Approximately 85,000 people are convicted of drink driving offences every year. As well as this, thousands of people are injured and hundreds more die each year as a result of drink driving related accidents.
Drink driving is a crime that is treated very seriously due to the danger it can pose to the driver and the lives of other passengers, road users and pedestrians.
The legal limit for drink driving is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath; 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood; or 107 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.
However, even if you consume a small amount of alcohol it can be difficult to know if you are below the legal limit to operate a vehicle. That’s why it is advisable to avoid drinking any alcohol when driving, as it can slow your reactions, blur your vision and affect your spatial awareness. If you are caught operating or driving a car above the legal limit you could face penalty points being added to your license, a fine, a driving ban, or a prison sentence.
If you’ve been convicted of drink driving one of the things you might be worrying about is how it will affect your car insurance. You may have already been in contact with your insurance provider and found that your policy has been terminated or become much more expensive. In this article we’ll look at the options available, what you have to if convicted, and the steps you can take to reduce your driving insurance costs.
What is drink driving insurance?
If you’ve been convicted of drink driving, it can be very difficult to find providers who will offer you car insurance. And even if they will, the costs can be prohibitively expensive. This is because to many providers, convicted drivers are more of a risk and more likely to be involved in an accident or making claim.
If you are looking for car insurance following a drink driving conviction, it is best to look for a company who provide specialist insurance. This is because they are trained to take all of the relevant information and circumstances in to account in order to best the type of cover that best suits you.
Do I have to declare a drink driving conviction?
You must notify your insurance provider whenever there is a change in your circumstances so they can amend your policy to reflect the new details.
If you receive a conviction for drink driving, receive penalty points on your licence, or face a ban from driving, you will need to inform them immediately. If you fail to do so, the insurance company have valid grounds to cancel and void your policy.
You may find that once you provide your insurance company with the details of your conviction, they will terminate/refuse to cover you for a new policy. In this case, you will need to find a specialist insurer who is able to offer the relevant cover.
Even if you have no plans to drive your car, you still need to inform your provider; it is a legal requirement for your car to be insured, regardless of whether it is on the road. If you plan to keep your car but not drive it (as you might have been issued with driving ban) you will still need third party insurance as a minimum, or register your vehicle as off the road (SORN – Statutory Off Road Notification) with the DVLA. You will get a refund for any full months of car tax outstanding, and will need to renew your car tax whenever you plan to drive your vehicle again.
How long will a drink driving conviction affect my insurance?
A drink driving charge stays on your license for 11 years. If at any point you commit a repeat drink driving offence, the penalty you face is a minimum of 3 years disqualification from driving.
Even though the charge stays on your licence for 11 years, it shouldn’t affect your insurance for this length of time.
This is because some convictions becomes ‘spent’ after a certain period of time – meaning they are removed from certain records, such as job applications and applying for insurance. A drink driving conviction becomes spent 5 years after the date of conviction.
How much will my car insurance increase after a drink driving conviction?
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors: the type of conviction you receive, the number of penalty points added to your licence and whether it is your first driving offence.
The penalty you receive from a magistrate will depend on the type of offence that is committed. If you are found to be heavily over the limit or cause damage while under the influence of alcohol when driving; then you will likely receive more penalty points on your licence, a higher fine and the possibility of a driving ban. All of these factors, as well as having points already on your licence, are taken in to account by an insurance provider when calculating your insurance premium.
The full list of driving offences are:
- DR10: Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above the limit
- DR20: Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink
- DR30: Driving or attempting to drive and refusing to supply a specimen
- DR40: In charge of vehicle with an alcohol level above the limit
- DR50: In charge of vehicle while unfit through drink
- DR60: Failure to provide a specimen for analysis other than driving
- DR70: Failure to provide a specimen for a breath test
Any drink driving offence is treated seriously and this will be reflected in your insurance costs. As the risk of causing damage or injury by drink driving is very high, it’s not uncommon for some providers to double the cost of your premium. And it’s likely that this cost will remain higher until your conviction becomes ‘spent’.
This is why it is important to look around different providers and get quotes from insurance companies who specialise in this type of insurance.
Are there any steps I can take to reduce my car insurance costs?
Look for specialist providers
If you have informed your insurance company of a drink driving conviction or you are taking out car insurance again after a drink driving ban, you might be shocked at the price of the quote you receive. The first thing to do to try and reduce your insurance costs is to look around for specialist insurers who are used to dealing with these types of policies. They will take all of your personal details and circumstances in to account and make sure you have the right level of cover.
Take a drink driving rehabilitation course
Rehabilitation courses are aimed at educating drivers about the dangers of consuming alcohol, with the purpose of reducing the number of people who re-offend. As part of your sentencing, you may be offered the choice of taking a drink driving rehabilitation course.
Even though you need to pay for the cost of the course yourself, it can help to reduce your insurance costs by showing that you are concerned about being safety-conscious. If you are given a driving ban, a rehabilitation course can also help to reduce the length of a ban – sometimes by up to 25%.
Install a black box in your vehicle
Another option to reduce your insurance cost is to get a black box fitted to your car to monitor your driving. A black box – also known as telematic insurance – isn’t anything new; they have been used for a while by lots of drivers as a way to get a lower premium on their car insurance. The device is either fitted to the car or installed on an app and is connected to a GPS device which measures how fast your drive, how often your drive and generally how safe your driving is.
An insurance company is able to analyse this data and assess how responsible you are on the road. The safer you are; the lower your insurance premium is likely to be. You might see this reflected in an adjustment to your monthly premium amount or as a reduction on your next insurance quote when you renew your policy.
Lower your mileage
This might not always be possible if you rely on your vehicle to get to and from work, but reducing the amount of time you spend on the road can lower the cost of your insurance. This isn’t specific to suffering a conviction for drink driving; any quote for car insurance is likely to be lower based on a lower mileage. This is because the more time you spend on the road, the more chance there is of being involved in an accident or suffering damage to your vehicle.
When completing an insurance quote it is important that you are honest. If you lie about the number of miles you are driving, your insurance provider is well within their rights to cancel your policy and void your claim.
Pay a higher excess
As with any insurance policy, you have the option of increasing the voluntary excess – the pre-agreed amount of money that you have to pay your provider if you make a claim. Usually, the higher your excess, the lower your insurance premium will be. However, you should make sure that you are able to pay the excess in the event that you have to make a claim. With most insurance providers, the excess will need to be paid upfront, but it will be returned to you if you are not legally at fault for any damages caused.
Keep your car in a safe and secure location
If you can lock your car up in a garage, monitor it’s security via CCTV or even fit it with a tracker, it can help to reduce the amount you pay for your car insurance.
Drink driving is rightly treated as a serious offence but we are also aware that many drivers who have a conviction will attempt to be much safer drivers in the future.
At A-Plan, we have specialist drink driving insurance quote facilities and our helpful and qualified advisors will find the best policy to suit your needs.