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Understanding DWI Car Insurance Rates in NC

most insurance companies in Raleigh NC charge a premium for insurance after a DWI

Navigating the aftermath of a Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge in North Carolina extends far beyond the courtroom. For individuals facing this ordeal, understanding how a DWI can impact car insurance rates is essential.

At the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, our Raleigh DWI attorneys recognize the complexities involved in post-DWI proceedings, which is why we are shedding light on DWI car insurance rates in NC. Whether you're seeking clarity or legal guidance, this guide aims to empower you with the knowledge needed to navigate the challenging terrain of car insurance rates following a DUI conviction.

What Constitutes DWI in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, DWI is a serious offense with significant legal and financial ramifications. Understanding what constitutes a DWI is crucial for all motorists to avoid potentially life-altering consequences.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

North Carolina employs a tiered system for DWI offenses based on the driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. The legal BAC limit for individuals operating motor vehicles is 0.08%. However, for commercial drivers, the limit is lower at 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, any detectable amount of alcohol can result in a DWI charge.

Types of DWI Charges and Penalties

North Carolina categorizes the criminal offense of DWI into five levels, each carrying varying penalties depending on aggravating factors such as multiple prior DWI convictions and the presence of minors in the vehicle. These levels range from Level V DWI, which is the least severe, to Level I DWI, which is the most severe. Penalties can include fines, license suspension or revocation, community service, mandatory substance abuse assessment, and even imprisonment.

Here are some of the long-term consequences of DUI convictions in NC:

  • Permanent criminal record: A DWI conviction becomes a part of your criminal record, potentially impacting employment opportunities, professional licenses, and your reputation.
  • Increased insurance premiums: Car insurance rates typically skyrocket after a DWI conviction, often doubling or tripling previous premiums.
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) requirement: In some cases, a court may order the installation of an IID in your vehicle, which requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before the car starts.
  • Professional and personal repercussions: A DWI conviction can affect various aspects of your life, including your ability to secure certain jobs, housing, or loans, as well as your relationships with family and friends.

How DWI Affects Car Insurance Rates

Drivers need to understand DUI insurance rates. Here's a look at the impact imposed by most insurance companies following a DUI charge.

Mandatory SR-22 Insurance

Following a DWI or DUI conviction, North Carolina typically requires individuals to obtain SR-22 insurance. SR-22 is not insurance itself but rather a form filed by your insurance company to confirm that you have the state-required minimum liability insurance coverage. This filing serves as proof of financial responsibility and is often required for drivers with a DWI conviction to reinstate or maintain their driving privileges.

Increased Premiums

One of the most significant impacts of a DWI conviction on car insurance is the substantial increase in premiums. Insurance companies view DWI convictions as high-risk behavior, resulting in higher premiums for individuals with such convictions. In many cases, premiums can double or triple after a DWI conviction, making car insurance considerably more expensive.

Potential Policy Cancellation or Non-Renewal

Some insurance companies may choose to cancel or not renew the policy of a driver convicted of a DWI. This can leave individuals scrambling to find alternative coverage, often at even higher rates due to the added risk associated with a recent DWI conviction.

Impact on Future Insurance Applications

A DWI/DUI conviction can have a long-term impact on your ability to obtain affordable car insurance coverage. Even after completing the required penalties and waiting for the conviction to drop off your record, insurance companies may still consider you a high-risk driver long after your conviction date, resulting in continued elevated premiums.

Loss of Discounts and Benefits

Many insurance companies offer discounts for safe driving records and the completion of defensive driving courses. However, even a first-offense DWI conviction can lead to the loss of these discounts and benefits, further contributing to higher insurance costs.

Understanding North Carolina's Insurance Points System

Understanding North Carolina's Insurance Points System is essential, especially for individuals facing DWI charges in the state. Here's an overview of how the system works and how DWI convictions impact insurance points.

Overview of the Insurance Points System

North Carolina operates under a unique insurance points system designed to assess the risk associated with individual drivers. Insurance points are assigned based on various factors, including driving infractions and convictions. The more severe the offense, the higher the number of points assigned.

How DWI Convictions Affect Insurance Points

A DWI conviction carries significant weight in North Carolina's insurance points system. Depending on the circumstances, a DWI conviction typically results in the assignment of 12 insurance points. This is one of the highest point values for any traffic violation in the state.

Calculation of Insurance Points

Insurance points are calculated based on the date of the conviction or occurrence of the offense. For DWI convictions, the points remain on your driving record for a specified period, usually three years from the date of conviction. During this time, insurance companies consider these points when determining your insurance premiums.

Impact on Premiums

The accumulation of insurance points, especially from serious offenses like DWI, can have a significant impact on your car insurance premiums. Insurance companies use points as a measure of risk, with more points indicating a higher likelihood of filing a claim. As a result, individuals with DWI convictions can expect substantial increases in their insurance premiums.

Long-Term Consequences

While insurance points may eventually expire on your driving record, the consequences of a DWI conviction can linger for years. Even after the points are removed, insurance companies may still consider the conviction when assessing your risk profile, resulting in continued elevated premiums.

Options for Mitigation

Despite the severity of DWI convictions in North Carolina's insurance points system, there are steps individuals can take to mitigate the impact on their insurance rates. This may include completing defensive driving courses, maintaining a clean driving record, and implementing DWI legal strategies from a reputable defense attorney to explore options for reducing charges, getting DWI charges dropped, or expunging the conviction from your record.

Factors Affecting DWI Car Insurance Rates

Several factors influence DWI car insurance rates in North Carolina, extending beyond the mere presence of a DWI conviction. Understanding these factors can provide insight into why insurance premiums increase following such an offense. 

Driver's Age and Driving History

Insurance companies often consider the driver's age and driving history when determining premiums. Younger drivers and those with a history of traffic violations or accidents typically pay higher premiums. A DWI conviction exacerbates this risk, leading to even higher rates, regardless of age.

Type of Vehicle Insured

The type of vehicle being insured can also impact insurance rates. High-performance or luxury vehicles typically incur higher premiums due to the increased cost of repairs or replacement. A DWI conviction further elevates the risk associated with insuring such vehicles, resulting in even higher premiums.


Where you live can affect your car insurance rates. Urban areas with higher traffic density and crime rates often have higher insurance premiums. Additionally, certain areas may have stricter enforcement of DWI laws, increasing the likelihood of convictions and subsequent insurance rate hikes.

Additional Factors Considered by Insurance Companies

Insurance companies may also consider additional factors when determining DWI car insurance rates.

These factors can include:

  • Credit score: In some states, including North Carolina, insurance companies may use credit scores as a factor in determining premiums. A lower credit score can result in higher insurance rates.
  • Marital status: Married individuals may be eligible for lower insurance rates compared to single individuals.
  • Annual mileage: The more you drive, the higher your risk of accidents, which can impact insurance rates.
  • Deductible amount: Choosing a higher deductible can lower your premiums, but it also means you'll pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim.

Driving Habits and Behavior

Some insurance companies offer usage-based insurance programs that track driving habits using telematics devices. Safe driving behaviors, such as obeying speed limits, avoiding sudden stops, and driving during off-peak hours, can lead to lower premiums. However, a DWI conviction undermines these efforts, leading to higher premiums regardless of driving behavior.

Contact Our Raleigh DWI Defense Attorneys Today 

If you're facing DWI charges in Raleigh or anywhere in North Carolina, don't navigate the legal complexities alone. Our team of experienced DWI defense attorneys at the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker is here to provide you with expert guidance and dedicated representation every step of the way.

We understand the challenges you're facing and are committed to protecting your rights and securing the best possible outcome for your case. Don't wait until it's too late– contact us today to schedule a consultation and start building your defense.

Get started today by calling us at  919-439-5104 or filling out the form below.