Drink Driving

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Persistent public awareness campaigns and stringent laws notwithstanding, approximately 5% of drivers confess to having driven under the influence of alcohol at least once.

This risky behaviour is reflected in the statistics, with drink drivers accounting for 15% of all fatalities on UK roads in 2020.

Drink driving not only constitutes a significant threat to public safety but also has implications for your car insurance.

Dive into our guide to explore the penalties associated with drink driving and understand how a conviction can influence your insurance policy.

Can you get car insurance for drink drivers?

Getting car insurance after a drink-driving conviction can be challenging, though it isn’t impossible.

Car Insurance For Drink Drivers

While many insurance companies might hesitate or outright refuse to insure individuals with such convictions, there are specialised providers who cater specifically to this demographic.

Limited Choices, Higher Premiums

The available policies for individuals with drink-driving convictions are relatively limited, and you might find yourself facing fewer options in terms of providers willing to extend cover.

Additionally, insurance premiums for drivers with these convictions are typically higher, reflecting the perceived increased risk associated with insuring such drivers.

However, despite these constraints, it is advisable to thoroughly explore the market and compare the deals available, as there might still be considerable variance in the terms and costs of the policies offered.

Legal Requirements During a Driving Ban

Even if you are currently under a driving ban due to a drink-driving conviction, it is imperative to maintain at least third-party insurance cover for your vehicle unless it is officially declared off-road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

Declaring your vehicle off-road with a SORN not only relieves you of the obligation to insure it but also exempts it from road tax.

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Is car insurance for drink drivers more expensive?

Individuals convicted of drink-driving indisputably face steeper car insurance premiums. Research data unveils a significant surge in insurance costs for convicted motorists, showcasing an average increase of 81% or £480 on their premiums.

Drink Drivers Pay More For Car Insurance

After such a conviction, a typical car insurance premium escalates from an initial average of £596 to an increased £1,077. Depending on your geographical location, the increase could be startling, even soaring up to 900%, resulting in annual premiums in excess of £2000.

Reasons for Premium Increase

But what necessitates these drastic hikes in insurance premiums for drink-drivers? The central reason lies in the conviction itself.

Any form of criminal conviction, irrespective of its direct relation to driving, tends to inflate insurance costs. Convicted individuals are viewed through the lens of heightened risk by insurance providers.

This perceived risk signals a greater likelihood of the driver being involved in an accident and subsequently making an insurance claim, thus justifying the escalated premiums.

The Costly Implications of a Conviction

Aside from the immediate and evident spike in insurance costs, a drink-driving conviction carries with it a cascade of financial repercussions.

Drink Driving Convictions

The overall cost associated with a conviction of this nature can run into the thousands when considering all associated expenses. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal Fees: The services of a solicitor might be necessary, adding to the total cost borne by the convicted driver.

  • Increased Insurance Premiums: As highlighted, insurance premiums witness a substantial increase following a drink-driving conviction.

  • Fines: Convicted individuals are often required to pay fines, which vary but can be sizable.

  • Potential Employment Loss: Depending on one’s profession, a drink-driving conviction might result in job loss, especially if the job role involves driving. This loss of employment translates to lost income and financial instability, further exacerbating the economic strain on the convicted individual.

Mandatory Insurance

Despite the daunting increase in premiums, getting car insurance remains non-negotiable for legal driving.

Choosing to drive uninsured not only flouts the law but also exposes you to potentially even more crippling financial penalties and legal consequences if caught.

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

In the aftermath of a drink-driving conviction, car insurance premiums inevitably skyrocket. However, there are several things you can do to mitigate these costs:

Drink-Driving Rehabilitation Course

For individuals facing a driving ban of 12 months or longer, the sentencing court might offer the opportunity to enroll in a drink-driving rehabilitation course.

Crafted with the objective of educating convicted drink-drivers, these courses aim to prevent reoffending by ingraining the serious consequences and risks associated with drink-driving.

Drink Driving Course

Completion of this course not only serves as an educational corrective measure but also provides tangible benefits. Successfully finishing the course can lead to a reduction of up to 25% in the duration of your driving ban.

Furthermore, it enhances your profile in the eyes of insurance providers, positioning you as a reformed and responsible driver committed to avoiding reoffending.

The certificate of completion you receive at the end of the course can be presented to insurers as proof of your commitment, potentially leading to lower insurance premiums.

Higher Voluntary Excess

Volunteering to pay a higher excess—the amount you contribute towards a claim—can result in lower annual premiums for your insurance policy.

Increase Your Car Insurance Voluntary Excess

However, it’s imperative to ensure that the voluntary excess is an amount you can comfortably afford to pay in the event of a claim.

Install a Black Box

For convicted drink-drivers, telematics car insurance, or “black box,” can be an invaluable tool. This device monitors and records your driving behaviour, transmitting the data back to your insurance provider.

Demonstrating consistent, safe driving habits as recorded by the black box can lead to reductions in your insurance premiums.

Reduce Your Annual Mileage

The risk of accidents or damage to your vehicle inherently increases with the more time you spend on the road.

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Consequently, reducing your annual mileage can lower this risk, leading to cheaper car insurance premiums.

It’s crucial to provide accurate mileage estimates to your insurance provider; underreporting your mileage can result in the voiding of your policy.

Enhance Your Vehicle’s Security

Improving your vehicle’s security measures can also contribute to lower car insurance costs.

Installing An Immobilizer Can Reduce Car Insurance Premiums

Steps such as installing an immobiliser, parking in a secure or well-lit area, or keeping your vehicle in a driveway can reduce the risk of theft or vandalism, making your vehicle a lower risk for insurers.

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Given that car insurance premiums for convicted drink-drivers are substantially higher, conducting thorough market research and comparison is crucial.

Comparing car insurance quotes allows you to identify and select the most cost-effective option available for your specific circumstances.

Using platforms like ours that organise quotes from cheapest to most expensive can help this process, helping you secure the best possible deal on your car insurance following a drink-driving conviction.

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

Yes, you must inform your car insurance provider about any alterations to your circumstances, especially something as significant as a drink driving conviction or ban.

It’s not merely advisable but mandatory to communicate any such changes transparently.

Why Inform the Insurance Provider?

Insurance policies necessitate that all policyholders promptly report any changes in their driving record, including all types of motoring convictions.

The requirement to provide accurate information is foundational to the contract you enter into with your insurance provider.

Tell Car Insurance Provider About Drink Driving Conviction

Keeping your provider in the dark regarding a drink driving conviction isn’t only unethical but can also lead to severe consequences.

Consequences of Non-Disclosure

  • Invalidation of Insurance: Failure to disclose a drink driving conviction may result in the invalidation of your car insurance policy. This means that your policy would essentially be void, providing no cover in the event of an accident.

  • Rejection of Claims: If your insurance is invalidated due to non-disclosure, any claim you submit could be outright rejected by the provider. In such cases, you’d be personally responsible for covering all costs associated with an accident, without any financial support from the insurance.

  • Policy Cancellation Without Refund: Non-disclosure of critical information such as penalty points or convictions could lead your insurance provider to cancel your policy without offering a refund for the premiums you’ve already paid.

  • Legal Implications: Not having valid insurance because of non-disclosure can also entangle you in legal issues, as driving without valid insurance is illegal and can result in further fines, penalties, or even another conviction.

What to Disclose?

Apart from convictions, if you accrue any penalty points on your driving licence, this information should also be conveyed to your insurance company without delay.

Penalty points are often levied for various traffic violations, and accumulating them impacts your driving record and, by extension, your insurance premiums.

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

When it comes to declaring a drink-driving conviction to insurance providers, a standard declaration period of five years from the date of conviction is typically required. This is the amount of time during which you are obligated to inform your insurance provider about your conviction.

Declaration Period for Minors

For individuals who are under 18 years of age at the time of their conviction, this mandatory declaration period is reduced.

Specifically, if you were convicted under 18, you are only required to inform your insurance providers about the conviction for two and a half years following the conviction date.

After the Declaration Period

Once the respective declaration period has elapsed, your drink-driving conviction is classified as ‘spent’.

A ‘spent’ conviction essentially means that you’re no longer legally compelled to disclose it to your insurance provider when seeking or renewing a policy.

It should be noted that the concept of a conviction being ‘spent’ is derived from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which aims to support the reintegration of reformed offenders into society.

Impact on Car Insurance

During the declaration period, the conviction significantly impacts your car insurance. Expect to encounter heightened premiums due to the increased risk perceived by insurers.

However, once the conviction is spent, it should theoretically no longer influence your insurance rates, and you should begin to see your premiums decrease, provided there are no additional convictions or claims on your record.

Importance of Honesty

It’s imperative to approach this process with complete transparency and honesty. Failing to declare a drink-driving conviction during the mandatory period can result in the invalidation of your policy, rejection of claims, and potential legal ramifications.

Insurance policies are grounded in trust, and any breach of this trust by withholding information can lead to severe consequences, including difficulty obtaining insurance in the future.

Continuous Disclosure Requirement

Remember, if you switch or renew your insurance policy within the declaration period, you must inform the new or existing provider about your conviction, even if you have previously declared it to another provider.

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Will drinking and driving invalidate my car insurance?

Drinking and driving significantly alters the landscape of your car insurance cover. If you, unfortunately, have an accident while under the influence of alcohol, the insurance provider may refuse to cover the costs associated with your personal injuries and the damages sustained by your car.

Third-Party Claims

However, when it comes to third-party claims, the scenario is somewhat different.

Your insurance provider is legally obligated to cover the costs associated with claims made by third parties who have suffered due to the accident.

This is to ensure that innocent parties affected by the accident are not left without recourse due to your intoxicated state.

Nonetheless, while the insurer might initially pay out these third-party claims, they may subsequently attempt to recover the expended funds from you.

Policy Specifics – Know What’s Covered

Car insurance policies can vary widely in their terms and conditions, so it is essential to thoroughly review your specific policy to understand the extent of cover provided and the exclusions that apply, especially in cases involving alcohol.

Your policy document will delineate the circumstances under which the provider will or will not offer cover, providing you with clarity on your entitlements and obligations under the policy.

Increased Premiums & Potential Cancellation

If you are convicted of drink-driving, not only can this lead to an increase in your insurance premiums, but insurers might also consider cancelling your policy due to the heightened risk associated with insuring a convicted drink-driver.

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Future attempts to secure car insurance may also become more challenging and expensive.

Legal Ramifications

Apart from insurance implications, drink driving carries severe legal penalties, including fines, driving bans, and even imprisonment.

The legal consequences, coupled with the insurance ramifications, underscore the seriousness of drinking and driving and the multi-faceted challenges you may face as a result.

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

Navigating the UK’s drink-drive alcohol limits is crucial before making any decision to drink and drive.

The legal limits vary within the UK, so it’s imperative to understand the distinctions.

Legal Limits in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): The limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
  • Breath: The breath-alcohol limit is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath.
  • Urine: In urine, the permissible limit is 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

Scotland’s Distinct Limit

Scotland enforces stricter drink-drive limits, aimed at improving road safety.

  • Blood: In Scotland, drivers must have a BAC lower than 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.
  • Breath: The limit is 22 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath.
  • Urine: The urine-alcohol limit stands at 67 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

Factors Influencing Alcohol Absorption

The rate and extent at which alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream can be influenced by several factors:

  • Demographic Factors: Your sex, age, and weight play a significant role.
  • Metabolism: Individual metabolic rates can affect how quickly your body processes alcohol.
  • Alcohol Type: Different alcoholic beverages have varying strengths and alcohol content.
  • Nutritional Status: Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to faster absorption.
  • Stress Levels: Your emotional and psychological state at the time can also influence alcohol absorption.

Read more about alcohol and drug driving from the Met Police

The Risks

You need to understand that even if you’re under these legal limits, your driving ability can still be impaired.

Alcohol affects individuals differently, and even minor consumption can impact:

  • Your coordination
  • Concentration
  • Reaction times

Compromising your driving skills and safety.

A Word of Caution

Given the variation in individual responses to alcohol, the only foolproof way to ensure you’re safe and legal on the road is to abstain from drinking entirely when planning to drive.

Adopting a zero-tolerance approach to drinking and driving eliminates the risk, ensuring not only your safety but also that of others on the road. The “safe” amount of alcohol, when it comes to driving, is none at all.

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What are the penalties for drink driving in the UK?

Drink driving is a severe offence with no justification, and in the UK, the penalties for this transgression are appropriately stringent.

If caught and convicted of driving over the legal alcohol limit, here’s a breakdown of the potential penalties and their long-term implications:

Immediate Legal Consequences

  • Short-Term Imprisonment: Offenders could face up to six months of incarceration.
  • Unlimited Fine: Courts may impose fines with no upper limit, reflecting the seriousness of the offence.
  • Mandatory Driving Ban: A minimum of a 12-month driving ban is standard, extending to three years for those with two convictions within a decade.
  • Rehabilitation Course: Courts might refer convicted individuals to participate in a drink-drive rehabilitation course aimed at preventing re-offending.

For Alcohol-Related Fatal Incidents

If convicted of causing death while under the influence, the penalties escalate significantly:

  • Life Imprisonment: Courts can issue a life sentence.
  • Hefty Unlimited Fines: Unlimited fines further underscore the gravity of the offence.
  • Extended Driving Ban: A minimum five-year driving disqualification is implemented.
  • Extended Driving Test: Convicts must pass an additional comprehensive driving test to regain their licences.

Long-Term Repercussions

A drink-driving conviction extends beyond immediate legal penalties, impacting various aspects of life:

  • Skyrocketing Insurance Costs: Expect a significant surge in car insurance premiums due to the increased risk associated with drink-driving convictions.
  • Employment Challenges: Job loss is a real possibility, especially for positions that necessitate driving. Future employment opportunities might also be limited.
  • International Travel Restrictions: Getting visas for countries like the USA might become challenging.

Licence Points and Conviction Codes

  • Licence Points: Convictions result in points added to your driving licence, with the number dependent on the specific offence.
  • Conviction Codes DR10 to DR61: These codes remain on your driving record for 11 years from the conviction date.
  • Codes DR40 to DR70: These must be retained on the driving record for four years from the offence date or from the conviction date if a disqualification is imposed.

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

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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