Back at the end of last year, Utah became the first state in the nation to reduce its blood alcohol content (BAC) level to .05 percent. The other 49 states – including Arizona – continue to have a legal limit of .08 percent. Did that dramatic change in Utah mean that it now has the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the nation?

Not according to a new survey of the 51 sets of DUI laws (the survey includes Washington DC). Minnesota has the toughest drunk driving laws, followed by Utah. Arizona ranks 15th in the nation.

The survey uses 21 metrics to rank DUI laws and penalties. Among the metrics used are the following:

  • Jail time: is it required and is there a mandatory minimum?
  • Driver’s license suspensions
  • Fines for first, second and third DUI offenses
  • Mandated ignition interlock devices installation
  • License plates confiscation
  • Vehicle confiscation

The survey also ranks states by supplementary DUI laws that include laws regarding open containers, repeat offenses and alcohol exclusion laws limiting treatment.

Arizona’s ranking was determined, in part, by our state’s record of 468 DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers. By contrast, Minnesota has 565 drunk driving arrests per 100K, while Georgia (ranked third toughest state) has just 247.

A first DUI in Minnesota can result in 90 days behind bars, while a person convicted here in Arizona faces a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. In Utah, a first DUI offense results in zero days behind bars, the survey said (clearly Utah’s lowered BAC rate figured prominently in the ratings). What’s most troubling about the results is that it entirely failed to take into account the collateral consequences that a DUI arrest (not even a conviction!) has on an individual. As someone who regularly speaks at and goes to national conventions for DUI lawyers, let me assure you that Arizona is known by those who practice and is known as by far the toughest state in the Union.

Of course, it hardly matters to someone facing an Arizona drunk driving charge what the possible penalties would have been if the arrest had been in Minnesota, Utah, Florida, New York or any other state. You’re facing harsh penalties here and now and need immediate legal help.

Get the help you need by contacting a Scottsdale attorney experienced in protecting rights, driving privileges and freedom.