Penalties for driving under the influence can be costly in any state – but some will leave you hurting far more than others. Find out which DUI laws are the harshest in the U.S.
Having a good time is one thing, but taking that good time on the road…not a good idea.
Fines, jail time, suspended or revoked license—do you know what you’re TRULY risking if you drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol? While the laws may vary by state, one thing all 50 agree upon is the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit. No matter where you’re driving, if you’re pulled over with a BAC of .08% or higher, you’ll be in big trouble. And there’s no acceptable BAC limit if you’re under 21 years of age.
Here’s a hit list of the toughest DUI laws across the country.
Toughest On First Time Offenders: Arizona
All 50 states have incorporated ignition interlock devices (or IIDs) into DUI sentencing on some level, mostly for repeat or severe offenders. But Arizona was the first state to implement mandatory interlock device installation for a first offence. Following Arizona’s lead, 16 states have made interlock devices mandatory or highly-encouraged for all offenses.
With use of this device required for 12 months, plus a laundry list of fees, mandatory jail time, and more, Arizona tops the charts as the state with the toughest DUI consequences on first-time offenders.
Here’s a breakdown of what a DUI can cost you in Arizona:
- $250 fine
- $200 state surcharge
- $500 prison construction fine
- $500 DUI assessment charge
The installation of the IID costs around $50 to $200, and it could be more if you have a luxury vehicle. Plus you’ll have to pay for the monthly rental which can range from $50 – $100 plus tax! Maintenance and data fees are also your responsibility.
You’ll also be required to take and pay for an alcohol education course. Oh… and don’t forget your mandatory community service.
One more fun Arizona fact: by law, all licensed drivers automatically give consent to a field sobriety test. If you get pulled over for suspicion of DUI and you refuse a test, you’ll lose your license for a year.
Highest Fines for DUI: Washington
The award for the most expensive DUI conviction goes to Washington state. Not only are you risking 1 year in jail, but you’ll also pay upwards of $5000 in fines. Washington also requires an IID, hiking your fees even higher. Oh – and you’ll lose your license for 90 days just for getting pulled over.
Other states with high fees include Massachusetts, where you could pay $500-$5000, and North Carolina, where you’ll shell out up to $4000.
Most Jail Time: Massachusetts
All 50 states require some jail time for a DUI conviction, but the award for the most jail time goes to Massachusetts. You could have your license suspended for one year and face up to 2 years in jail!
Longest Loss of License: Ohio
Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee are the only states where your driver’s license won’t be suspended. While Virginia has the shortest mandatory suspension time of 7 days, most states range from 90 days to 6 months without your driving privileges. But getting convicted of a DUI in Ohio could cost you your license for up to 3 years.
These are just a few of the most severe DUI consequences. Keep in mind that there are other expenses and losses such as attorney fees, loss of employment, defensive driving or alcohol treatment course fees, raised insurance premiums… the list goes on. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the safety risks to you or others
So next time, take a cab. It’s not worth it.