Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 24, 2022

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Drivers in California can expect their car insurance rates to increase significantly following a DUI arrest. The impact on their auto insurance rates won’t go away until after 10 years, provided the driver has no additional DUI convictions.

Best Cheap Car Insurance after a DUI in California

California DUI Insurance - Quick Hits
AutoInsureSavings.orgCalifornia DUI Insurance facts are:

- You can expect your car insurance rates to rise from 50% to more than double your current rates in your first renewal after a DUI.
- A DUI will stay on your driving record in California for 10 years, during which time you cannot qualify for the 20% good driver discount.
- In the first 3 years following a DUI, the event will also directly affect your insurance rates.
- Your auto insurer will need to file an SR-22 after you have a DUI.
- Mercury provides the cheapest insurance rates immediately after a DUI.

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One of the biggest challenges for drivers with DUIs is securing a reasonably priced car insurance policy after a DUI conviction.

This is a problem everywhere in the United States, but it is challenging in California as insurance coverage is already expensive.

Best Companies for Car Insurance After a DUI in California

Mercury is the best car insurance provider in California for drivers who have a recent DUI conviction on their driving record.  Mercury gave our licensed agents the cheapest DUI insurance quotes at $2,790 or 38% less expensive than California’s average DUI rate.

An alternative is GEICO, which provided licensed insurance agents a $2,943 quote for full coverage after a DUI offense in California. GEICO’s rate is 34% cheaper than the state average.

We include the four cheapest insurance quotes we received for a 30-year-old single male with one recent DUI offense on his driving record.

California CompanyRate following a DUI
Auto Club of Southern California$3,067
State Farm$3,847
21st Century$4,580
California DUI average$4,431
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No auto insurer sells cheap DUI insurance policies in California. The easiest way to find the best providers is to compare quotes or contact the experts at

Learn more about car insurance and DUI offenses.

Proof of insurance after a DUI in California

The SR-22 is an insurance certificate that goes on file with California that serves as proof that you have coverage per California’s minimum liability coverage requirements. The good news is that there is no additional liability coverage requirement that comes with the SR-22 coverage; it is merely documenting your coverage with the court by filing the SR-22 form.

The difference between the SR-22 and the traditional proof of insurance you might be used to showing at your local DMV is the SR-22 is filed directly by your auto insurance company with the state.

Learn more about common police mistakes after a DUI offense.

If you already have car insurance, you can contact your provider and ask them to file for the SR-22 coverage. If you are purchasing a new insurance policy as a high-risk driver, you can ask them to file as you purchase the policy.

As an alternative to filing an SR-22 policy and still meeting California’s proof of liability coverage, the requirement is to obtain a surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California.

Although filing fees are quite low, drivers who need SR22 insurance will find that their rates are more expensive due to the DUI or other violations that led to the SR-22 requirement in the first place.

How long does a DUI affect your insurance rates in California?

In California, a DUI violation will stay on a driver’s record for 10 years. During that time, your auto insurance company is prohibited from offering you a good driver discount, which provides a discount of 20% of your total premium.

Aside from that, driving under the influence conviction will directly impact auto insurance policy rates as soon as you renew your policy, as it is a factor auto insurance companies consider in their underwriting.

In summary, a DUI will increase your auto insurance rates by more than 50% in the first year, will start to decrease after 3 years, and won’t impact your rates at all after 10 years.

How much do car insurance rates change after a DUI by the city?

The amount your particular coverage will change is dependent on many risk factors such as your zip code or location. Expect a significant rate increase – the average rate increases 165% after being convicted of a DUI in the first years.

DUI Car Insurance Prices by City in California

The amount you pay for car insurance premiums after being convicted of driving under the influence in California depends heavily on your zip code.

Some insurance companies will be more willing to insure drivers with DUIs and may have discounts geared toward saving them money.

Santa Rosa, San Diego, and San Francisco have the most expensive premiums after drunk driving offenses.

Simultaneously, Santa Ana, Pomona, and Moreno Valley are the least expensive areas if you get caught drinking and driving in California.

CityDUI rateCheapest Insurer
Los Angeles$3,135Infinity
San Diego$3,381Mercury
San Jose$2,753GEICO
San Francisco$3,742Progressive
Long Beach$3,080Progressive
Santa Ana$2,275Mercury
Stockton$3,067State Farm
Chula Vista$2,902Infinity
San Bernardino$3,317Progressive
Santa Clarita$3,074Progressive
Moreno Valley$2,365GEICO
Huntington Beach$2,817State Farm
Santa Rosa$3,572Infinity
Rancho Cucamonga$2,429Progressive
Garden Grove$2,726GEICO
Elk Grove$2,545Mercury
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*Make sure to compare quotes with multiple providers no matter the zip code you reside in.

Most car insurers in California will start offering lower premiums after 3 years with no additional driving under the influence charges (DUI conviction). After 5 years, an auto insurer will no longer consider it when calculating your premium.

They are, however, legally prohibited from offering you the 20% good driver discount until the DUI charge is off your driving record, which will happen after 10 years.

Please note that the above only applies if you do not incur another DUI violation after your first one. Every driving under the influence conviction you receive will reset your 10-year clock for the incident to fall off your driving record, and your car insurance rates will likely double over what your pre-DUI conviction rate was.

Items specific to the California insurance market

Good driver discount is regulated by law – you cannot qualify for the 20% discount if you have a DUI on your record, and the violation will stay on your record for 10 years.

— California also has a state-run affordable car insurance program which you may qualify for if your income is eligible.

Learn more about car insurance and DUI offenses.

For specific DUI laws, contact a DUI attorney.

— Carriers cannot use your credit score to determine your car insurance rates in California. This is good news if your credit is not the best, but not great if you have excellent credit, as it is one of the reasons coverage is more expensive in this state.

How to find the cheapest car insurance after a DUI in California

The only way to really find the cheapest rates after being convicted of a DUI in California is to obtain DUI insurance quotes from as many providers as possible. 

This is because all insurance carriers have different underwriting criteria and use different algorithms to calculate premiums. 

The models are quite complex and change constantly; therefore, the auto insurance company that offers the lower rate may not offer the lowest rate another year. 

Another thing to consider is that, as we cover in our California cheapest auto insurance recommendations that other risk factors heavily impact your rates, such as driving history, type of motor vehicle, or marital status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you hide a DUI from an auto insurance company?

No! Under no circumstances should you even try to hide DUI penalties from your car insurance company. This is highly illegal – in California, you must have SR-22 insurance, which means your auto insurance company has to know that you have a DUI for them to file the SR-22 with the state. They will likely find out when they run your driving record in any case.

Finally, even if you could hide a DUI from your insurance provider, your policy would be invalid once the company found out. If they had paid out a claim, you would be liable to return every penny, and the insurance company will sue you for damages caused by fraud.

Will my car insurance company drop me after a DUI in California?

It depends on your insurance company and your specific driving history, and risk factors. Most companies will not drop you for first-time DUI offenses, but they will raise your premiums significantly.

How do insurance companies find out about a DUI in California?

A DUI will go on your legal record and go on your DMV record, which insurance companies always check at the time of renewal.

This is generally the way they find out. Still, given that California requires DUI offenders to have SR-22 insurance, we recommend you contact your agent or car insurance carrier and let them know yourself to avoid being in non-compliance with state regulation.

How much does auto insurance after DUI in California cost over 10 years?

A DUI will cost the average driver in California over $5,000 across the span of 10 years. Your specific cost will vary, but this estimate is on the low end.

Given that DUI offenders cannot qualify for the 20% good driver discount, and the average non-DUI premium in California is around $1,700 per year, this is already $3,400 in missed discounts. Add to this the raised premiums you will experience for the first 3 years (typically in the thousands of dollars), and you very quickly get to see the true cost of DUI penalties.

To learn more about finding the best DUI options in California, contact the experts at Our licensed agents will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Methodology licensed insurance agents used average DUI rates for ten zip codes in California from Quadrant Information Services for 5 carriers with full coverage and a $500 deductible. We applied standard discounts such as paperless billing, multi-policy, and home insurance.

For minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect state laws.

Our sample 30-year-old driver drives a 2018 Honda Accord with 12,000 annual miles.
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– California Department of Motor Vehicles. “Car Insurance Requirements.”
– California Legislative Bill. “Good Driver Discount.”
– NOLO. “California Drunk Driving Laws.”

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