States with Most DUIs and Strictest Drunk Driving Laws
Today, drunk driving laws vary greatly from state to state. Some states, like Utah and Arizona, lead the nation in tough drunk driving laws. Other states, like North Dakota and Montana, appear to have greater DUI problems, likely the result of more lenient DUI laws. Below, we’ve ranked states in several categories: most DUI offenders, most impaired drivers on the road, lowest BAC threshold, toughest jail time, and the number of accidents involving impaired drivers. We also looked at MADD’s annual ratings for the best and worst overall state laws. Click here to view our free downloadable infographic that illustrates these findings.
States With Most DUI Offenders
Nationwide, just over 2% of drivers have a DUI offense. North Dakota is the state with most DUIs; nearly 6% of licensed drivers have a prior DUI. Wyoming comes in at a close second. Looking at the top 10 states with most DUIs, there is a correlation between high DUI rates and low population. A lack of public transportation, taxis, and ridesharing services may contribute to higher DUI offenses.
State With the Most Impaired Drivers
The CDC reports that every month, 1.9% of drivers get behind the wheel while impaired. Drunk driving in Wisconsin is a problem, where the number of self-reported impaired drivers is 3.1%. Between 2003 and 2012, drunk drivers on Wisconsin roads led to 2,577 crashes.
State With the Lowest BAC Threshold
Utah has some of the toughest DUI laws, due in part to their low BAC threshold. In 2018, Utah was the first state to lower the BAC limit for a DUI offense from 0.08 to 0.05.
Likely as a result, Utah’s drunk driving fatality rate is a much lower 1.7 per 100,000 people as compared to other states. In contrast, North Dakota, the state with the most convicted drunk drivers, has a drunk driving fatality rate of 6.1 per 100,000 people.
State With Toughest Jail Time
A few states have no mandatory jail time for first time DUI convictions. That’s not the case in Minnesota, where your first DUI can land you in jail for 90 days. Second and third offenses could land you up to one year behind bars.
Accidents With Impaired Drivers
Impaired drivers play a role in fatalities in all states. Every 50 minutes, there’s an alcohol-related driving fatality in the U.S. And in Wyoming, a third of all driving deaths involved an impaired driver.
States With the Strictest Drunk Driving Laws
Each year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) takes a look at each of the 50 states’ and Washington D.C.’s drunk driving laws. In their 2019 Campaign Report, MADD rated each jurisdiction on the following criteria:
- Requiring ignition interlocks after a DUI conviction
- The use of sobriety checkpoints
- The immediate revocation of a driver’s license after a DUI arrest or breathalyzer refusal
- Child endangerment: additional penalties for having a child in the car
- Refusing a breathalyzer
MADD awarded each state either a half a star, one star, or no star for each of the five criteria. States ranked anywhere from 0.5 to 5.0. The average ranking was 3.16. Montana came in at the bottom, with only 0.50 stars. The state earned its half point for its child endangerment laws.
Arizona is the state with the harshest DUI laws and the only one to earn a perfect 5.0 star rating. Arizona’s tough laws include mandatory ignition interlock devices for all DUI convictions. Having a child in the vehicle when arrested for a DUI is also considered a felony in Arizona.
State Where Insurance Premiums Skyrocket After a DUI
Costs associated with a DUI go beyond fines. No matter where you live, you can count on your car insurance premiums increasing. On average, drivers in the U.S. can expect to see a 62% increase after a DUI conviction. However, if you live in North Carolina, you may be facing an astonishing 368% increase.
Ignition Interlock Devices
MADD recognizes that the use of ignition interlock devices is vital to keeping our roads safe. These devices prevent repeat offenders and keep impaired drivers off the road. To learn more about Draeger’s ignition interlock devices, please contact us.
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