True Cost of a DUI in Washington After Insurance Increases

August 3, 2014 Auto Insurance, Insurance
True Cost of a DUI in Washington After Insurance Increases

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Washington state has the 25th highest number of drunk driving fatalities in the nation. If you get caught driving under the influence, you are putting yourself and others in danger, and the ticket itself is not the only price you will pay. Drivers who receive a DUI in Washington might also have attorney’s fees, alcohol education fees, lost wages and perhaps most damaging of all: increased car insurance rates.

One of the longest-lasting financial impacts from a DUI comes in the form of insurance increases. In Washington, car insurance increases will last on a driver’s record for five years after they receive a DUI.  The minimum fine for a first-time DUI in Washington is $940.50, but the resulting car insurance premium increases for the average Washington driver will be almost 2.5 times the initial fine—drivers will pay $2,334.01 more for insurance over the course of five years.

Key findings:

  • Depending on the severity of the fine, the true cost of a first-time DUI for Washington drivers is between $6,574.51and $10,634.01; 6.9 and 2.1 times the initial fines respectively. We calculated the true cost of a DUI by accounting for the fine, attorney’s fees, insurance increases and ignition interlock fees.
  • The typical Washington driver will pay $466.80 extra each year for insurance after a DUI. The increases last for five years after receiving a DUI, which means the average driver will pay $2,334.01 in insurance increases.
  • After a receiving a DUI, the average Washington driver will see his or her car insurance increase by 54.24%.

What are the costs associated with a DUI in Washington?

To calculate the “true cost” of getting a speeding ticket in Washington, we looked at four costs associated with DUIs:

1)   The fine: The fine that drivers pay depends on the situation. The minimum fine for a first-time offender with a BAC less than 0.15 is $940.50; the maximum is $5,000. According to Washington’s Administrative Office of the Courts, the average fine imposed for all convictions—not just first-time offenders—was $3,711 in 2013.

2)   Lawyer’s fees: According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Washington drivers who receive a DUI pay about $2,000 in lawyer’s fees.

3)   Ignition interlock device fees: If a driver wants to drive again, he or she will have to install an ignition interlock device in his or her car. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the device will cost about $1,300 for the first year.  In Washington, first-time offenders need to have the device for at least a year.

4)   Insurance premium increases: Drivers who receive DUIs will most likely see an increase in their annual car insurance premium, even if they shop again for insurance. The average increase in Washington is $466.80, but the actual amount will differ from place to place and driver to driver.

How can you minimize insurance costs after getting a DUI?

If you get a DUI, your car insurance company will often increase your car insurance rates and they might even drop your coverage outright. If they don’t drop you, however, it’s a good time to go shopping for a new carrier. Different insurance companies give different weighting to infractions like DUIs, and your current carrier may no longer be the cheapest.

Although it takes more time, consider getting phone quotes from a few insurers. This allows you to ask questions about your specific situation. Washington requires drivers convicted of DUIs to file SR-22 paperwork, which not all insurers support. In addition, be sure to ask about discounts—including those for vehicle safety features and bundling policies—which you may use, regardless of your driving history.

Comparison shopping may save you some money when you badly need it, but your insurance premiums will almost certainly increase. The question is, how much?

10 Washington cities with the most expensive DUIs

1. Tacoma

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,458.30
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,398.80

Tacoma residents have some of the highest average car insurance rates—$ 1,057.35 each year—in Washington. They also see the largest per-year dollar increase of any city for drivers who receive a DUI. Since car insurance rate increases last for five years, Tacoma residents can expect to pay $3,158.30 more in that time.

Tacoma area drivers are well-represented in the top 10. Five of the other communities with the most expensive insurance increases for DUIs are within a relatively short drive of Tacoma—though they do experience a fairly wide range of increases.

2. University Place

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,457.10
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,397.60

The average University Place driver pays about $150 more for car insurance each year than the Washington state average. University Place’s high car insurance rates mean that when the city’s drivers receive DUIs, they end up paying more for car insurance than other Washingtonians receiving DUIs.

University Place is located in Pierce County, which has a DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force that aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving. The task force utilizes displays at the Puyallup Fair and also hosts a holiday campaign to educate residents.

3. Lakewood

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,423.40
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,363.90

Lakewood drivers pay $1,040.61 for car insurance on average each year. However, after a DUI, that number will jump by $624.68 to $1,665.29. The city’s drivers can expect to pay $3,123.40 over five years.

Even within the Tacoma area, which has some of the highest DUI-related insurance increases in the state, Lakewood stands out. At 60%, the amount the average driver convicted of a DUI can expect his or her premium to jump is the second highest in the state, after University Place.

4. Federal Way

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,270.00
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,210.50

Federal Way ranks highest on the list among cities in Washington’s most populous county, King County. The average Federal Way resident pays $1,045.50 per year for car insurance, but after receiving a DUI, drivers can expect their annual premiums to skyrocket to $1,639.50.

King County has been criticized for slow prosecutions of drunk driving defendants in the past. The average defendant facing a court date in the county won’t be charged for 84 days from the time of arrest.

5. Puyallup

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,159.00
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,099.50

The average Puyallup driver with a clean record pays $975.73 per year for car insurance. Upon receiving a DUI, however, that yearly premium will increase by $571.80. Puyallup drivers can expect to pay $2,859.00 more for insurance over five years as a result of a single DUI.

In 2012, there were more than 34,000 alcohol and drug-related crashes in Washington. The state also experienced 185 fatal collisions involving an impaired driver that year. Though Pierce County has some of the state’s highest car insurance rates—before and after a DUI—it comes in second in the state in car crash fatalities.

6. Lynnwood

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,103.15
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,043.65

Lynnwood is one of three towns in Snohomish County to crack the top 10. Its drivers face the steepest car insurance increases in the county after a DUI. On average, Lynwood drivers will see their annual car insurance rates jump from $984.29 to $1,544.92 each year. The average Lynnwood driver will pay $2,803.15 more for car insurance over five years after receiving a DUI.

Not only do Lynnwood drivers have the highest insurance increases in the county for DUIs in dollar terms, but they also see the highest increases in percentage terms, about 57%. This means they’ll pay more than Seattle drivers over five years, even though Seattle drivers have a higher initial insurance rate.

7. Seattle

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,088.80
True cost with the minimum fine: $7,029.30

Though not by much, Seattle drivers with clean records have the most expensive car insurance premiums in the state. Even safe drivers will pay about $1,058.09 per year. The average rate for a driver convicted of a DUI goes up by about 53% for an average of $557.76 more per year.

Recently, Seattle lifted restrictions on ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. A study by Uber claims that after the company started serving Seattle, DUI arrests decreased by more than 10%.

8. Edmonds

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,054.90
True cost with the minimum fine: $6,995.40

Just west of Lynnwood, Edmonds drivers face slightly smaller car insurance increases after receiving a DUI. On average, Edmonds drivers with clean records pay $968.44 for car insurance each year. After receiving a DUI, however, Edmonds drivers can expect their annual car insurance rates to increase by $550.98. Since rates last for five years, Edmonds drivers will pay $2,754.90 in extra car insurance costs.

Snohomish County has multiple efforts aimed at decreasing DUIs, as well as a memorial wall for DUI victims. The county also publishes a list of taxi and limo services residents can use if they’re impaired, and it runs a series of victim panels for offenders.

9. Mountlake Terrace

True cost with the maximum fine: $11,033.95
True cost with the minimum fine: $6,974.45

Mountlake Terrace drivers face steep car insurance premium increases after they receive DUIs. Residents of Mountlake Terrace, located just north of Seattle, pay an average of $990.75 for car insurance but, after a DUI, they can expect their yearly premiums to increase by $546.79 to $1,537.54. In total, Mountlake Terrace residents will pay $2,733.95 more for car insurance over the course of their penalty.

According to a 2012 report from the state of Washington, Snohomish County had the state’s third-highest number of traffic fatalities—34 that year. The county had seven fewer fatalities than Pierce County, though they had about 700 more traffic accidents.

10.  Auburn

True cost with the maximum fine: $10,986.45
True cost with the minimum fine: $6,926.95

After a DUI, the average Auburn driver can expect to see his or her yearly car insurance premiums increase by about 52%. On average, Auburn drivers pay $1,032.86 for car insurance each year, but after a DUI, that premium will rise to $ 1,570.15. Auburn residents will pay an extra $2,686.45 for car insurance over 5 years.

Auburn sits mostly within King County, which had Washington’s highest level of collisions and traffic fatalities in 2012. Its rate of traffic fatalities, however, is relatively low. In 2012, King County had a fatality rate of 0.56 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled—lower than Snohomish (0.63) and Pierce (0.68), and more than six times less than the rate in Pend Orielle County (3.57).

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The Full List

Click here for a link to the to full data set.

Rank Cities Annual car insurance premium DUI premium Dollar increase Percentage increase 5 year insurance increase Fine True cost
1 Tacoma $1,057.35 $1,689.01 $631.66 59.74% $3,158.30 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,398.80
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,458.30
2 University Place $1,013.08 $1,644.50 $631.42 62.33% $3,157.10 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,397.60
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,457.10
3 Lakewood $1,040.61 $1,665.29 $624.68 60.03% $3,123.40 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,363.90
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,423.40
4 Federal Way $1,045.50 $1,639.50 $594.00 56.81% $2,970.00 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,210.50
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,270.00
5 Puyallup $975.73 $1,547.53 $571.80 58.60% $2,859.00 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,099.50
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,159.00
6 Lynnwood $984.29 $1,544.92 $560.63 56.96% $2,803.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,043.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,103.15
7 Seattle $1,058.09 $1,615.85 $557.76 52.71% $2,788.80 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $7,029.30
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,088.80
8 Edmonds $968.44 $1,519.42 $550.98 56.89% $2,754.90 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,995.40
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,054.90
9 Mountlake Terrace $990.75 $1,537.54 $546.79 55.19% $2,733.95 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,974.45
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $11,033.95
10 Auburn $1,032.86 $1,570.15 $537.29 52.02% $2,686.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,926.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,986.45
11 Everett $950.61 $1,476.09 $525.48 55.28% $2,627.40 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,867.90
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,927.40
12 Marysville $939.98 $1,464.96 $524.98 55.85% $2,624.90 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,865.40
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,924.90
13 Lake Stevens $938.17 $1,459.00 $520.83 55.52% $2,604.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,844.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,904.15
14 Mukilteo $946.58 $1,464.96 $518.38 54.76% $2,591.90 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,832.40
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,891.90
15 Kent $1,038.36 $1,547.98 $509.62 49.08% $2,548.10 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,788.60
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,848.10
16 Monroe $950.21 $1,458.50 $508.29 53.49% $2,541.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,781.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,841.45
17 Mercer Island $925.08 $1,424.38 $499.30 53.97% $2,496.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,737.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,796.50
18 Enumclaw $937.71 $1,437.00 $499.29 53.25% $2,496.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,736.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,796.45
19 Kenmore $942.08 $1,438.92 $496.84 52.74% $2,484.20 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,724.70
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,784.20
20 Bothell $952.33 $1,446.94 $494.61 51.94% $2,473.05 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,713.55
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,773.05
21 Maple Valley $939.25 $1,430.83 $491.58 52.34% $2,457.90 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,698.40
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,757.90
22 Bellevue $918.93 $1,410.38 $491.45 53.48% $2,457.25 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,697.75
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,757.25
23 Redmond $933.50 $1,424.65 $491.15 52.61% $2,455.75 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,696.25
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,755.75
24 Bonney Lake $975.88 $1,464.58 $488.70 50.08% $2,443.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,684.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,743.50
25 Renton $995.74 $1,481.82 $486.08 48.82% $2,430.40 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,670.90
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,730.40
26 Woodinville $939.96 $1,424.65 $484.69 51.56% $2,423.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,663.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,723.45
27 Kirkland $932.92 $1,410.38 $477.46 51.18% $2,387.30 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,627.80
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,687.30
28 Vancouver $867.72 $1,333.31 $465.59 53.66% $2,327.95 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,568.45
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,627.95
29 Spokane $827.22 $1,289.26 $462.04 55.85% $2,310.20 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,550.70
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,610.20
30 Sammamish $905.21 $1,365.40 $460.19 50.84% $2,300.95 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,541.45
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,600.95
31 Olympia $814.60 $1,271.47 $456.87 56.09% $2,284.35 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,524.85
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,584.35
32 Lacey $824.25 $1,277.88 $453.63 55.04% $2,268.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,508.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,568.15
33 Aberdeen $771.58 $1,220.88 $449.30 58.23% $2,246.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,487.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,546.50
34 Kelso $783.71 $1,230.83 $447.12 57.05% $2,235.60 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,476.10
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,535.60
35 Snoqualmie $881.75 $1,328.38 $446.63 50.65% $2,233.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,473.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,533.15
36 Centralia $776.08 $1,221.17 $445.09 57.35% $2,225.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,465.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,525.45
37 Longview $787.79 $1,232.67 $444.88 56.47% $2,224.40 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,464.90
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,524.40
38 Camas $839.38 $1,282.17 $442.79 52.75% $2,213.95 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,454.45
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,513.95
39 Cheney $761.13 $1,202.71 $441.58 58.02% $2,207.90 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,448.40
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,507.90
40 Washougal $840.63 $1,282.17 $441.54 52.52% $2,207.70 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,448.20
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,507.70
41 Arlington $905.79 $1,346.08 $440.29 48.61% $2,201.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,441.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,501.45
42 Bainbridge Island $750.92 $1,188.33 $437.41 58.25% $2,187.05 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,427.55
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,487.05
43 Issaquah $878.75 $1,313.88 $435.13 49.52% $2,175.65 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,416.15
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,475.65
44 Battle Ground $851.67 $1,282.17 $430.50 50.55% $2,152.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,393.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,452.50
45 Bremerton $785.13 $1,213.83 $428.70 54.60% $2,143.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,384.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,443.50
46 Port Orchard $786.83 $1,213.83 $427.00 54.27% $2,135.00 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,375.50
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,435.00
47 Port Angeles $721.79 $1,147.96 $426.17 59.04% $2,130.85 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,371.35
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,430.85
48 Yakima $794.84 $1,218.17 $423.33 53.26% $2,116.65 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,357.15
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,416.65
49 Sunnyside $767.17 $1,188.25 $421.08 54.89% $2,105.40 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,345.90
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,405.40
50 Grandview $765.17 $1,185.88 $420.71 54.98% $2,103.55 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,344.05
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,403.55
51 Moses Lake $733.42 $1,151.04 $417.62 56.94% $2,088.10 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,328.60
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,388.10
52 Bellingham $762.68 $1,174.13 $411.45 53.95% $2,057.25 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,297.75
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,357.25
53 Richland $747.13 $1,154.96 $407.83 54.59% $2,039.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,279.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,339.15
54 West Richland $748.13 $1,154.96 $406.83 54.38% $2,034.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,274.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,334.15
55 Kennewick $749.68 $1,155.71 $406.03 54.16% $2,030.15 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,270.65
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,330.15
56 Anacortes $736.54 $1,138.08 $401.54 54.52% $2,007.70 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,248.20
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,307.70
57 Oak Harbor $737.46 $1,138.08 $400.62 54.32% $2,003.10 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,243.60
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,303.10
58 Ferndale $739.21 $1,138.08 $398.87 53.96% $1,994.35 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,234.85
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,294.35
59 Lynden $739.63 $1,138.08 $398.45 53.87% $1,992.25 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,232.75
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,292.25
60 Mount Vernon $743.15 $1,138.08 $394.93 53.14% $1,974.65 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,215.15
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,274.65
61 Pasco $732.00 $1,126.00 $394.00 53.83% $1,970.00 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,210.50
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,270.00
62 Sedro Woolley $746.58 $1,138.08 $391.50 52.44% $1,957.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,198.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,257.50
63 Walla Walla $702.79 $1,089.50 $386.71 55.02% $1,933.55 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,174.05
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,233.55
64 Pullman $736.46 $1,114.96 $378.50 51.39% $1,892.50 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,133.00
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,192.50
65 Ellensburg $721.38 $1,098.67 $377.29 52.30% $1,886.45 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,126.95
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,186.45
66 Wenatchee $729.33 $1,102.79 $373.46 51.21% $1,867.30 Minimum Fine ($940.50): $6,107.80
Maximum Fine ($5,000): $10,167.30

Methodology

To calculate the true cost of a first-time DUI conviction, we accounted for the minimum and maximum fines mandated by Washington’s courts, attorney’s fees, ignition interlock fees and insurance premium increases. Actual DUI-related costs will vary from driver to driver. To determine the average insurance premium increases, we first calculated the average annual car insurance premium for drivers with clean records and then calculated the average car insurance premium for drivers who were convicted of a DUI with a BAC of .08. The estimated insurance costs are for illustrative purposes only. The actual insurance increases you face will vary depending on your insurance carrier, your location and other factors. NerdWallet only surveyed cities with populations greater than 10,000 residents.


Image of driver being pulled over via Shutterstock.

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