Everyone makes mistakes, and driving under the influence may be one of the most common. But its a dangerous misdeed that can put others’ lives as well as your own in jeopardy.
So this is a serious problem, and states are understandably cracking down on it. Surveys have indicated the most strict and lenient states for DUI infractions.
Arizona Tops the Charts for Strictness
People who drink and drive are better off avoiding Arizona roads, according to a recent WalletHub study. The penalties there are reportedly the strictest in the nation.
Research shows that first-time offenders who record a blood alcohol level of .08 (the drinking-and-driving threshold) or above will receive 10 days in jail and a fine that could be a minimum of $750.
If that’s not enough, first-time offenders also receive an ignition interlock device thats installed on their personal vehicles for a full year following the incident. This may feel extreme to residents of many other states that only write a ticket and assess a fine for a first offense.
It gets much worse in Arizona if there are repeat offenses. If someone is caught drinking and driving for a second time, he or she will get 90 days of jail time and a minimum $1,750 fine. The third incident will have the perpetrator convicted as a felon.
The laws are strict in Arizona, and law enforcement officers there make a serious effort to enforce them. WalletHub showed that Highway Safety patrol had 23,000 DUI arrests statewide in 2014, which is significant.
In addition, the average blood alcohol content (BAC) for offenders in Arizona in 2014 was 0.152, which is almost twice the legal limit for driving. So it’s no wonder that Arizona law enforcement seek to crack down, and the state government estimates the new rules will reduce the rate of repeat arrests for DUI offenses by 67 percent.
The Top 10 States for Strict DUI Rules
The WalletHub study looked at 15 different metrics including the penal systems of all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Among the items measured were fines, minimum jail time, and ignition interlock device mandates.
The resulting percentages showed the level of strictness for each state. The 10 states that scored the highest for severe penalties are:
- Arizona 84.09%
- Georgia 70.45%
- Alaska 65.00%
- Oklahoma 62.27%
- Nebraska 61.82%
- Kansas 59.55%
- Connecticut 59.09%
- Utah 58.64%
- West Virginia 58.18%
- Texas 55.00%
The 10 States with the Most Relaxed Penalties
Some states don’t make DUI arrests a high priority and have fairly relaxed penalties. The most lenient states are:
- Idaho 33.18%
- Michigan 32.73%
- New Jersey 32.27%
- Maryland 31.82%
- Vermont 30.00%
- Ohio 28.64%
- Pennsylvania 27.27%
- North Dakota 25.91%
- District of Columbia 22.27%
- South Dakota 18.46%
South Dakota placed last in the WalletHub study. It calls for no mandatory jail time or license suspension for a first-time offense. There’s only a small fine, but the penalties increase for subsequent offenses.
The study looked at many different metrics, but the entire story isn’t clear from these findings. It could be that some of these states have more lenient policies because they have fewer drunk driving incidents and repeat offenders.