dui law

Everyone knows what a DUI is, but did you know that the consequences for driving drunk vary from one state to the next? In some parts of the United States, making the mistake of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated could cost you more than you might think. Here are the states with the toughest DUI laws.

Quick Facts

As a whole, the United States takes drinking and driving seriously. On average, your first offense is going to cost you $352. That’s more than it costs to take an Uber from Washington, DC to Philadelphia. Your second costs an average of $762, which is about the same as an Uber trip from DC to New York City.

There are only six states that cannot automatically suspend your license, with 59% of all states utilizing a 90-day suspension. Some states automatically strip you of your ability to drive for a full year. Almost 90% of states also require you to equip an Ignition Interlock device, as well. Another 37 states also require treatment for alcohol abuse.

On average, a DUI stays on your record for five six years. In five states, your DUI will follow you for life. Repeat DUI offenders in the United States spend an average of three weeks in jail, while first time offenders typically stay behind bars for one day.

In various studies, traditionally red states hold harsher DUI laws than blue states. With these statistics in mind, the following states hold the harshest laws on record.


By far the strictest state in the nation, Arizona doesn’t take a single DUI lightly. You’ll spend a minimum of 10 days in jail for your first offense, followed by a minimum of 90 days for a second. Reach a third offense, and your DUI is automatically a felony.

Your vehicle will be impounded and you’ll lose your license for 90 days. An Ignition Interlock is mandatory for a full year, as is an alcohol assessment. Fines start at $750, reaching $1,750 for a second conviction. The state also levies additional penalties if the judge sees fit.


Georgia shares the same minimum jail sentences as Arizona, but they won’t slap you with a felony until your fourth offense. Unlike Arizona, your DUI will follow you around for 10 years instead of seven. License suspensions last 360 days, but they won’t impound your vehicle and don’t require an Ignition Interlock until your second conviction.

The fines are lower, too. Your first offense costs $300, while the second costs $600. Finally, your insurance is likely to increase by 47%. That’s 10% higher than Arizona. While the long-term consequences are worse in Georgia, their short-term minimums are far more lenient.


It’s strange to think that anyone would drive under the influence in such a snowy state, but they do. Alaska’s minimum jail time for a first-time offence is three days, followed by 20 days for a second. You’ll receive a felony for your third offense. All three stay on your record for a whopping 15 years.

The license suspension is 90 days and you will need an Ignition Interlock for six months after just one DUI. They won’t impound your car, though. Fines are steep in Alaska with a minimum of $1,500 for your first DUI. That goes up to $3,000 minimum for your second. On the bright side, the state does not use sobriety checkpoints.