The Toughest and Most Lenient States for DUI Offenses

A study finds that some states are a lot tougher on drunken-driving than others. Where does your state rank?

The Toughest and Most Lenient States for DUI Offenses Photo (cc) by hyku

Drunken driving has decreased since crackdowns started in the 1980s, but it still remains a major problem on U.S. roadways.

A WalletHub analysis shows that some states have done a better job than others at cracking down on driving under the influence (DUI) offenses, also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses.

The website compared and ranked every state by evaluating 15 metrics, such as criminal penalties, vehicle impounding and insurance rate increases.

WalletHub also placed more weight on certain metrics, such as tough jail sentences and other enforcement techniques (like ignition interlock devices, which prevent a car from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath)that have been shown to have a bigger impact on repeat offenders.

According to WalletHub, the strictest states are:

  • Arizona (strictest)
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • West Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Georgia, Washington, Delaware (tie)
  • Tennessee

The most lenient states are:

  • New Jersey, Ohio (tie)
  • Vermont
  • Kentucky
  • Wisconsin
  • Montana
  • Maryland
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • District of Columbia
  • South Dakota (most lenient)

You can find the full rankings here.

In 2013, more than 10,000 people died in crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Such accidents were responsible for 31 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.

The estimated economic cost of these crashes in 2010 was $49.8 billion. That includes lost productivity, medical costs, property damage, and legal and court expenses, among other costs.

What do you think of these rankings? Is your state tough enough on drunken driving? Sound off below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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