How Long Does a DUI Affect Your Insurance Rates in Washington?

A common question people have after they get a DUI or are charged with one is, “How long does a DUI affect your insurance rates in Washington State?” A DUI stays on your record indefinitely and isn’t something Washington law typically lets you remove. But its impact on your insurance options and premium may only last a few years. It depends on your driving record (and whether you get additional charges after the DUI) and the terms of your contract. As more time goes on between your last DUI and the present day, the less likely the insurance company is to raise your rates because of the charge.

In this post, the Veicht Ault Defense team gives you everything you need to know about DUIs and insurance coverage. Keep in mind that this is a general guide and shouldn’t be used to make a decision in a specific case unless you talk to an attorney first. 

Veitch Ault Defense provides outstanding representation to those facing DUIs in Washington State, earning our attorneys rankings on the Super Lawyers list from 2016 through 2023. Our dedication has helped over 1,000 clients successfully fight against DUI allegations, getting the charges dismissed or significantly reduced. A King County DUI attorney at our office is ready to defend you against even the toughest charges. 

What Car Insurance Coverage Does Washington Make You Get?

Driving in Washington is illegal without having adequate car insurance that meets the state’s minimums. Under Washington law, people need to carry insurance that has the following liability limits:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death to another person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death to other people in the crash
  • $10,000 for property damage

Washington also allows people to self-insure or put up a bond or security for $60,000 instead of getting ordinary insurance coverage. People who drive and don’t have the right liability insurance may face penalties, such as a traffic ticket. 

How Do Insurance Companies Calculate Insurance Rates?

Each insurance provider has its own method for calculating insurance rates. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the following factors can lower or raise your premium:

  • Where you live (theft and vandalism tend to occur more often in cities than in rural areas)
  • Your driving record
  • Your age
  • The type of car you drive
  • The policy you choose
  • Your gender
  • How often you drive your car

From the insurer’s perspective, people who drive their cars often may be seen as more “risky” because they increase their opportunity to get in auto wrecks. More accidents translate to the insurance company having to pay out higher claims. To counteract this risk, the insurance company may ask for more money. 

Additionally, higher policy limits are likely to increase your premium, as are a history of traffic tickets, car wrecks, or DUIs. Even your age, gender, and type of car you drive can raise your rates. For example, auto insurance providers often view young men who drive red sports cars as more likely to engage in risky actions that lead to accidents. Because of this, insurance companies are likely to charge them more. 

How Does a DUI Affect Auto Insurance? 

If you are charged with driving under the influence, you may have questions about the connection between your DUI and insurance coverage and rate. A DUI typically causes the insurance company to increase your rates. From the insurance company’s perspective, drinking and driving impairs someone’s ability to make rational choices, such as what speed to go and how to stop the vehicle in time. If you have a few drinks and get behind the wheel, the insurance company may view your driving habits as more risky. As a result, they may ask for more money to insure you. 

Those who get in an accident or get a DUI in Washington may have to prove to the state that they are financially responsible. They might do this by filing a special certificate of insurance coverage (an SR-22 form), posting a $60,000 bond, or putting up a Certificate of Deposit issued by the Department of Licensing. Washington law may require you to present proof of financial responsibility in this way for three years after you are eligible to get your license back after the DUI. 

How Long Does a DUI Affect Your Insurance Rates?

Washington State doesn’t let people expunge (delete) certain traffic-related convictions (like a DUI or reckless driving charge) from their driving records. So, if you get a DUI, it’ll most likely show up on your record for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean a DUI will permanently impact your insurance rates. 

Every insurance company has different rules about how long a driving incident (like an accident or DUI) impacts someone’s insurance rates. But they may be more critical of your record during the first seven years after the DUI. During this time, if you get an additional traffic charge, you are likely to have increased fines and sentences. The insurance company may, in turn, penalize you by raising your rates if you pick up another charge. If more time passes without new charges appearing on your record, the insurance company is less likely to penalize you for having a DUI. As a result, they may lower your rates again once they are confident that the risk of having to pay a claim is stable. 

Can You Get Affordable Auto Insurance With a DUI on Your Record? 

Getting affordable auto insurance with a DUI on your record is possible. While the DUI may stay on your record permanently, most insurance companies aren’t going to penalize you by only offering you high premiums forever. After all, they, too, want your business. It may take years, but your current insurance provider and future companies may not see your distant DUI as an immediate red flag that warrants a significant bump in rates. Instead, they may only moderately or minimally increase your rates. 

The best way to make sure the insurance companies give you a fair premium offer is to shop around. You can ask companies to provide you with quotes and use the competing offers to negotiate a lower rate or simply choose from the options they give you. 

How to Mitigate a DUI’s Consequences on Car Insurance Rates

There’s no question that getting a DUI in Washington State can impact your insurance rates, but it’s not entirely out of your control. Driving safely, following the judge’s orders, and keeping up with your premium payments can help keep your rates from skyrocketing even more. 

If you are facing a DUI charge, knowing what to do next and who to turn to can be challenging. A Washington DUI attorney can provide you with much-needed guidance. Criminal defense lawyers use their extensive knowledge and training to fight for their clients to help limit the impact of a DUI on their clients’ lives. 

Drive Safely

The best way to limit the impact of a DUI on your insurance rate is to take extra steps to drive safely. If you get another traffic ticket, the insurance company may see this as problematic for them and raise your premiums. You can counteract this by always having a designated driver set up, wearing your seatbelt when you’re in the car, and using your turn signal (even when you think no one’s looking). 

Follow the Judge’s Orders

Following the judge’s orders is another way to help tame your insurance rates. If the judge says you can’t drive for X number of years, follow those directions. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire an attorney to help you fight unfair charges. But until the judge signs a new order saying you can drive, make sure you resist the temptation to get behind the wheel. If you give in and drive anyway, your insurance company may see this as a sign that you are engaging in risky behavior and raise your premium again or delay when they lower your rates. 

Keep Up With Your Premium Payments

While you may be frustrated that the insurance company raised your rates, keeping up with the premium payments is in your best interest. If you miss payments, the insurance company may use this as an excuse to bump up your rates or cancel the policy. It depends on the specific terms of the contract. Of course, if you think you can get lower rates elsewhere, you are more than welcome to shop around. But until you cancel your current contract, pay the premiums as promised to avoid legal or financial troubles. 

Can It Be Harder for You to Get Auto Insurance After a DUI?

It can be difficult to get car insurance after you get a DUI. Insurance companies may offer you extremely high premiums for basic coverage, making it difficult to afford what they’re offering. Or the insurance company may deny you coverage altogether, seeing the DUI as too much of a risk for them to give you coverage. 

But any difficulties you have won’t last forever. Insurance companies are more likely to overlook or not care as much about DUIs that happened many years ago versus recent ones. Further, the fewer traffic convictions you have on your record, the better. Do your best to maintain a safe driving record even after getting into an accident or getting a DUI in Washington State. 

Veitch Ault Defense: We Fight for Those Facing DUIs in Washington State

We’re all human, and sometimes DUIs happen. But people facing a DUI conviction still have rights, even if they have prior convictions. Our team has helped clients by negotiating with the government to reduce or dismiss DUI charges so our clients can move on with their lives. While we can’t guarantee any particular outcome in your case, we take pride in our tremendous track record and welcome the chance to help you. Past clients describe Robert Ault as an “exceptional attorney” who they would recommend to “anyone and everyone” who needs legal help. 

If you are charged with a DUI in Washington, contact our team today or call us at 425-312-6753 to schedule a free consultation. 


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