29 Apr

UK Drink-Driving Laws: What You Need To Know & How It Affects Insurance

Andy Moody
Driving Tips

We all know that driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offence, not to mention incredibly dangerous. The effect of alcohol impairment can easily prove dangerous or even fatal to yourself or others.

If a police officer catches you over the legal limit, you will likely face a driving ban or a few points on your licence and a monetary fine. Depending on the circumstances, you might even be facing a prison sentence.

Whatever the penalty, one thing is for sure; it will cost you a lot of money.

We’re going to run you through the UK’s drink driving laws, so you can understand just how serious an offence it is. And, as temporary car insurance experts, we’re going to help you understand how drink driving could affect your policy.

Is It Possible To Get Car Insurance After Being Convicted For Drink-Driving?

Possible, yes… Easy? Probably not.

If you are convicted of drink-driving, you can expect to earn points on your licence or receive a 12-month ban or even a prison sentence. When your ban comes to an end, you will need to apply for a new licence, and you are sure to see a drastic rise in your insurance premiums.

There’s a good chance you may even get a flat out ‘no’ from insurance companies unwilling to take you on as a client.

Some good news though. If you have not been involved in more than two accidents in the last three years, you may be eligible for temporary car insurance with GoShorty.

Am I Required To Inform My Car Insurance Provider About My Drink- Driving Conviction?

Yes, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, you must declare your drink-driving conviction to insurance providers for five years.

After five years, the conviction will be classed as “spent”, and it is no longer necessary to declare it.

How Can A Drink-Driving Conviction Influence The Cost Of Car Insurance?

Once you’ve been caught drunk driving, you’ll have amassed a few points on your licence. which is going to add a few pounds to your insurance.

For anyone convicted of two or more drink-driving offences within the last ten years and part of the high-risk offender scheme, insurance premiums are considerably higher because a claim will be made against you.

Are There Ways To Reduce The Cost Of Car Insurance If I Have Been Convicted Of Drink-Driving?

Once you have been convicted of driving over the legal limit, it will cost you more. However, you can do a few things to reduce the now-inflated cost of your motor vehicle insurance.

The best thing you can do is compare quotes until you find an insurance provider willing to take the following things into account…

Take a drink-driving rehabilitation course

Opting to take a drink-driving rehabilitation course will demonstrate recognition of your careless driving and a commitment to avoiding a future traffic offence.

Whilst, not every insurance provider will agree to reduce your premiums just because you take the course, many will.

Pay more for your excess

Excess is a fixed amount paid to your insurance provider if you make a claim. For example, if your excess is £200 and you make a claim of £500, the insurance provider will keep the £200 and pay you the remaining £300.

Compulsory excess is a fixed amount you are obliged to pay. This will vary depending on your insurance premium and level of risk. Opting to pay an increased voluntary excess will demonstrate a commitment to becoming a better driver – and if you make a claim, the insurance company gets to keep more of the money…

Reduce your mileage

This is easy: the less you drive, the less likely you will be involved in a road accident or traffic offence.

Obtain a black box

Depending on the insurance provider, drivers with a history of violating the road safety may receive a reduced premium if they agree to have telematics or a ‘black’ box.

Improve your vehicle’s security

If you can, keep your vehicle inside a garage or on a private driveway. The insurance premium for a vehicle kept ‘off road’ is typically lower.

Will drinking and driving invalidate my vehicle insurance policy?

Your insurance may not be entirely invalidated for driving over the blood alcohol limit. Still, if you are involved in a road traffic act, your insurance provider might refuse to pay for injury or your vehicle.

Your insurance may be invalidated should you refuse to comply with a breath, blood, or urine test when requested.

They are required to pay out for claims made by third parties but if you were not completely sober, expect them to sting you for it!

The Drink-Drive Limit In The UK

The UK has a strict limit for how much alcohol a person is allowed to consume and still get behind the wheel, but since alcohol affects people differently, it is not possible to say: ” that’s X glasses of wine or pints of beer.”

  • Alcohol in the bloodstream: In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the legal alcohol limit is 80 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of blood. In Scotland, it is 22 micrograms.
  • Alcohol in your breath: In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the legal alcohol limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. In Scotland, it is 50 micrograms.
  • Alcohol in your urine: In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the legal alcohol limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 107ml of urine. In Scotland, it is 67 micrograms.

The most accurate and up to date information can be found here

The Penalties You Will Face If Found Guilty Of Drink-Driving In The UK

Is drinking alcohol worth risking your hard-earned cash, the licence it took you so long to obtain… or even your freedom?

A comprehensive guide to the UK Driving Penalties can be found here.

If you’re caught driving over the legal limit:

  • A prison sentence
  • A varied, though heft fine
  • A driving ban of at least 12 months (or three years if this is your second conviction in a ten year period)

If you’re responsible for causing death by driving under the influence of alcohol, you could face:

  • 14 years in prison
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least two years
  • An extended driving test before your licence is returned

A drink-driving conviction may also have other implications, such as:

  • A significant increase in your car insurance premiums – and that’s just with the insurance providers willing to take you on at all
  • If you drive as part of your job, your employer will see your conviction on your licence, and you could end up being let go – unemployment will make that fine fun to pay
  • You might have trouble travelling abroad to countries like the USA, Canada or parts of Asia

Other Important Information about Drink Driving

How long does a drink-driving ban stay on your licence?

4-11 years, depending on the severity of the offence and whether it was your first drink-driving conviction.

How much is car insurance after a drink-driving ban?

The cost of your insurance premiums following a drink-driving conviction will vary, but you can expect the drink-driving insurance premiums to be at least double what you were paying before.

Car insurance for drink drivers is also hard to come by – you may find your previous insurer is unwilling to give you cover following your conviction.

Will I get penalty points for drink-driving?

You may receive 3-11 penalty points on your driving licence

If you have more than six penalty points on your licence, many temporary insurance companies, including GoShorty will be unable to consider you for a short-term driving insurance policy.

Click here for more up-to-date information on the UK’s Penalty Points.

What happens if you don’t declare driving convictions?

If you fail to declare a conviction to your insurance provider, your car insurance will almost certainly be voided immediately.

If your insurance provider is still willing to keep you on as a client, you might still see your insurance premium rise.

In some cases, failure to declare an active conviction might result in another conviction.

How long should I wait to drive after drinking?

The drink-drive limit can be a bit of a grey area because alcohol affects everyone differently. Factors including your body mass and when you last ate can drastically alter your alcohol metabolism and blood alcohol concentration.

As offered by Metropolitan Police, the best advice is to avoid drinking alcohol altogether if you plan to get behind the wheel.

If you need to drive soon after drinking, keep in mind that the body can process 1 ounce of liquor on average.

Stay Safe and Avoid Drink Driving Altogether

The legal drink-driving limit is there for a reason, and if you thwart it, you can expect to feel the financial sting of an unlimited fine and drastic inflation of your insurance premiums.

If you have a drink-driving conviction in your past but are looking for car insurance, shop around for the best quote and speak to insurance providers about what you can do to demonstrate your worth as an improved driver and reduce your car insurance premium.