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

Methodology 

Premium data was provided by Compare the Market, analysing comprehensive quotes from June 2022 - May 2023. “No conviction” premiums include quotes where there is only one person who has zero convictions. “Conviction premiums” include quotes where there is only one person on the quote who has declared one conviction of DR10, driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above the limit.

To determine the cities with the highest premium increases, the top 50 populated cities in Great Britain were analysed and ranked based on the percentage increase of premiums after being convicted of DR10.  

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Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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