Every state has their own drunk driving laws, and many of those laws differ widely. It is, therefore, important for citizens to know those laws, especially if they are facing drunk driving, or DUI, charges. The harsher the penalties, the more important it is to fight those charges if the defendant is not guilty or if the evidence is unclear. However, no matter what the specific laws are in any given state, nearly every state has increased the penalties even for first offenses, as well as for repeat convictions, in hopes of discouraging drivers from practicing this behavior and making our roads more dangerous for themselves and others.

State Drunk Driving Laws

There are a number of common categories of penalties that all states levy against those found guilty of drunk driving, although the degree of the penalty may vary a great deal. Nearly every state requires a driver’s license suspension for even a first DUI conviction. Those suspensions range from 2 days to 1 year in the various states. Many states, but not all, also allow limited driving privileges for those under suspension, although those opportunities differ in that some states allow limited driving privileges:

  • After 30 days
  • Others after 45 days
  • Still others only with an ignition interlock device
  • And a few only at the discretion of the court

As many as 43 states impose increased penalties for a high blood alcohol content (BAC). While all states consider a driver intoxicated with a BAC of .08% or higher, states vary in what they penalize as a high BAC level, ranging from .15% to .20%.

Open container laws are common, penalizing drivers for having an open container of alcohol in the car. Those laws are found in 43 states, although some of those regulations do not meet federal standards. Federal standards establish increased penalties for repeat offenders, and 42 states are in compliance with those standards. The widest range in state laws relating to DUI offenses falls in the category of ignition interlock devices. Only 12 states require them for all DUI convictions. Another 10 states require them when the BAC was high (generally over .15%). Another 14 states require them for repeat offenders, and just 1 state requires them before a driver’s license can be reinstated.

Getting Legal Help with State Drunk Driving Laws

While the laws are quite different in some states from federal standards or the majority of statutes, all states are getting tougher on drunk drivers. It is important for those who drink and drive to know the penalties they may face and to be prepared to fight those charges or suffer the consequences. Anyone who does face a DUI charge and feels it is unjustified should contact a skilled DUI lawyer to help them employ the most effective means of fighting them and avoiding the difficult penalties.