arizona has the toughest DUI penalties in the nationMost people have a vague idea of what happens after a DUI, but the people that know exactly what happens tend to be those that have had the misfortune (and bad judgment) to get a drunk driving conviction of their own. And while they will suffer the consequences, which might include fines, jail time, ignition interlocks, higher insurance rates, and other setbacks – they probably don’t know if they’re better off than their neighbors in other states.

The answer is yes, unless they live in Arizona. Because Arizona has the toughest DUI penalties in the country, according to a recent wallethub survey.

The reasons Arizona takes the brass ring:

  • Jail time. Arizona imposes a minimum of 10 days in jail, the highest by far in the country. Many states have no minimums.
  • Automatic felony for 3rd DUI. A fairly common penalty, though some states are more lenient and just four are tougher.

Arizona also fines offenders  $1,250 for a first offense – a stiff automatic penalty – and requires mandatory screening and/or treatment for alcohol abuse.

Arizona is one of 24 states that requires an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, to be installed after a first offense. An ignition interlock prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

So, while the high minimum jail term clinches the title for Arizona, its DUI laws are thorough and well-thought-out.

For the record, South Dakota wins the prize for the state that offers drunk drivers the fewest repercussions: no minimum jail sentence for first or second offenses, and no license suspension.

The upshot: don’t drink and drive anywhere, because it’s foolish and dangerous. Most states are in agreement with this proposition, and one state clearly has its head on straighter than the rest. Hats off to Arizona.

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