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Which States Have the Strictest Drunk Driving Laws?

Drunk driving is a serious offense in every state. However, states have a lot of freedom to decide what penalties they apply to this offense, and the laws vary widely. Some of them are relatively lenient, while others apply the harshest penalties they can.

Those who are convicted of drunk driving offenses can rarely expect to face just one type of penalty. The sentencing may include jail time, large fines, license suspensions and the installation of ignition interlock devices.

If you are in a state with stricter penalties, you should know what may be waiting for you if you are ever convicted of a DUI.


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The States with the Strictest Jail Sentences

Arizona and Georgia top the list for the strictest states when it comes to jail time. This is because they both have a 10-day minimum sentence for the first offense. If you are convicted of a DUI and don’t plea down, you may have to face mandatory jail time.

Few states have mandatory jail time for the first offense, but there are states that beat even Arizona and Georgia when it comes to the second offense. One of those is West Virginia—A state that has a 180-day minimum sentence for all second-time offenders. By comparison, even Arizona’s tough laws only require 90 days for the second conviction.


The States with the Strictest Fines

In most states, you can expect to pay a lot for a DUI, even if you don’t get jail time. The fine may be only a small number on paper (such as $250 in Arizona), but that’s only a tiny part of what you need to pay. Most states also have state surcharges, prison construction fees, and DUI assessment charges.

That doesn’t even include the fees that come with installing an ignition interlock device, which is required for most first-time convictions. It can cost as much as $200 to have the device installed, which is followed by a monthly maintenance fee and monthly data fees.

Put together, Arizona charges around $2000 when all taxes and fees are counted, plus new payments of about $100 every month until the interlock device can be removed. Most states aren’t far behind.


The States with the Strictest Driving Restrictions

In addition to jail time and fines, you can expect to have driving privileges limited after your first drunk driving offense.

If you are allowed to keep your license, the most notable restriction will be the installation of an interlock device on your car. In addition to the charges mentioned earlier, the device will stop you from using your car unless you take a breathalyzer test for at least a year.

Of course, things can get a lot worse than just a restriction. You could be stripped of your license entirely and forced to go without a vehicle.

Ohio is the state with the strictest laws on license restrictions. If you are convicted of a DUI in Ohio, you could lose your license for up to 3 years. Compare this to some of the other top states, such as Texas and Georgia, both of whom only require a year.

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