Drunk driving was the cause of 31 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2014.
Often known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), the U.S. government estimates that drunk driving costs Americans more than $40-billion annually in economic losses. But things have been changing since the 1980s when it comes to cracking down on drunk driving, with drunk-driving fatalities declining by 57 percent from 1982 to 2014. According to NHTSA, new laws have attributed to getting motor vehicle crashes off the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. starting in 2009.
Evolving social attitudes have also contributed to a change, but some states have put in tougher penalties for drunk driving than others. Almost half the states in the U.S. now require all convicted DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they may drive. These devices essentially serve as a breathalyzer and won’t permit the car to start if alcohol is detected. The U.S. government estimates these devices have helped reduce repeat offenders by 67 percent.
WalletHub compared the enforcement rules throughout the U.S. to determine which states have stricter rules on DUI than others. It examined 15 key metrics to determine the rankings, examining the criminal penalties and prevention of each state.
The strictest state is Arizona with a total score of 84.09 percent. It ranked highest on the criminal penalties rank and second in prevention. Minimum jail time in Arizona on the first conviction is 10 days, while minimum jail time on the second conviction is 90 days. A DUI is an automatic felony on the third offense in the state and DUI factors into penalties for seven years.
Most lenient of the 50 states is South Dakota, with an overall score of 18.64 percent, while ranking 39th in criminal penalties and 51 on prevention. The state has no minimum sentence times for either a first or second conviction and vehicles are not impounded. It is also one of the few states that do not require an ignition interlock on conviction.
You can click on the various states below to see how they rank on the overall list.