DUI Laws & DUI Penalties by State
The maximum legal BAC (blood alcohol content) level is 0.08% per se in ALL States
In the U.S. it is a criminal offense to drive a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08% or above in all States. This maximum prescribed legal alcohol limit for drivers is commonly known as the 'per se' limit.
Any person who drives a vehicle with alcohol in their system that exceeds the legal limit will be guilty of DUI (driving under the influence).
Each State usually has different maximum legal BAC limits for certain classes of drivers such as young drivers (minors), professional and commercial drivers and those drivers with a restricted drivers license, these drivers all have lower legal limits or in some cases zero tolerance.
In addition to the 'per se' laws, in many States drivers can also be prosecuted for illegally driving a vehicle while visibly impaired through alcohol and/or drugs, regardless of a drivers actual BAC (blood alcohol content).
You can view the different penalties, maximum legal BAC limits and SR22 insurance requirements by selecting a State using the interactive map above or the links below.
The penalties upon a DUI conviction will be different in each State and will depend on which State a driver lives and the DUI laws in that particular State.
The majority of States also operate enhanced penalties for drivers convicted of DUI with a high blood alcohol content (commonly known as aggravated DUI or extreme DUI). This means that any driver convicted of driving drunk with a high BAC will face stiffer penalties such as increased fines, revocation / suspension periods and/or jail time etc.
Possible forfeiture / seizure of a drunk drivers vehicle or license plates could also be a possibility and ignition interlock (IID) drivers license restrictions are common in many States.
If a driver is charged with DUI or an alcohol related driving offense, in most States it will usually involve two separate hearings, a criminal hearing held in a criminal court and an administrative drivers license hearing. The State agency responsible for motor vehicles and driving licenses, usually the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), will undertake the administrative hearing
Drivers license revocation or suspension will inevitably follow a DUI / drunk driving conviction and often before a conviction if a chemical test has been refused.
All States have implied consent laws in place. Implied consent is consent that is inferred by a persons actions rather than consent that is expressly given by a person either verbally or in writing. When a person applies for and obtains a drivers license, legislation states that person has subsequently given their implied consent to be subject to a chemical test by providing a sample of blood, urine or breath or a filed sobriety test if police officers require them to do so. Refusal to submit to a chemical test or field sobriety test can lead to a criminal conviction that carries penalties equal too or harsher than a DUI conviction.
Common punishments when convicted of a DUI / drunk driving related offense include:
- drivers license suspension / revocation
- imprisonment in a state or county jail
- vehicle impoundment and/or vehicle confiscation
- vehicle license plate confiscation
- ignition interlock device (IID) restrictions
- mandatory attendance at DUI schools
- alcohol and/or substance abuse evaluations
- alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment programs
- drug and/or alcohol screening
- house arrest
- community service
Drivers convicted of an alcohol related driving offense will also see an increase in their auto insurance rates and will often have to submit an SR-22 filing (commonly known as SR-22 insurance) or an FR-44 filing if they are residents of Florida (commonly known as FR-44 insurance).
If you or someone you care about has been charged with DUI / drunk driving or any other alcohol related driving offense then it is recommended that an experienced DUI lawyer is contacted as soon as possible, this is especially important if there are one or more aggravating factors involved in the DUI / drunk driving case.