Drinking and driving is something that is treated very differently on a state by state basis. There are a few things that remain relatively consistent but there are widely different factors which play into the punishments associated with this offense in each state. We are going to provide some statistics below and an easy to navigate chart but keep in mind that this is not representative of the entirely of the laws and is not updated regularly. For additional information, call Arja Shah Law today for a consultation of your case.
Drunk Driving Laws
All states define driving with a blood alcohol concentration
(BAC) at or above 0.08 percent as a crime, but specific laws and
penalties vary substantially from state to state.
42 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands
have administrative license suspension (ALS) on the first offense. ALS
allows law enforcement to confiscate a driver’s license for a period of
time if he fails a chemical test. Most of these states allow limited
driving privileges (such as to/from work).
All states have some type of ignition interlock law,
in which judges require all or some convicted drunk drivers to install
interlocks in their cars to analyze their breath and disable the engine
if alcohol is detected. 20 states* (and 4 California counties) have made ignition interlocks mandatory or highly incentivized for all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders.
*We defer to our State Highway Safety Office members’ interpretation of the law. Some groups may have a higher count.
Federal law mandates that states adopt open container and repeat offender
laws meeting specific requirements. Otherwise, a portion of the state’s
surface transportation funding is transferred to the state DOT or State
Highway Safety Office.
Alcohol exclusion laws allow insurance companies to deny payment
for treatment of drunk drivers’ injuries, but they have limited
doctors’ abilities to diagnose alcohol problems and recommend treatment.
Some states have repealed such laws.
NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data
on drunk driving laws other than what is presented here. For more
information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.
State Inc. Penalty for High BAC Admin. License Susp. on
Limited Driving Privileges During Susp. Ignition Interlocks Vehicle and License Plate Sanctions Alcohol Exclusion
Laws Limiting Treatment
*Meeting Federal Requirements Ala. .15 90 days Mandatory for repeat convictions Yes Yes Yes Alaska .15
(at judges’ disc.)
90 days After 30 days Mandatory for all convictions Vehicle impoundment Yes Ariz. .15 90 days After 30 days Mandatory for all convictions Immobilization or impoundment Yes Yes Ark. .15 6 months Yes Mandatory for all convictions Vehicle confiscation Yes Yes Calif. .15 4 months After 30 days Discretionary
Mandatory for all convictions in Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare and Sacramento counties (pilot project)
Impoundment, vehicle confiscation Yes Yes Colo. .17 3 months Yes Highly incentivized for all convictions Yes Yes Conn. .16 90 days Yes Mandatory for all convictions Yes Del. .16 3 months Mandatory for all convictions
Vehicle sanction and license plate impoundment Yes Yes D.C. .20 and .25 2-90 days or until disposition Yes Discretionary Yes Yes Fla. .20 6 months for DUI After 30 days Mandatory for high BAC (>.15) convictions Impoundment, vehicle forfeiture Yes Yes Yes 12 months for refusal After 90 days Ga. .15 1 year Yes Mandatory for repeat convictions Vehicle confiscation Yes Yes Yes Guam From .08 to .10 Discretionary Yes Yes Hawaii .15 3 months After 30 days Mandatory for all convictions Yes Yes Yes Idaho .20 90 days After 30 days Discretionary Yes Yes Yes Ill. .16 6 months After 30 days Mandatory for all convictions Impoundment, vehicle confiscation Yes Yes Ind. .15 180 days After 30 days Discretionary Vehicle confiscation Yes Yes Iowa .15 180 days After 30 days Discretionary Yes Yes Kan. .15 30 days Mandatory for all convictions Yes Yes Yes Ky. .18 30 – 120 days Yes Mandatory for high BAC (>.15) and repeat convictions
Impoundment Yes Yes Yes La. 1 .15 and .20 See footnote Mandatory for all convictions Vehicle confiscation Yes Maine .15 90 days Yes Highly incentivized for all convictions Vehicle confiscation Yes Yes
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