Auto Insurance

How does an impaired driving charge affect your car insurance rates?

By: Lisa Coxon on January 12, 2021

Impaired driving is a serious charge — so much so that it actually qualifies as a Criminal Code of Canada offence. Not only can it land you with a significant fine of anywhere from $250 to $2,250, depending on the province and whether it’s your first, second, or third conviction — it’s also guaranteed to leave you with a hefty increase to your car insurance premiums.

Just how much that increase will be depends on a number of factors, including your insurance provider’s policy, whether you live in a province where auto insurance is administered privately or publicly, and whether or not it’s your first offence.

Using data from the LowestRates.ca auto insurance quoter, we determined the percentage someone’s premium could increase if they’re convicted of impaired driving. To do this, we used a hypothetical 29-year-old male driver. We then got quotes for that driver in major cities in six different provinces. We also assumed the driver had a consistent insurance history since 2007. 

First, we determined the lowest annual insurance rate this driver could be quoted on our site with a clean driving record and then compared that with the lowest rate he was quoted after introducing one impaired driving conviction. Here’s what we found:

Impaired driving can increase insurance by 77% in some provinces

Insurance companies treat driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as a serious offence, which means your rates will rise significantly upon renewal. Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient data for all Canadian provinces. Here’s what we were able to determine for three provinces where auto insurance is privately run and three where it's publicly run.

  • Ontario (downtown Toronto): An impaired driving charge would increase our hypothetical driver’s premiums by 54%.
  • Quebec (downtown Montreal): An impaired driving charge would increase our hypothetical driver’s premiums by 77%.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (downtown St. John’s): An impaired driving charge would increase our hypothetical driver’s premiums by 70%.

Things work differently in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and B.C., where auto insurance is publicly administered. Let’s explore what could happen if our hypothetical driver received an impaired driving conviction in one of these provinces.

  • Manitoba (downtown Winnipeg)

Car insurance in Manitoba is administered publicly by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI). Using MPI’s insurance rate calculator for our hypothetical driver living in downtown Winnipeg, we get an estimate of $1,925/year. (This quote is based on a $500 deductible, $1,000,000 third-party liability coverage, and the driver agreeing to 12 pre-authorized insurance payments).

MPI uses something called the Driver Safety Rating (DSR) scale. Drivers can either move up or down the scale depending on their driving habits. You move up the scale for safe driving, which can then earn you a discount on your premiums, and you move down the scale for poor unsafe driving, which results in a DSR premium being added onto your existing insurance premium.

Assuming our hypothetical driver was starting at 0 on the scale, with no eligibility for a discount, an impaired driving conviction would move him down five, 10, or 15 levels, depending on whether or not it’s his first, second, or third offence. So, this would result in a DSR premium of either $450 (-5 levels), $1,000 (-10 levels), or $2,000 (-15 levels). The driver’s base premium wouldn’t change, however. But they would have to pay a DSR premium on top of it.

  • Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, auto insurance is publicly administered by Saskatchewan General Insurance (SGI) and it also relies upon a scale to determine insurance increases or discounts, called the Safe Driver Recognition (SDR) scale.

Using SGI’s rate calculator (which doesn’t consider the city you live in when determining rates), the cost of insurance for our hypothetical driver, starting at 0 on SGI’s scale, would be $1,432.22/year.

Because impaired driving is considered a Criminal Code Offence, our hypothetical driver would face a $1,250 to $2,250 fine, depending on what their blood alcohol level was and whether or not they refused to comply with an officer’s demands. They’d also be automatically bumped down to -20 on the SDR scale — the absolute lowest point in the Penalty Zone. According to SGI’s website, it would take three consecutive years of safe driving for a driver to return to 0.

  • British Columbia

In British Columbia, car insurance is administered publicly by the Insurance Corporation of British Columba (ICBC). Unfortunately, we could not obtain an estimate for insurance in British Columbia for our hypothetical driver, as ICBC’s quoting tool requires users to provide either a vehicle registration number or licence plate number.

However, according to ICBC’s website, British Columbia has the toughest laws on drinking and driving in Canada. If you’re convicted of impaired driving, you could face a fine of $600 to $4,060, which is likely dependent on whether or not the ticket is fought and/or imposed in court, and be subject to what’s called a Driver Risk Premium (DRP). This is a fee you’d have to pay on top of what you already pay annually for insurance. The DRP for Criminal Code convictions, which impaired driving is considered, is $1,303.

So, no matter if you live in a province where car insurance is privately or publicly administered, impaired driving will certainly increase the amount of money you pay for insurance. If the public danger of impaired driving isn’t enough to deter you, then consider the monetary impact a conviction like this will have on you. It literally pays to drive safely and not get behind the wheel when you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Methodology

  • 29-year-old male (DOB Jan. 4, 1991)
  • Single, employed, undergrad degree (for quebec)
  • Living in downtown area of major city since Jan 2020
  • Driving a 2019 Mazda CX-5 GS 4DR AWD (not leased)
  • Purchased vehicle in March 2020 (financed)
  • Winter tires
  • Street parking
  • G licence (or provincial equivalent)
  • Insured consistently since 2007
  • With current insurance company for two years
  • Drives 10 km daily to and from work
  • Drives 30,000 km in a year
  • Personal use
  • Wants comprehensive and collision coverage
  • Policy to start ASAP (October 2020)
  • No cancellations
  • No bundling discounts
  • Impaired driving charge: July 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

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