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Toughest DUI Laws by State


Alcohol impaired driving is a crime in all fifty states of the United States of America. If you are driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, then you are committing a crime and law enforcement agencies across the state can arrest you and you will be tried according to the laws of that state.

DUI and DWI laws differ from state to state. The penalties for DUI or DWI crimes can differ greatly; for example, some states include the penalty of having to install an interlock ignition device (IID) in your car. This is a device that acts as a breathalyzer and won’t let your car start until you breathe into it and have a blood alcohol level below 0.08%. Not all states include the installation of an IID in the list of penalties for DUI and DWI. States that do include its installation as a penalty vary greatly in the amount of time an offender has to keep it installed in his or her car.

The following are the four strictest states when it comes to DUI law:


Arizona tops the charts for the state with the strictest DUI laws in effect. In 2007, Arizona became one of the only states that require first-time DUI offenders to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in their vehicles for one year. Offenders also face a minimum of $1,250 in fines and a maximum amount of fines in the thousands. Additionally, community service may be imposed on the offender. The offender’s license can be suspended for up to 360 days and he or she may serve up to 10 days in jail.


Individuals who drink and drive may be subjected to a minimum suspension of their driver’s license for six months. Additionally, offenders can face up to nine months in jail. Fines range between $500 and $2,000. If a first-time offender has a BAC of .08 or higher, he or she will also have to install an IID in his or her car.

South Carolina

With one of the highest rates of fatalities caused by drunk driving, South Carolina has cracked down on drinking and driving in recent years. Offenders face a minimum jail stay of 48 hours unless the judge decides to substitute the time for community service. Drivers with a BAC of .16 or more face a minimum of 30 days in jail.


In Alaska, first time offenders can have their license suspended for 90 days. The minimum fine for a first time offender is $1500, and a judge can increase this time based on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. First time offenders also have to install an IID for a minimum of six months.


First time offenders in Oklahoma may have to serve jail time between ten days and one year. Fines assessed up to $1,000 with minimum of additional $300 may be applied as DUI fees. Fines and fees expenses noted above do not cover costs incurred during completion of other terms of criminal sentence or during the administrative reinstatement process. These penalties also increase if there is a minor present in the car at the time of arrest.


In California, defendants who are facing their third charge for driving under the influence will encounter few chances and harsh penalties. A third offense DUI defendant is seen as especially dangerous by the courts and the resulting penalties are severe and have serious long-term consequences. If you have been charged with your third DUI offense in California, a qualified DUI criminal defense attorney can help defend your rights in court.

Excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration

DUI offenses in California are always misdemeanors unless one of the following is true, making it a felony.

  • If the defendant caused an accident during which someone other than themselves was injured;
  • If the defendant is charged with a fourth DUI in the next 10 years (known as the “lookback period”); or
  • If any of the defendant’s prior DUI charges are a felony, the third DUI will automatically be charged as a felony as well.
Penalties for a 3rd DUI

Third offense DUI defendants in California will face both administrative and criminal penalties. Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to three years; however, if applicable, after one year you may be eligible for a restricted license to use in limited circumstances, such as driving to work.

The criminal penalties for a third DUI offense are severe. A defendant will face a minimum of 120 days in jail, with a possible maximum sentence of one year. Jail alternatives may be available: a DUI criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate for a shorter time in jail in exchange for a portion of your sentence served as community service, drug and alcohol rehab or house arrest. You will also incur a minimum fine of $390; the fine may be increased to as much as $1000. You will also serve a minimum probationary period of three years with a possible maximum of five years. The judge will also order you to complete an 18-month DUI course.

The standard criminal penalties can also be increased if there are certain factors present in your DUI case. These factors are known as “enhancements” and include:

  • The DUI caused an accident
  • Hit-and-run
  • There was a minor in the car at the time
  • The defendant was driving on a suspended license
  • The defendant refused to a chemical test
  • Alcohol content was 0.15 or higher
  • The defendant was also speeding

Any one of these factors can result in an additional charge and even harsher penalties.

What to do if you have been charged with your 3rd DUI offense in California

If you have been charged with your 3rd DUI offense in California, the severe administrative and criminal penalties associated with your crime make hiring an attorney extremely important. Contact a qualified DUI criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the best legal defense.

Free Case Evaluation

Those in Southern California can call the Law Offices of Randy Collins to obtain a free case evaluation. Call (888) 250-2865 today to speak with an experienced DUI attorney and get the answers you’re looking for.

Client Reviews

I had never gotten in trouble before, so I was pretty concerned when I called the Law Offices of Randy Collins. After a 30 minute consultation about my DUI with injury I felt like I was in the right hands. I went with them and was very happy with the result.

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