Even with one sip of alcohol you know that your blood alcohol level is going to rise. And when you risk your life driving after a night of drinking, you not only risk getting into an accident and hurting other people along with yourself, but you’re also risking getting arrested and being severely punished by the law, depending on the state.
Every state looks at driving under the influence differently; some will just fine you, while others have a jail sentence, suspend your license, and require you to add an ignition interlock system into the your vehicle. This system requires you to perform a breathalyzer test and pass it before the car starts, if the driver fails then the car will not start.
No matter what state you are in you’re going to get some kind of penalty for drunk driving, but there are definitely states that will deliver severe penalties compared to others, even for first time offenders.
1. Georgia –The laws in Georgia aren’t very “peachy.” The state has the most toughest penalties and is known for immediately taking away your license for an entire year. Not only will they ban you from driving for the next 12 months, they’ll most likely require you to perform community service, pay a fine, complete a treatment program, add the interlock ignition system into your vehicle, and possibly sentence you to jail depending on the discretion of the judge.
2. Florida – The sunshine state won’t seem so bright the moment you get in trouble for drunk driving. Getting a DUI or DWI charge could mean facing substantial penalties, even for the first offense.
The possibility of facing up to 9 months in jail, fines up to $2,000, a suspended license for at least 180 days, along with community service and impounding your vehicle, are just a few of the penalties. If you commit a second offense within five years of your first, it is mandatory for you to spend at least 10 days in jail, compared to a mandatory 20 day sentence for your third if it’s within 10 years of the previous offenses.
3. Iowa – While they refer to a DUI as an OWI, which means operating while intoxicated, Iowa’s penalties are just as tough as the aforementioned states. So how about a required 2 days of minimum jail time, fines of up to $1,250 and a suspended license for 180 days, all for your first offense? After that there’s a minimum jail time of 7 days that could be extended up to 2 years, with fines over $6,000. It only gets worse from there.
4. Tennessee – Lose your license for an entire year, get fined up to $1,500 and face at least two days of jail time the first time you get charged. There have been cases where first time offenders have been sentenced up to 11 months in jail, as well as required to attend DUI school.
5. South Carolina – No driving for six months, a fine of up to $400, a minimum of 48 hours of jail time, or 2 days of community service, despite having a perfect record up until that point. After that the penalties obviously get worse; fines of over $5,000, minimum of five days in the slammer and a suspended license for a year. And lucky number three gets you over $6,000 worth of fines, a minimum of 2 months in jail and a license that’s suspended for two whole years. Don’t risk a fourth, or you’ll face a mandatory 7 year jail term.
Rounding out the top ten includes Indiana, New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Minnesota. Indiana and New Hampshire also have a requirement of a 6 month license suspension for first time offenders. Arizona is one of the states that requires the ignition interlock system to be installed within the driver’s vehicle and if you have a blood alcohol level of over .20% you’ll be sentenced to at least 45 days in jail, no matter if it’s your first offense or not. Nevada requires every third offense to equal a mandatory jail term of 7 years, while Minnesota charges you with a crime for refusing to take the breathalyzer test.
While our home state of Texas isn’t in the top 10 of states with the strictest DUI or DWI laws, it’s no stranger to tough penalties. If you get charged with drunk driving there’s a possibility of at least 3 days in jail, a suspended license for up to two years, fines reaching $2,000, all for the first offense.
No matter what state you’re in, the last thing you want to do is drink and drive. If you have recently been arrested for this offense, and you’re looking for a DWI lawyer to represent your case, please contact The Wilder Law Firm today.