Legislation

New legislation regarding drunk driving is constantly being drawn up, debated, and passed in the United States. Many states are working to make the penalties for drunk driving much harsher, especially for repeat offenders. A recent report by the Department of Motor Vehicles states that 4.7% of all first time DUI offenders are arrested a second time for DUI within one year of the initial offense. In 2004, of the total 139,331 DUI convictions, 32,880 of them were repeat offenders.

Currently, in every state, the minimum punishment for convicted drunk drivers involves the automatic loss of their licenses for a period of time determined by the state. Additionally, some states impose short jail sentences for first time convicts. The law in most states requires that offenders complete some type of treatment program. Other possible consequences include parole or probation, loss of auto insurance coverage, vehicle impoundment, and a court-ordered ignition device.

Ohio is one of many states that has recently increased the penalties for drunk driving. A new bill proposed that repeat drivers who hold five or more prior DUI convictions serve a mandatory 5-year jail sentence. In the state of Ohio, there are currently more than 31,000 people who have 5 or more DUI convictions.

Arizona is also cracking down on DUI crime. A law that makes Arizona one of the states with the toughest DUI laws in the country was recently passed. The new bill increases penalties for first-time DUI offenders who have extremely high blood alcohol content levels (0.15% or higher). Such offenders now have to serve a full 30 days in jail, instead of the previous minimum of 10 days.

Kansas has also passed new DUI laws over the past few years. Now, a first time DUI offender with a BAC level below 0.15% has to face having his or her license suspended for 30 days. Following those 30 days, a license permitting the offender to drive only to work and school is issued for an additional 330 days.

Kansas drivers with multiple DUI convictions are to have their licenses suspended for a full year. After the fourth conviction, a driver will permanently lose his or her license.

Also in Kansas, drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 will have their licenses suspended for an entire year after their first DUI offense. The state has also imposed new, harsher penalties for drivers with particularly high BAC levels. Drivers with BAC levels of 0.15% or above will have their license suspended for a year after their first conviction. After the first year, an ignition interlock will be installed in the driver’s car for an additional year.

California is also making life more difficult for drunk drivers. Now, California drivers who have at least 5 DUI offenses will have their licenses permanently revoked. The state has also increased the number of hours required in a treatment program from 45 to 60 for first-time DUI offenders caught with BAC levels of 0.20% or more.