10,228 people lost their lives in 2010 on account of drunk driving. State lawmakers try to tackle this issue with strict DUI laws and penalties. Sometimes states will experience spikes in DUI fatalities, accidents, and injuries, and lawmakers will respond with a crackdown on DUI offenders and pass stricter laws and add harsher punishments. The following is a snapshot of the states with the toughest DUI penalties in the nation.
Arizona made some big changes to their DUI laws on January 1, 2012. Some may be surprised to find out that if you are charged with your first DUI (non-extreme) in Arizona, you are not entitled to a jury trial.
Work release in Arizona increased to 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. Work release is a program where a person is permitted to be released from jail but only long enough to fulfill employment or studies, and a strict curfew is implemented to ensure that these privileges are very limited.
Arizona has a graduated penalty system based on BAC. A driver with a BAC above .15 can be charged with Extreme DUI, and if the driver’s BAC exceeds .20 then they can be charged with Super Extreme DUI. A Super Extreme DUI has a minimum jail sentence of 45 days, compared to just one day for a basic DUI charge.
A first time offender is often required to use an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months. For a first DUI, the fines can include a base fine of $250, an Arizona DUI Surcharge of $200, an Arizona Xtra DUI Assessment of $500, a Prison Construction Assessment of $500, and the additional required maintenance fees of the use of the ignition interlock device.
Maricopa County, Arizona operates male and female chain gangs, and now has a new anti-DUI chain gain made up of inmates serving sentences for DUI after entering the county illegally. The chain gangs wear pink shirts and clean the downtown Phoenix area.
A first time DUI offender in Georgia must spend 24 hours in jail, and may ultimately face up to a year in jail. The fines range from $600 to $1,000. Mandatory DUI School and mandatory alcohol evaluation can be ordered, the driver’s license can be suspended by the court for 12 months, and 40 hours of community service may be required.
Florida charges drivers with higher blood alcohol levels with tougher penalties. A first-time DUI offender with a BAL above .15 is required to use an ignition interlock device for 6 months, pay up to $2,000 in fines, and spend a maximum of 9 months in jail. Any first-time DUI offender can have their license suspended for up to one year, and can be required to complete 50 hours of community service.