How DUI Laws Vary By State

Posted on: 19 March 2020

If the authorities have charged you with driving under the influence (DUI) in another state, you should not assume everything will progress as it would in your state. DUI laws vary a lot, and you can get into real trouble if you make assumptions of similarity. Below are some of the ways in which DUI laws vary in different jurisdictions.

Mandatory Jail Time

A DUI conviction can attract all manner of punishment. A monetary fine, jail time, and installation ignition interlock are some of the punishments to expect. In some states, you might not spend even a day behind bars if you are convicted of a first DUI. Other states have mandatory jail time that you must serve. Even if it is a day or two behind bars, the mandatory jail time can still greatly inconvenience you if you are a busy person.

Monetary Fines

Monetary fines are almost guaranteed for those convicted of DUIs. The fine can range from $150 to $1,800 depending on the state and the circumstances of the case. Many people don't have thousands of dollars lying around, which makes the variation significant.

Zero Tolerance Laws

All states have DUI laws that make it a crime to drive with blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08. Many states have also enacted zero-tolerance DUI laws for drivers under the age of 21. The zero-tolerance laws lower the BAC to minimum levels that can range anywhere from 0.00 to 0.02. A minimum BAC of 0.00 means the authorities can charge you with DUI even with the tiniest bit of alcohol in your system.

Enhanced Penalties

DUI punishments depend on specific circumstances of the case. Some factors aggravate your DUI charges, while others mitigate the charges. The aggravating factors attract enhanced penalties, while the mitigating factors may earn you some leniency from the judge. A high BAC is one of the aggravating factors that attract enhanced penalties. However, the minimum BAC that triggers enhanced penalties varies by state. The minimum BAC for enhanced penalties typically ranges from 0.15 to 0.20.

Insurance Consequences

A DUI conviction affects auto insurance rates. Insurance companies will view you as a high-risk driver and raise your rates to protect themselves. The effect of the DUI conviction will stay on your insurance record for a long time — the exact duration of which also varies by state. The period can range from five to ten years.

The best thing to do with an out-of-state DUI is to get a lawyer. A DUI attorney will be conversant with the local laws and help you craft a viable defense.