If you want to quantify the devastation created by drunk driving, remember the number 30. Each day, almost 30 people in the United States die from alcohol-related driving crashes. These crashes account for about 30 percent of all traffic-related deaths. Every 30 minutes, someone is killed as the result of an alcohol-related accident.
The number of deaths from alcohol-related accidents is about 10,000 deaths a year for the past ten years. This trend prompted Deborah Hersman, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, to label it an ongoing national epidemic.
States are ramping up their enforcement efforts against motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. One DUI charge could land you with a hefty fine, a steep rise in your car insurance rates and possible suspension of your driver’s license.
Here are six states that have especially tough DUI laws.
6 worst states to get a DUI
If you receive three OWI convictions, invest in some walking shoes. Your driver’s license can be suspended for the rest of your life.
For a first DUI offense, if your blood alcohol concentration is over 0.08 and you refuse a chemical test, you can lose complete driving privileges for one year.
In the Sunshine State, a DUI conviction stays on your record for a full 75 years.
In Georgia, for your first DUI you'll be greeted with a one-year suspension of your license. This is especially long compared to many other states, where your license would typically be suspended for 90 to 120 days.
In the Commonwealth, a DUI conviction will come down heavy on the pocketbook. All told, a first conviction can cost you over $8,000. A second conviction can cost up to $10,000.
In the Gopher State, if you get more than two DUI convictions or license revocations in ten years, your normal license plates can be revoked and replaced with “whiskey plates.” These are plates that start with the letter “W” that law enforcement officers will recognize. A law enforcement officer can stop you provided they have a reason to do so.
Triple whammy states
In addition, there are 13 states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington) where for a first offense, you could receive a triple whammy:
- Your driver's license can be suspended on the spot when you're stopped by an officer.
- Your license can be revoked for 90 days or more if you refuse to take a breath alcohol test when stopped or arrested.
- You can get slapped for violating the state's open container law if you have open booze in your vehicle.
Drunk driving and state laws
May 2013 marked twenty-five years since a deadly drunk driving crash in Carrolton, KY killed 24 kids and three adults. The National Transportation Safety Board took the anniversary's occasion to issue a series of strong steps to help the United States eliminate alcohol-related crashes.
One recommendation was that all states drop the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to from 0.08 to 0.05. Typically, a man weighing 180 pounds could drink three beers or glasses of wine in an hour and a half and stay under the revised limit – although it’s important to note that all bodies processes alcohol differently.
Currently in all states and the District of Columbia, .08 BAC is the law. The same 180-pound man can drink four beers or glasses of wine and stay below that.
However, studies show that once you have drunk that much alcohol, how well you judge distance and speed, how you steer, how you track the driving environment, braking, and staying in your lane are compromised.
How DUIs affect your car insurance
If you're convicted of driving under the influence, expect your auto insurance rates to spike no matter what state you live in. “You'll become someone an auto insurer is reluctant to do business with,” says Mike Barry, spokesman with the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute. “They may be willing to renew your policy, but your premiums will be much higher. You've become a driver who's a high risk.”
Chances are good you'll wind up in a assigned risk pool, which is a group of individuals considered too high risk to be placed in the normal insurance market. These pools exist in each state. Every auto insurer doing business in your state participates and is required to accept motorists assigned to them. Your premiums will likely be substantially higher than if you hadn't been convicted for drunk driving.
Open your wallet
Getting a drunk driving citation for the first time will also hurt you in the pocketbook. State laws vary but typical penalties are between $300 and $1000. And that's not the whole story. California's Alcohol and Drug Programs estimates the total costs for a first-time DUI at $6,641. The total includes:
- A towing fee.
- Court costs.
- Alcohol treatment program costs.
- Lawyer fees.
- Restitution fund fee, which compensates the injuries and losses of victims.
- License restitution fee that you'll pay to restore your driving privileges after they've been suspended.
- The jump in your insurance rates.