While drinking and driving has been against the law in every U.S. state for several decades, it was not until relatively recently that lawmakers, police and prosecutors began taking DUI seriously. Over the last 30 to 40 years, states have passed laws that increasingly punish people convicted of drunk driving, Michigan included.
But because DUI laws are handled state by state, some states have imposed harsher anti-DUI laws than others. Here are four of the states with the strongest drinking and driving rules.
Arizona has the standard .08 blood-alcohol concentration level limit for the crime of DUI. But it also makes it a crime to drive while impaired “to the slightest degree. Also, your vehicle does not have to be in motion for you to be potentially arrested for DUI. As long as the prosecution can show you were “in physical control” of a vehicle while impaired, for example, by sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine shut off, you may be guilty of DUI.
The way Ohio stands out in its treatment of people convicted of DUI is in its strict use of driver’s license suspensions. If you are convicted of DUI in Ohio, your license will be suspended for up to three years. By contrast, Michigan law does not automatically suspend the license of someone convicted of DUI, though the judge can choose to do so.
Massachusetts is known for having the longest possible jail sentences for DUI, at two and a half years. The commonwealth also has a law called child endangerment, which is drinking and driving with a child under age 14 in the car. This crime carries a jail sentence of 90 days to two and a half years.
Utah distinguishes itself by having the lowest BAC in its DUI statute. You only have to be caught with a BAC above .05 to be charged with drunk driving. In addition, the charge goes from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor if you had a passenger below 16 or if you injured somebody.
Just because Michigan isn’t on this list does not mean that you won’t face jail time and other penalties if you plead guilty or get convicted at trial. Having an experienced defense attorney working for you can make going through the criminal justice system fairer.