How DUI Laws Vary Across Different States

If you have been arrested for DUI (driving under the influence) in a foreign state, don't make any assumptions as far as DUI laws are concerned because they vary across states. The penalties, suspensions, and fines (among other things) you are used to at home may not apply in your host state. That is why your best bet is to get a local DUI lawyer who understands the laws best and will be able to help you. Here are some of the areas in which DUI laws vary across different states:

Minimum and Maximum Penalties

State laws differ on minimum and maximum penalties for different categories of DUI convictions. Some states have minimum and maximum penalties for different categories of punishments such as jail time, fines and license suspension. For example, jail time for first offense DUI ranges from 4 days to 6 months while in Indiana it ranges from 60 days to 1 year. Some states, such as Hawaii, don't even have minimum jail time for first offenders.

Ignition Interlock

The ignition interlock is a device that locks your car's ignition until you can blow it and pass its integrated DUI test. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) has to be under a certain limit before the car's engine can start. Some states have mandatory ignition interlock laws for all offenders while others don't enforce it for first-time offenders.

Driving Privileges

States also differ on how they handle post-conviction driving privileges. For example, some states may restore your driving privileges during suspension while it's virtually impossible in other states. Some states, such as Colorado, may restore your driving privileges if you get an ignition interlock device installed in your car.

Vehicle Confiscation

For most people, having their car impounded when convicted of DUI is the worst thing that can happen. Vehicle confliction was more common in the past than it is today mainly because the invention of ignition interlock devices has rendered it (almost) absolute. However, there are still states with laws that allow vehicle confiscation, although the car is usually returned to the owner after paying some fines and penalties.

Zero Tolerance Laws

Lastly, states also have different zero tolerance DUI laws. Zero tolerance laws are designed to prevent minors from drinking and driving by making it a crime for anybody who has not reached the minimum drinking age (21) to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. Many states will only use the zero tolerance laws on motorist with a BAC of at least 0.02, but others take the literal meaning of "zero tolerance" and will charge you as long as your BAC is above zero.