Alcohol impairs bodily functions critical to the performing of everyday functions. It is a depressant which affects the brain in such a way as to disrupt vital control processes associated with behavior and judgment. When consumed in excess, alcohol weakens those mental skills required for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.
Drivers operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol put society at risk. In the United States alone, one person is killed every hour by somebody who should have chosen some other means of getting to their destination. Every state in the U.S. including the District of Columbia has laws on their books to protect their citizens from the consequences of alcohol-impaired drivers. Such laws make it a crime to drive when the amount of alcohol in the blood is above some proscribed level. Drivers who violate these laws face hefty fines and sanctions that include suspension or revocation of their driving privileges. Although suspension and revocation commonly follow a criminal conviction, many states enforce a policy of administrative suspension which empowers the state to impose licensure restrictions on drivers who fail or refuse to take certain chemical tests.
States Imposing the Harshest DUI Penalties
Driving while intoxicated is a bad idea no matter where you are, but some jurisdictions are particularly unsympathetic to folks who drink while behind the wheel. The state with the strictest DUI laws is likely Arizona. There, first-time offenders caught on the streets of Phoenix with an unacceptably high blood alcohol level will be required to install an ignition interlock system on their car at their own expense upon conviction. In addition, Arizona has an “extreme” classification reserved for driver’s that have blood alcohol readings of 0.20 percent or higher. The penalty for violating this statute is a mandatory minimum of 45 days in jail plus fines with no exceptions.
Like Arizona, the state of Georgia takes drunk driving very seriously. In Georgia, you will lose your driving privileges for one year automatically upon a first-time conviction. The state may also mandate the installation of an ignition interlock system on your car as well. There is also the possibility of jail time and/or community service for you if caught driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of Georgia.
The distinction for the state with the most expensive monetary penalties for a DUI conviction would likely go to Washington State. In addition to the one year in jail that one faces for being convicted of a DUI in Seattle or anywhere else in Washington, convicted offenders pay as much as $5000 in fines and court costs in that state. The simple act of getting pulled over for DUI in Washington can result in the loss of driver’s license for 90 days.
In Texas first-time DUI offenders are treated to a one-year suspension of licensure plus fees of $2000 per year for three years upon conviction for DUI. That pleasure trip to Austin would be significantly less pleasurable if a driver knew he faced a possible 180 day jail term for drinking behind the wheel in Texas. In addition to that, auto insurance firms in The Lone Star State have their own way of discouraging drunk driving — they impose hefty fees and surcharges on those caught and convicted of drinking too much while driving the long and dusty highways.
Certain states have multiple allowable levels of blood alcohol content to differentiate between different categories of offenders. Somebody driving in California from Los Angeles to Anaheim or other points south in Orange County or elsewhere in California would be considered in violation of the law with a tested blood alcohol level of just 0.01 percent if the driver were under the age of 21, or if they were on probation, or if they had previous DUI convictions. The legal blood alcohol content for commercial vehicle operators is just 0.04 percent, significantly below the general 0.08 percent limit applicable to the average citizen.
Data collected by advocacy groups representing the interest of alcohol-related auto accident victims suggest that at any given moment we all share the roads with a million or more people that have three or more DUI convictions. In this nation, one out of every three traffic fatalities involves an alcohol-impaired driver. This is the reason why so many states impose such harsh penalties for drinking while driving. Some states such as Arizona will only permit offenders to operate a vehicle if it is equipped with special technology that analyzes a driver’s breath and disables the ignition system if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. In about half of the states in the U.S. vehicles owned by repeat offenders are subject to forfeiture upon a subsequent DUI conviction.
Folks charged with a DUI face severe penalties that could include mandatory jail time if convicted. Monetary penalties for first time offenses can reach into the thousands. If you or anyone close to you has been charged with a DUI, it is important to know that the accused needs to obtain all the facts concerning their status and rights under the law as well as the extent of their exposure to fines and penalties if convicted. The advice and counsel that they need can only come from a competent DUI lawyer. In such situations the very first step is to reach out and speak with a local and professional DUI lawyer in order to to obtain a proper evaluation of their case and circumstances.