State Law Chart for DWI DUI Penalties

At present, a driver whose blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) is 0.08% or higher is guilty of a traffic offense for DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). Virtually all states have zero tolerance laws for DUI/DWI offenses committed by those below the state legal drinking age, which reduces the required BAC level to at or near zero. Below is a state chart defining the penalties and punishments for drunk driving convictions. It will also provide a brief explanation of what types of punishments are generally set forth by law.

Penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction

In general, DUI/DWI can result in large fines, jail or prison, probation or community service, as well as suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. As expected, repeat offenders are treated more harshly than first-time DUI/DWI offenders.

Administrative License Revocation (ALR)

The majority of states have enacted Administrative License Revocation (ALR) laws which allows for an immediate seizure of a vehicle and driver’s license should the operator fail or refuse to take a “field test” using a breathalyzer or other method.

Habitual Violators

Many states provide for felony penalties for repeat offenders such as the “three strikes law” for three DUI convictions. Once convicted of a habitual defender law, the operator loses many civil rights such as the ability to own weapons, to vote, and loss of driving privileges for a significant duration. Some offenders are permitted to go to “DUI school” to rehabilitate themselves and drive while their license is suspended.

Ignition Interlock Systems

Most states have instituted an ignition interlock system as alternatives to complete suspensions of driving privileges for DUI or DWI convictions. A small device is installed into the convicted operator’s vehicle which requires the driver to blow into the device in order for the ignition to fire and start the car. If the blood alcohol level of the driver is at least .02-.04, the ignition will fail to start the car. These systems are frequently used for those offenders who stand to be rehabilitated but need to drive in order to get to work or for other basic necessities.

Vehicle Forfeiture

Habitual offenders may submit themselves to a forfeiture of their vehicles and a court may order the sale of the operator’s vehicle, even if leased. The proceeds of the sale of the vehicle will first go towards pay secured interests with the remainder to satisfy others.


Conviction, Punishment and Vehicle Forfeiture, State Law Chart

State ALR Suspension Drive while suspended Interlock option Vehicle forfeiture
Alabama 90 days no no no
Alaska 90 days after 30 days1 yes yes
Arizona 90 days after 30 days1 yes yes
Arkansas 120 days yes1 yes yes
California 4 months after 30 days1 yes yes
Colorado 3 months yes1 yes no
Connecticut 90 days yes1 yes no
Delaware 3 months no yes no
D.C. 2-90 days yes1 yes no
Florida 6 months after 30 days1 yes yes
Georgia 1 year yes1 yes yes
Hawaii 3 months after 30 days1 yes no
Idaho 90 days after 30 days1 yes no
Illinois 3 months after 30 days1 yes yes
Indiana 180 days after 30 days1 yes yes
Iowa 180 days after 90 days1 yes no
Kansas 30 days no yes no
Kentucky no not applicable yes yes
Louisiana 90 days after 30 days1 yes yes
Maine 90 days yes1 yes yes
Maryland 45 days yes1 yes no
Massachusetts 90 days no yes yes
Michigan no not applicable yes yes
Minnesota 90 days after 15 days1 yes yes
Mississippi 90 days no yes yes
Missouri 30 days no yes yes
Montana no not applicable yes yes
Nebraska 90 days after 30 days1 yes no
Nevada 90 days after 45 days1 yes no
New Hampshire 6 months no yes no
New Jersey no not applicable yes no
New Mexico 90 days after 30 days1 yes no
New York variable2 yes1 yes yes
North Carolina 30 days after 10 days1 yes yes
North Dakota 91 days after 30 days1 yes yes
Ohio 90 days after 15 days1 yes yes
Oklahoma 180 days yes1 yes yes
Oregon 90 days after 30 days1 yes yes
Pennsylvania no not applicable yes yes
Rhode Island no not applicable yes yes
South Carolina no not applicable yes yes
South Dakota no not applicable no no
Tennessee no not applicable yes yes
Texas 90 days yes1 yes yes
Utah 90 days no yes no
Vermont 90 days no no yes
Virginia 7 days no yes yes
Washington 90 days after 30 days1 yes yes
West Virginia 6 months after 30 days 1 yes no
Wisconsin 6 months yes1 yes yes
Wyoming 90 days yes1 yes no

Notes:

1: Drivers usually require demonstration of a special hardship to justify restoration of driving privileges during suspension which, if granted, are often restricted.

2: In New York, administrative license suspension lasts until prosecution is completed.

Michael M Wechsler, Esq.

Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and former SVP of Zedge.net. He has published hundreds of articles online covering a variety of legal topics and regularly provides free legal advice at The Law Forums.

Michael M Wechsler, Esq. – has written posts on TheLaw.com Guide.