U.S. States with Harsh DUI/DWI Laws

Law Firm Newswire



Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 25, 2015 – These days, DUI/DWI convictions are becoming more stringent, but there are eight states with very strict penalties.

“A DUI/DWI penalty is not much fun, no matter where you incur it,” points out Lakeland, Florida. criminal defense attorney Thomas C. Grajek. “However, there are some states that really take a dim view of drinking and driving and their DUI/DWI penalties are very harsh.”

The eight worst states to be convicted of drinking and driving are: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Georgia and New York.

Arizona does not mess around, even for a first time offender. They have hefty fines for driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08 and a driver must install an ignition interlock device. The rental device must be paid for, as well as monthly maintenance charges. Those caught driving with a BAC of .20 or higher, are referred to as super extreme and jailed for 45 days, a penalty that may not be suspended by a judge.

In California there are two different cases and two different entities that prevail – DMV and the court system. With DMV, the driver has ten days from date of arrest to ask for a hearing with DMV. If that does not happen, the driver’s license is automatically suspended. They may suspend a license for up to three years. The courts charge a drunk driver under two statutes: California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) & (b). Section A deals with whether the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Section B deals with the BAC.

“Here in Florida, driving while drunk may result in a 3rd degree felony, which typically ends up with a 12 month license suspension, having your vehicle impounded, DUI school, that the driver pays for, jail time and high fines, and that is just for the first offense,” says Grajek.

In Illinois if law enforcement pulls a driver over and discovers a BAC over .08, the driver’s license is immediately suspended for six months. A driver is then permitted to drive to make bail bond arrangements and drive home, but on day 46 after the initial arrest, the license suspension kicks in. If a driver declines field-testing for DUI, the driver’s license is suspended for a year on first refusal. On second refusal the license is suspended for three years.
Four convictions in Illinois and a driver’s license is revoked forever, the driver spends three years in jail and pays a $25,000 fine. These penalties are in effect across the border between Illinois and neighboring states. Drinking and driving with an Illinois plate in a border state results in receiving penalties under Illinois law.

In New Jersey there is a litany of penalties a convicted drunk driver may face. Depending on the facts of the case, a driver may land in jail for one to twenty years and face a lifetime license revocation. “You must have a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey that understands the laws,” says Grajek.

Oregon’s first time DUI fine is $1,000, plus an assessment fee, money for a drunk-driving program, another assessment fee, a county assessment fee and a diagnostic fee. Rates may vary, but it all adds up to one huge fine of over $1,500.

Georgia’s first time DUI conviction results in over 40 hours community service, over $1,000 in fines, a mandatory drunk driving program, a year of probation, evaluation by a medical professional, mandatory completion of any treatment, and likely jail time. Further offenses result in even harsher penalties.

New York’s laws are similar in nature to New Jersey and no drunk driver in their right mind should choose to attempt to represent him or herself through the criminal process. Get an experienced criminal defense attorney or face extremely harsh penalties.

“Of course, many drunk drivers feel any penalty they may receive is excessive and unfair. So the interpretation of what may be harsh versus a more lenient approach in a state court may be viewed as being just as punitive. Never attempt to represent yourself. The criminal process is too complicated to be successful without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney,” says Grajek.