In the United States, there are many, many different laws. These laws are made at the federal level and state levels, by both courts and legislatures. While some areas of law, such as patents or bankruptcy are controlled by federal law and are fairly uniform across the country, many other areas of law are controlled at the state level. Because the needs of each state are different, throughout the years, each state has developed its own unique body of laws. Criminal law is one area that is largely state specific. Thus, one state might have severe laws concerning a particular topic, such as DUI, while another may be more lenient on the same issue.
WalletHub recently released its rankings that looked at which state's DUI law was the strictest. The study ranked Georgia as having the second most severe laws in the country. Arizona is the only state that was found to have harsher laws. Alaska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Connecticut, Utah, Delaware, and West Virginia rounded out the top 10. Kentucky and Hawaii ranked right in the middle of the pack, at numbers 25 and 26 respectively. The state with the most lenient DUI laws, according to WalletHub, is South Dakota because the state has no mandatory jail time for those convicted of driving under the influence.
WalletHub reported that “[a]ll but six states can automatically suspend the license of someone arrested for DUI, before any court involvement.” The period of license suspension ranged from no time up to one year, with the most common amount of time being up to 90 days. Ignition interlock devices were required in 88% of states for DUI offenders and 37 states had mandatory alcohol abuse assessment or treatment programs.
Arizona, Georgia, and Oklahoma are the only states that have a minimum jail sentence of 10 days for first time DUI offenders. Alaska ranked as the state with the third strictest DUI laws, only requires three days behind bars for a first offense. As previously mentioned South Dakota also does not have a minimum jail term for first time DUI offenders. However, it is not unique in this regard, about half of the states don't have a minimum jail term and of those that do, one to three days is more common.
Another statistic that WalletHub reported was when a DUI automatically becomes a felony within the state. While the amount of time varied from state to state, in general, a third or fourth offense within a certain number of years was typically considered a felony offense in most states. For example, in Arizona, a DUI is usually considered a felony after the third offense in seven years and in Georgia, a fourth DUI is typically considered a felony offense if it is within ten years of the prior offenses. (However, this is only for offenses dating on or after July 1, 2008.)
If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, it is important to take this charge seriously, because, as the WalletHub study shows, you are facing some of the harshest DUI penalties in the country. A skilled, competent, and experienced Cobb County DUI attorney, like Richard Lawson, can assist you with your case. Contact his office today for a free consultation.