Being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs in Florida can have a major effect on your auto insurance.

Following a DUI, you're required to get an FR44 certificate. An FR44 is proof that you have the required liability insurance per state policy.

It's important to understand how insurance with an FR44 certificate works in Florida. You also want to know where and how to shop for this insurance coverage and the rules that apply.

What are the consequences of a DUI conviction in Florida?

The repercussions of a first DUI conviction in Florida can include:

  • Fines. "If this is your first conviction, your fine will be between $500 and $2,000," says Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications for the Insurance Information Institute. "If your blood alcohol level is 0.15 or higher, or if you have a minor in the vehicle at the time of arrest, your fine may run between $2,000 and $4,000."
  • Community service. You'll need to serve a mandatory 50 hours of community service or pay an additional fine of $10 for each hour of required community service.
  • Probation. "For first convictions, the total period of probation and incarceration won't be greater than one year," Friedlander says.
  • Imprisonment. This is at the court's discretion. Sentencing terms may be served at a correctional facility, a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, which can be credited toward the term of imprisonment. "For your first conviction, you could be sentenced to six months in jail for having a minor in the vehicle, nine months for having a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher and up to 12 months if you are involved in an accident."

Additionally, this conviction can stay on your motor vehicle record for up to 75 years.

"Florida has one of the most stringent DUI regulations in the United States, and this conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life," Friedlander cautions.

Zero-tolerance law for younger drivers

Florida also has a zero-tolerance law that applies when the intoxicated driver is younger than 21 years old:

  • Drivers under 21 who are convicted of driving while under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 can lose their driver’s license for six months.
  • Drivers under 21 with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher must take a substance abuse course, too.
  • A driving under the influence conviction also requires an FR44 certificate, and it will likely lead to more expensive car insurance premiums.

What is an FR44 certificate?

An FR44 form is a certificate of financial responsibility (FR). FR44 demonstrates that you carry required liability insurance after being convicted of a DUI.

Auto insurance companies issue the FR44, filed with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV), once your premium is paid in full. You’re also not allowed to cancel your insurance coverage.

An "FR44" isn’t insurance. It's a document that proves you meet Florida's property damage liability insurance requirements.

"An FR44 certificate is like a rider the government requires when an owner or operator of a vehicle is convicted of a DUI," says Andrew Mallory, attorney/partner at Byrne Mallory, PLLC, in St. Petersburg, Florida. "Without this FR44 form, your license can be revoked."

Friedlander notes that the cost to file an FR44 form in Florida typically runs from $15 to $25. This certificate must remain on file for at least three years.

Florida and Virginia are the only states that require getting an FR44 certificate after a DUI conviction.

FR44 insurance requirements in Florida

When you’re required to obtain an FR44 certificate, you must have auto insurance in place.

You're also obligated to have a minimum amount of liability coverage on your automobile insurance:

  • $50,000 of property damage liability
  • $100,000 of bodily injury per person liability
  • $300,000 of bodily injury liability per accident/occurrence.

Regardless of the FR44, it's usually a wise idea to have at least $300,000 in liability coverage.

How long do you have to have FR44 insurance?

Florida law requires your FR44 certificate to be kept on file for at least three years.

"You have to keep your record clean of another DUI or felony traffic offense over those three years or the FR44 requirement can be extended past three years," he says.

Keep a clean driving record and the FR44 certificate will expire after 36 months.

What is the difference between SR22 insurance and FR44 insurance?

Say your driver's license was suspended for a non-DUI-related offense. In this case, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may require you to obtain an SR22 certificate of financial responsibility instead of an FR44 certificate.

As with an FR44, an SR22 verifies that you purchased sufficient vehicle insurance coverage required by Florida to reinstate your driving privileges.

"A key difference between these two certificates is that you are only required to carry the minimum liability limits with an SR22 certificate versus being required to carry higher limits with an FR44," Friedlander points out.

Where can I get FR44 insurance?

If you've been convicted of a DUI, contact your auto insurance company right away and advise them of the circumstances. Expect your auto insurance premium to increase.

Of course, instead of paying the higher premium, you’re free to shop around for a new carrier and auto insurance policy in hopes of finding the cheapest FR44 insurance. But if you select a new auto insurance company, they will still need to issue and file an FR44 on your behalf.

"Most carriers, like Allstate, Geico and State Farm, offer FR44-type auto insurance," says David Fuchs, an injury and accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale.

Be aware, however, that having an FR44 certificate will categorize you as a high-risk driver, regardless of the car insurance company.

"This status could increase your premium by 100% or more for coverage compared to a driver without an FR44," says Friedlander. "Other typical rating factors will also be used by an insurer to determine your premium, including your age, gender, marital status, year and make of your vehicle, credit history and location."

How to get lower insurance rates when you have an FR44

To improve your chances of lowering your FR44-related auto insurance costs, Fuchs recommends the following tips:

  • Bundle your auto insurance with a home or renter's insurance policy.
  • Ask for a higher deductible. Higher deductibles result in lower premiums.
  • Consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage if you have an older car, as insurance typically only covers up to the vehicle’s worth. "So, for example, if you had a 2001 Honda Odyssey worth $1,500 today but got into an accident that caused $3,000 of damage, you wouldn't receive more than $1,500 to fix your vehicle," says Fuchs.
  • Take a defensive driving course, if offered, which could trigger a discount.

Getting FR44 insurance without a vehicle

You'll still need to file an FR44 certificate of financial responsibility if you don't own a vehicle but want to keep your driver's license and want the ability to drive someone else's car. In this case, a non-owner certificate can reinstate your license. And you'll need a non-owner car insurance policy (also referred to as a named-operator liability policy).

"Basically, this policy is a more affordable option for someone who doesn't own a vehicle and won't be driving their own for some time. It's seen as secondary coverage and insures someone no matter what vehicle they drive," Fuchs says.

Friedlander says this policy is designed for non-owning drivers who may require liability insurance for reasons, such as:

  • You frequently rent a car.
  • You regularly borrow a car from a friend or neighbor but aren’t listed as an insured driver on their personal auto policy.
  • You are attempting to get a driver's license.
  • Your license is suspended and you need to file an SR22 certificate.
  • You've been insured for some time but are between cars and desire uninterrupted insurance coverage.

"Note that a non-owner car insurance policy provides third-party coverage for the named insured only. No other drivers can be listed on the policy," says Friedlander. "A non-owner policy provides bodily injury and property damage liability if you are in an at-fault accident. It can also cover you for injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. But it does not cover damage to any vehicle."