Drunk driving penalties have always been tough, but some state legislatures have become especially activist about creating new, harsher penalties. Arizona tops the list of strictest DUI laws by state, according to analysis by WalletHub. If you have gotten the impression that the Grand Canyon State has tougher drunk driving penalties than elsewhere, you’re right.

The report judged states on the severity of penalties. This includes the length of minimum jail time and whether there are extra, harsher penalties for things like repeat convictions, having a child in the car or having a high BAC. 

Arizona has strict penalties in virtually every category. Not only are the fines and jail time severe compared to other states, but Arizona is aggressive about other consequences like impounding your vehicle and mandating an ignition interlock (a breathalyzer to start your car) for one whole year.

If you are arrested for drunk driving, you have to present a strong defense to these accusations. With the harsh Arizona laws, it’s even more beneficial to hire an attorney to defend you – even if the conviction cannot be avoided, it’s possible to get the penalties reduced. Even if it’s your first drunk driving incident, Arizona law means that you are facing a long license suspension, hefty fines, and more costs that add up.

For example, the ignition interlock means more than just having to use it to start your car. There’s a monthly cost to rent the interlock, and you need monthly appointments to maintain it. Mandatory education and counseling will cost more money and time, too. This is how the costs add up to be much higher than only the court fees and fines.

Then, considering the even harsher penalties for a second or third conviction, it’s even more important to try to avoid a first conviction for DUI. Two DUIs in Arizona will often land you in prison and will definitely cost you tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of your time.

Arizona’s DUI laws are not likely to be weakened or rolled back anytime soon. If you or someone you know has been arrested, we strongly recommend that you do everything possible to avoid the conviction or at least get the expensive, burdensome penalties reduced – by working with an experienced DUI lawyer.