Strictest And Most Lenient States On DUI
Drunk driving takes a terrible toll on the United States – one measured not only in dollars, but also far more importantly, in lives lost. It was to blame for 29% of motor vehicle fatalities in 2015, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It claims roughly 10,000 lives per year. And it costs Americans more than $44 billion annually.
There is good news, though. Drunk-driving fatalities dropped by 57% from 1982 to 2014, according to the NHTSA, as states have cracked down on the practice. As a result, motor vehicle crashes are no longer among America’s top 10 causes of death.
But which states are taking the most aggressive stance toward “driving under the influence” (DUI) and “driving while intoxicated” (DWI)? To find out, WalletHub compared the drunk driving penalties in all 50 states and D.C. You can find a complete breakdown below.
|Overall Rank (1=Strictest)||State||Total Score||Criminal Penalties Rank||Prevention Rank|
|50||District of Columbia||22.27%||31||50|
|Overall Rank||State||Min. Jail Time (1st conviction)||Min. Jail Time (2nd conviction)||DUI Is Automatic Felony||How Long Old DUI Factors Into Penalties||Administrative License Suspension||Vehicle Impound||Ignition Interlock Mandatory||Ignition Interlock Mandatory Period||Additional Penalties for High BAC||Mandatory Alcohol Assessment||Min. Fine (1st conviction)||Min. Fine (2nd conviction)||“No-Refusal” Sobriety Testing||Average Insurance Rate Increase After DUI||Child Endangerment Protection||Sobriety Checkpoints||Other Penalties||Total Score (See Methodology)|
|1||Arizona***||10 days||90 days||Third Offense||7 Years||90 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$750||$1750||Yes||37%||Yes||Yes||Yes||84.09%|
|2||Georgia**||10 days||90 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||360 days||No||2nd conviction||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$300||$600||Yes||47%||Yes||Yes||Yes||70.45%|
|3||Alaska||3 days||20 days||Third Offense||15 years||90 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||No||$1500||$3000||Yes||80%||Yes||No||No||65.00%|
|4||Kansas* ***||2 Days||90 days||Third Offense||10 years||30 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$750||$1250||Yes||46%||Yes||Yes||Yes||64.09%|
|4||Oklahoma***||10 days||5 days||Second Offense||10 years||180 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||18 months||above 0.15 BAC||No||$0||$0||Yes||28%||Yes||Yes||Yes||64.09%|
|6||Nebraska||7 days||30 days||Fourth Offense||15 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||No||$500||$500||Yes||58%||Yes||Yes||Yes||61.82%|
|7||Connecticut*||2 days||120 days||Third Offense||10 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$500||$1000||No||100%||Yes||Yes||Yes||60.91%|
|8||Utah***||2 days||10 days||Third Offense||10 years||120 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||18 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$1370||$1560||Yes||39%||Yes||Yes||No||60.45%|
|9||Delaware***||No minimum sentence||60 days||Third Offense||10 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||14 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$500||$750||Yes||31%||Yes||Yes||No||55.91%|
|10||West Virginia||No minimum sentence||180 days||Third Offense||10 years||180 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||4.17 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$100||$1000||Yes||59%||Yes||Yes||No||54.55%|
|11||Colorado***||5 days||10 days||Fourth Offense||7 Years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||8 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$600||$600||Yes||34%||Yes||Yes||Yes||54.09%|
|12||Virginia||No minimum sentence||30 days||Third Offense||10 years||7 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$250||$500||Yes||42%||Yes||Yes||No||52.27%|
|13||Texas*||3 days||30 days||Third Offense||For Life||90 days||Yes||2nd conviction||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||No||$0||$0||Yes||44%||Yes||No||No||51.36%|
|14||Louisiana* ***||2 days||30 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||45 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$300||$750||Yes||62%||Yes||Yes||Yes||50.91%|
|15||Washington*||1 day||30 days||Fifth Offense||7 years||90 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$940.5||$1195||Yes||28%||Yes||No||No||50.45%|
|16||Oregon* ***||2 days||8 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$1000||$1500||No||26%||Yes||No||Yes||49.55%|
|17||Florida*||No minimum sentence||10 days||Third Offense||10 years||180 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .15||6 months||above 0.2 BAC||Yes||$500||$1000||Yes||40%||Yes||Yes||Yes||48.64%|
|18||Nevada***||2 days||10 days||Third Offense||7 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||3 months||above 0.18 BAC||Yes||$400||$750||Yes||29%||Yes||Yes||Yes||46.82%|
|19||Illinois||No minimum sentence||5 days||Third Offense||10 years||180 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$0||$0||Yes||70%||Yes||Yes||Yes||46.36%|
|19||Tennessee||2 days||45 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||None||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.2 BAC||Yes||$350||$600||Yes||19%||Yes||Yes||No||46.36%|
|21||California||4 days||10 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||120 days||Yes||No||3 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$390||$390||Yes||103%||Yes||Yes||No||45.45%|
|22||Arkansas***||1 day||7 days||Fourth Offense||5 years||180 days||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$150||$400||No||68%||Yes||Yes||Yes||43.64%|
|22||Massachusetts||No minimum sentence||30 days||Third Offense||For Life||90 days||No||2nd conviction||24 months||above 0.2 BAC||No||$500||$600||No||67%||Yes||Yes||No||43.64%|
|24||Iowa**||2 Days||7 days||Third Offense||12 years||180 days||No||No||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||No||$625||$1875||No||60%||Yes||No||Yes||42.73%|
|25||Kentucky**||2 days||7 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||120 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||6 months||above 0.18 BAC||Yes||$200||$350||No||48%||Yes||Yes||Yes||42.27%|
|26||Hawaii||2 days||5 days||Fourth Offense||5 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$150||$500||No||62%||Yes||Yes||Yes||41.82%|
|27||Minnesota***||No minimum sentence||2 days||Second Offense||10 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||12 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$0||$0||Yes||37%||Yes||No||Yes||40.45%|
|27||South Carolina***||2 days||5 days||Fourth Offense||10 Years||30 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$400||$2100||No||27%||Yes||Yes||Yes||40.45%|
|29||New Mexico||No minimum sentence||4 days||Fourth Offense||For Life||180 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0.16 BAC||No||$0||$500||No||46%||No||Yes||Yes||39.55%|
|29||New York||No minimum sentence||5 days||Second Offense||10 years||30 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||6 months||above 0.18 BAC||Yes||$500||$1000||No||49%||Yes||Yes||No||39.55%|
|31||New Hampshire***||No minimum sentence||17 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||180 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||12 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$500||$750||No||79%||Yes||Yes||No||38.64%|
|32||Alabama***||No minimum sentence||48 hours||Fourth Offense||5 years||90 days||No||2nd conviction||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$600||$1100||Yes||54%||Yes||Yes||Yes||38.18%|
|33||Rhode Island||No minimum sentence||10 days||Third Offense||5 years||None||Yes||1st conviction / BAC .08||24 months||above 0.1 BAC||No||$100||$400||No||25%||Yes||No||Yes||37.27%|
|34||Missouri||No minimum sentence||No minimum sentence||Third Offense||5 years||90 days||No||2nd conviction||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$0||$0||Yes||39%||Yes||Yes||Yes||36.82%|
|35||Maine||No minimum sentence||7 days||None Offense||10 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||5 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$500||$700||Yes||56%||Yes||Yes||No||36.36%|
|35||North Carolina***||1 day||7 days||Fourth Offense||7 years||30 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||No||$200||$2000||Yes||112%||Yes||Yes||Yes||36.36%|
|37||Indiana||No minimum sentence||5 days||Second Offense||5 years||180 days||No||No||12 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$0||$0||Yes||56%||Yes||Yes||No||35.45%|
|37||Wisconsin***||No minimum sentence||5 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||180 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||12 months||above 0.17 BAC||Yes||$150||$350||Yes||51%||Yes||No||No||35.45%|
|37||Wyoming||No minimum sentence||7 days||Fourth Offense||10 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||6 months||above 0.15 BAC||Yes||$0||$200||No||52%||Yes||No||Yes||35.45%|
|40||Montana||1 day||7 days||Fourth Offense||For Life||None||No||2nd conviction||6 months||above 0.16 BAC||Yes||$600||$1200||No||39%||Yes||No||Yes||35.00%|
|41||Mississippi||No minimum sentence||5 days||Third Offense||5 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||3 months||above 0 BAC||No||$250||$600||Yes||27%||Yes||Yes||Yes||34.09%|
|42||Vermont***||No minimum sentence||2.5 days||Third Offense||For Life||90 days||Yes||2nd conviction||0 months||above 0 BAC||Yes||$0||$0||No||67%||No||Yes||No||33.64%|
|43||Michigan||No minimum sentence||5 days||Third Offense||7 years||None||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||12 months||above 0.17 BAC||Yes||$100||$200||Yes||9%||Yes||No||Yes||30.91%|
|43||Pennsylvania*||No minimum sentence||5 days||None Offense||10 Years||None||No||1st conviction / BAC .10||12 months||above 0.1 BAC||Yes||$300||$300||Yes||25%||Yes||Yes||No||30.91%|
|45||New Jersey||No minimum sentence||2 days||None Offense||10 years||None||No||1st conviction / BAC .15||6 months||above 0.1 BAC||Yes||$250||$500||No||47%||Yes||Yes||Yes||30.45%|
|46||Maryland||No minimum sentence||5 days||None Offense||5 years||90 days||No||1st conviction / BAC .08||12 months||above 0 BAC||Yes||$0||$0||Yes||51%||Yes||Yes||No||30.00%|
|47||Idaho||No minimum sentence||10 days||Third Offense||10 years||90 days||No||No||12 months||above 0.2 BAC||No||$0||$0||Yes||43%||Yes||No||No||29.55%|
|47||North Dakota||No minimum sentence||10 days||Fourth Offense||7 years||91 days||No||No||1.1 months||above 0.18 BAC||Yes||$500||$1500||Yes||33%||Yes||Yes||Yes||29.55%|
|49||Ohio***||3 days||10 days||Fourth Offense||6 years||90 days||No||2nd conviction||1.1 months||above 0.17 BAC||No||$375||$525||Yes||31%||Yes||Yes||No||28.64%|
|50||District of Columbia||No minimum sentence||No minimum sentence||None Offense||15 years||90 days||No||No||0 months||above 0.2 BAC||No||$0||$2500||No||30%||Yes||Yes||No||22.27%|
|51||South Dakota||No minimum sentence||No minimum sentence||Third Offense||10 years||30 days||No||No||0 months||above 0.17 BAC||No||$0||$0||Yes||27%||No||Yes||Yes||20.45%|
* These states offer Pre-Trial Diversion programs for first time offenders. The programs are often in the form of alcohol treatment/rehabilitation and are offered as an alternative to prosecution, eligibility may vary.
** In these states a judge can waive minimum sentence at his discretion.
*** Minimum sentences can be reduced or waived by community service or drug / alcohol treatment / education.
Ask The Experts: Combating Impaired Driving
The incidence of drunk driving has declined dramatically in the last three decades, but impaired drivers are still responsible for 10,000 deaths annually. Clearly more can be done to protect Americans from irresponsible motorists.
To find out how, we turned to panel of legal experts to help us understand the best options for keeping impaired drivers off the roads.
- What are the major factors that are responsible for the decline in drunk driving fatalities since the 1980s?
- What is the most effective policy that states should consider to reduce drunk driving rates further?
- What steps can individuals take to prevent friends and loved ones from driving drunk?
- Four states and D.C. have legalized the use of marijuana. Does marijuana impair driving, and how can law enforcement test for it?
There have been a great many advancements in transportation safety that have been made since the 1980s that have contributed to the decline in motor vehicle collisions. Car manufactures have implemented numerous safety features into vehicles, engineers have redesigned infrastructure to make it more functional for all road users, and legislation has been updated to try and deter risky driving behavior. All of these positive changes could, hopefully, result in decline in all fatalities, including DUI related. Increased awareness/education, updated legislation and enforcement efforts from the police are all factors that are correlated with reducing crash fatalities. More research is now available regarding the effects of alcohol on motorist’s ability to drive.
In 1980, if someone was pulled over and found to be under the influence, the officer may have taken the keys and requested the person “sleep it off” before driving again. This would not be the case today, however. Now that police and the public are more informed about the dangers of drunk driving and legislation has changed to better support law enforcement in their efforts, great strides have been made.
What is the most effective policy that states should consider to reduce drunk driving rates further?
I don’t know that there is one policy that is the most effective, it’s more so multiple variables, such as legislation, enforcement and education, working in conjunction to reduce impaired driving. However, in my opinion, public education and enforcement can only do so much to change driver behavior. Legislation has to follow through on these cases and ensure the offenders are punished accordingly. Society has been conditioned for a long time under the ideology that driving drunk is acceptable. To change that behavior, the consequences that arise when the behavior is exhibited must be swift and consistent. The change in legislation in Connecticut in 2015 requiring first time DUI offenders to install an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicles is a great example of this and has been effective in other states, according to recent research (Ullman, 2016). Now these offenders, who may be repeat offenders but haven’t been caught before, know they won’t be getting a slap on the wrist.
What steps can individuals take to prevent friends and loved ones from driving drunk?
Be a good example! People tend to adopt similar practices and behaviors of their peer groups simply because they are with them the majority of the time (this is especially true with younger adults and teens). Also, we usually align ourselves with likeminded individuals to begin with. If a person demonstrates safe driving practices, such as not driving impaired and always designating a sober driver when they do drink, their friends and family will be encouraged to do the same. Also, make sure to hold each other and yourself accountable for your behavior.
Four states and D.C. have legalized the use of marijuana. Does marijuana impair driving, and how can law enforcement test for it?
Absolutely, the THC in marijuana does have an impact on a motorist’s ability to safely operate their vehicle. Currently, in Connecticut we are experiencing a lot of incidents of poly-drug use, where motorists have several different drugs and/or alcohol in their system at the same time or instances of individuals believing they have received marijuana but it has been laced with another drug, such as PCP. If you don’t even know what drugs you are ingesting, how can you possibly know how they will affect you and your driving ability? In Connecticut, we have our Drug Recognition Experts among our law enforcement who are specifically trained to perform comprehensive physiological testing on motorists who are suspected of driving while impaired. Unfortunately, legislation has yet to really catch up with the legalization of marijuana. There is no national standard for determining impairment of drugs in motorists; many of the specifics and clarification in the law that are in place to determine alcohol impairment do not yet exist for marijuana impairment.
Source: Ullman, D.F. (2016). Locked not loaded: First time offenders and state ignition interlock programs. International Review of Law and Economics, 45, p. 1-13.
- Social norms have changed considerably;
- Policies – state and federal including those focused on adolescent and young adult drivers;
- Vehicle engineering – massive improvements in safety and driver/occupant protection technologies – this continues to improve;
- Public education;
- Improvements in emergency medical services and emergency/trauma care systems.
There are several policies that have been very effective. There is a great resource that is regularly published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the US-DOT. These are evidence based countermeasures that do include policy components.
What steps can individuals take to prevent friends and loved ones from driving drunk?
Within your family and social groups, make it socially unacceptable to drink and drive (not even one drink is safe to get behind the wheel) and be vocal about it with family and friends in a caring and loving manner.
If you know you are going to drink, don’t drive. Use a car device. Recently, MADD and Uber have partnered and reported on some of their results and the implications this could have/is having on impaired driving.