DUI Charges & Penalties by State

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Driving with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is illegal in all 50 states. DUI, or driving under the influence, includes alcohol and any type of intoxicant or narcotic that can impair your physical abilities and judgement. This also includes prescription drugs. A driver can theoretically register a BAC of .00 percent and still get a DUI, if the police officer has probable cause to stop the vehicle.

When you drive on public roads, you have given your implied consent to be tested to see what the alcohol or drug content of your blood is. These tests are administered at the request of a police officer, and he or she must have reasonable grounds to think that you have being driving under the influence.

Note that DUI offenses are charged at the state level, and each state has its own specific DUI laws.

YouTube Special Feature

DUI Attorney Michael Worgul from  Pittsburgh PA talks about the DUI charge in length.

DUI Laws

Each state has different definitions of what DUI is, and some states call the offense by another name. Some of the common alternative names for DUI under state laws are:

  • DWI – driving while intoxicated
  • OUI – operating under the influence
  • OWI – operating while under the influence
  • DWAI – driving while ability impaired
  • OUIL – operating under the influence of liquor
  • OMVI – operating a motor vehicle
  • OMVWI – operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated
  • OWUI – operating while under the influence

All states have what is called a ‘per se’ DUI law, which makes it an offense in and of itself to drive with a BAC of .08 or above. This means that if the driver blows a .08, he is presumed to be drunk, regardless if the driver shows any signs of being intoxicated. This is an arrestable offense regardless of any other violations, injuries or accidents.

All states also have an implied consent law. This means that because you have a driver’s license, you have consented to submitting to an alcohol breath test or a blood alcohol test, if you are asked to by police. If you refuse, state laws usually find that you will face more severe consequences than if you consent.

Implied consent laws do differ by state. Also, implied consent applies in the state in which you were arrested and not where you got your license.

DUI Crimes and Charges

DUIs fall into one of two categories:

  • Misdemeanor: This is common for a first time DUI offender who did not injure or kill another person.
  • Felony: For more serious DUIs, the driver can be charged with a felony. This usually occurs if the driver kills or injures someone else while drunk. You also can be charged with felony DUI if you have a BAC of well over the legal limit. If you have prior DUIs, a subsequent DUI can be charged as a felony and you could go to jail for years. This can occur even if you did not injure anyone.

To prove that you are guilty of a DUI, the state must prove that you drove the vehicle, and that alcohol was present in your blood at a BAC of .08% or higher. In some states, you can be found guilty of DUI even if you are simply sitting in your vehicle with the engine off. As long as you have a BAC of .08% or higher, you still can be charged.

DUI Punishment

Jail

In all US states, a first offense DUI is a misdemeanor and you can receive six months in jail. Your jail time can be enhanced in certain circumstances. For instance, some states require stricter punishments for a DUI offender with a BAC of 0.15% or higher. This is more than double to legal limit.

Some states also mandate minimum jail sentences for a first offense, which could range from a few days to a few weeks. Subsequent offenses can lead to a jail sentence of months or even years.

For a DUI that is classified as a felony, jail terms of several years are common.

Fines

Courts in the various states can impose fines for DUI from $500 to $2000.

Driver’s License Suspension

You are likely to have your driver’s license suspended; in many states, a first time offender loses their license for 90 days. A second offense equals a one year suspension, and third can mean a three year suspension.

Some states also may require the convicted drunk driver to attend an alcohol teaching and prevention program, or require him to do community service. In TX, for example, a minor convicted of DUI can receive the regular DUI punishments but also must perform community service.

DUI Sentencing Guidelines

Generally, first time DUI offenders can receive six months in jail, although some of that term could be suspended. Some states do have a minimum jail time for first time offenders. In CA, there is a 48 hour minimum, mandatory jail time. In AZ, the minimum is 10 days, but 9 of them can be suspended.

For a second or third misdemeanor offense, you can be sent to jail for six months to a year. For felony DUI where there is serious injury or loss of life, jail terms of three years or more are common.

DUI Statute of Limitations

Generally, the statute of limitations for misdemeanor DUI is 18 months from the date of the offense.

DUI Cases

DUI cases are prosecuted under the state laws where the offense occurred, but some DUI offenses have had national implications:

  • Bell v Burson: For years, the US government considered having a driver’s license a privilege and not a right, and there were few remedies for a driver who wanted to contest a license suspension. The US Supreme Court recognized that having a driver’s license can be essential for one’s job or career. Thus, driver’s licenses can no longer be taken away without procedural due process as laid out in the 14th Amendment.
  • Berkemer v. McCarty: The Supreme Court was called upon in this case to apply Miranda to a DUI case. When is the suspect actually in custody, for the purpose of determining when the Miranda warning has to be given before the suspect is questioned? Miranda request that the warning has to be given when the suspect is in custody. However, the USSC did not provide clear guidance regarding when a DUI suspect is in custody.

DUI Quick Links & References

DUI Laws By State

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) refers to operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or other drugs that impair a person’s ability to drive. The specifics and penalties for DUI vary significantly by state:

AlabamaHawaiiMassachusettsNew MexicoSouth Dakota
AlaskaIdahoMichiganNew YorkTennessee
ArizonaIllinoisMinnesotaNorth CarolinaTexas
ArkansasIndianaMississippiNorth DakotaUtah
CaliforniaIowaMissouriOhioVermont
ColoradoKansasMontanaOklahomaVirginia
ConnecticutKentuckyNebraskaOregonWashington
DelawareLouisianaNevadaPennsylvaniaWest Virginia
FloridaMaineNew HampshireRhode IslandWisconsin
GeorgiaMarylandNew JerseySouth CarolinaWyoming

Alabama

Under Code of Alabama Section 32-5A-191:

  • DUI is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $2,100 for the first offense.

Alaska

Under Alaska Stat. Section 28.35.030:

  • DUI results in a minimum of 72 hours in jail and a fine of up to $1,500 for the first offense.

Arizona

Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-1381:

  • DUI can lead to at least 10 days in jail and a minimum fine of $1,250 for first-time offenders.

Arkansas

Under Arkansas Code Section 5-65-103:

  • A first offense DUI is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines ranging from $150 to $1,000.

California

Under California Vehicle Code 23152:

  • Penalties for DUI include up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000 for the first offense.

Colorado

Under Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-1301:

  • DUI carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and fines from $600 to $1,000 for first-time offenders.

Connecticut

Under Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-227a:

  • A first DUI offense can result in up to 6 months in jail with fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.

Delaware

Under Title 21 Delaware Code Section 4177:

  • DUI offenses can lead to a minimum of 60 days in jail and fines up to $1,500 for first-time offenders.

Florida

Under Florida Statutes Section 316.193:

  • DUI offenses are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for the first conviction.

Georgia

Under Georgia Code Section 40-6-391:

  • A DUI conviction can result in a minimum of 24 hours in jail and a $300 minimum fine, up to $1,000 for first offenders.

Hawaii

Under Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 291E-61:

  • DUI can result in 48 hours to 5 days in jail and a fine of $150 to $1,000 for the first offense.

Idaho

Under Idaho Code Section 18-8004:

  • Penalties for a first DUI include up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Illinois

Under Illinois Compiled Statutes 625 ILCS 5/11-501:

  • A first DUI offense is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $2,500.

Indiana

Under Indiana Code Section 9-30-5-1:

  • DUI offenses can lead to up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 for first-time offenders.

Iowa

Under Iowa Code Section 321J.2:

  • A first DUI offense may result in up to 1 year in jail and a fine ranging from $625 to $1,250.

Kansas

Under Kansas Statutes Section 8-1567:

  • First-time DUI offenders can face 48 hours to 6 months in jail and fines of $750 to $1,000.

Kentucky

Under Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 189A.010:

  • DUI is punishable by 2 to 30 days in jail and a fine of $200 to $500 for the first offense.

Louisiana

Under Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 14:98:

  • A first offense DUI can result in 10 days to 6 months in jail and a fine of $300 to $1,000.

Maine

Under Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A, Section 2411:

  • Penalties for a first DUI include a minimum of 48 hours in jail and a $500 fine.

Maryland

Under Maryland Transportation Code Ann. § 21-902:

  • A first-time DUI offender can face up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

Massachusetts

Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 24:

  • DUI offenses can result in up to 2 1/2 years in jail and fines from $500 to $5,000 for the first offense.

Michigan

Under Michigan Vehicle Code 257.625:

  • A first DUI offense can lead to up to 93 days in jail, a fine of $100 to $500, and up to 360 hours of community service.

Minnesota

Under Minnesota Statutes Section 169A.20:

  • Penalties for a first DUI include up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

Mississippi

Under Mississippi Code Section 63-11-30:

  • A first offense DUI is punishable by up to 48 hours in jail and a fine from $250 to $1,000.

Missouri

Under Missouri Revised Statutes Section 577.010:

  • DUI can result in up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500 for first-time offenders.

Montana

Under Montana Code Annotated Section 61-8-401:

  • The first DUI offense can result in up to 6 months in jail and $600 to $1,000 in fines.

Nebraska

Under Nebraska Revised Statutes Section 60-6,196:

  • A first offense DUI is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Nevada

Under Nevada Revised Statutes 484C.400:

  • Penalties for a first DUI include 2 days to 6 months in jail, 24 to 96 hours of community service, and a fine of $400 to $1,000.

New Hampshire

Under New Hampshire Revised Statutes Section 265-A:18:

  • A first DUI can lead to a minimum of a $500 fine and up to 2 years of license revocation.

New Jersey

Under New Jersey Statutes Section 39:4-50:

  • DUI offenses result in up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250 to $500 for the first offense.

New Mexico

Under New Mexico Statutes Section 66-8-102:

  • A first DUI offense includes up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $500.

New York

Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192:

  • First offense DUI can result in up to 1 year in jail, a fine of $500 to $1,000, and a minimum 6-month license revocation.

North Carolina

Under North Carolina General Statutes Section 20-138.1:

  • DUI carries a minimum penalty of 24 hours in jail, a fine of at least $200, and license revocation for a first offense.

North Dakota

Under North Dakota Century Code Section 39-08-01:

  • A first DUI offense can include up to 2 days in jail, a $750 fine, and at least a 91-day license suspension.

Ohio

Under Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19:

  • DUI penalties include at least 3 days in jail or a driver’s intervention program, and fines ranging from $375 to $1,075 for first-time offenders.

Oklahoma

Under Oklahoma Statutes Title 47, Section 11-902:

  • A first DUI offense is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and 180 days of license revocation.

Oregon

Under Oregon Revised Statutes Section 813.010:

  • DUI can result in 48 hours to 1 year in jail, fines of $1,000 to $6,250, and a 1-year license suspension for the first conviction.

Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Section 3802:

  • Penalties for a first DUI can include 6 months probation, a $300 fine, and mandatory attendance at an alcohol highway safety school.

Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island General Laws Section 31-27-2:

  • A first-time DUI offense can lead to up to 1 year in jail, fines of $100 to $500, and a license suspension of 2 to 18 months.

South Carolina

Under South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2930:

  • A first DUI offense can result in 48 hours to 30 days in jail, a $400 fine, and 6 months license suspension.

South Dakota

Under South Dakota Codified Laws 32-23-1:

  • DUI offenses can incur at least 2 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and license revocation for 30 days to 1 year for first offenders.

Tennessee

Under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 55-10-401:

  • First offense DUI includes 48 hours to 11 months in jail, a fine of $350 to $1,500, and 1-year license revocation.

Texas

Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04:

  • A first DUI offense can lead to 3 to 180 days in jail, a fine up to $2,000, and license suspension for up to a year.

Utah

Under Utah Code Section 41-6a-502:

  • DUI penalties include 2 days to 180 days in jail, a minimum fine of $700, and license suspension for 120 days for first-time offenders.

Vermont

Under Vermont Statutes Title 23, Section 1201:

  • Penalties for a first DUI include up to 2 years in jail, fines up to $750, and at least a 90-day license suspension.

Virginia

Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-266:

  • A first DUI offense is punishable by a minimum fine of $250 and license revocation for 1 year.

Washington

Under Revised Code of Washington Section 46.61.502:

  • A first DUI can result in 1 to 364 days in jail, a $350 to $5,000 fine, and license suspension from 90 days to 1 year.

West Virginia

Under West Virginia Code Section 17C-5-2:

  • Penalties for a first DUI include up to 6 months in jail, a fine of $100 to $500, and a 6-month license suspension.

Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin Statutes Section 346.63:

  • A first-time DUI offender faces a fine of $150 to $300 and a 6 to 9-month license suspension.

Wyoming

Under Wyoming Statutes Section 31-5-233:

  • First DUI offenses can result in up to 6 months in jail, a fine of $750, and a 90-day license suspension.