DUI Checkpoint

Toughest DUI States

When a person is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol for the first time, he or she will begin a process that can be both long and arduous.

After deciding whether or not to take the roadside tests, the person will then be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test at the police station. If he or she submits to the test and returns a result that is .08 percent or greater, the law enforcement officer is likely to place the person under arrest. Bond will be set, and the first-time DUI offender will then need to contact friends, family, and a bail bonds person in order to have his or her release secured. While bail bonds agents are available 24 hours per day, the process of getting booked into the jail and getting released may take hours.

The DUI Process

Bonding out of jail is only the beginning of the criminal process. If the first-time offender is convicted of driving under the influence in one of the five toughest states for first-time offenses, he or she will face substantially harsher penalties than if the conviction happened in another. Here are the five states with the harshest penalties for people who receive first-time convictions for driving while intoxicated.

Implications in Different States


First-time drunk driving offenders typically can expect fines averaging around $1,537. In Arizona, it is very common for judges to require first-time offenders without any aggravating factors to spend at least some time in jail. The jail sentence for a first-time DWI conviction ranges from a minimum of 10 days up to 6 months. Judges will often suspend 9 days of the 10-day minimum if the defendant agrees to complete alcohol education courses. They will have to pay for the day they spend in jail at a cost of $130. Arizona additionally requires first-time offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for one year, which costs around $1,200 more. A person who is convicted will also have his or her license suspended for 90 days and complete some community service hours.


In California, a first-time offense brings a jail sentence of a minimum 4 days in jail up to 6 months, although judges normally suspend the jail portion. They will be required to pay a fine ranging from $390 to $1,000. If they can’t afford to do so, they can instead serve 13 days cleaning up the highways as a part of a road crew. Other penalties include a 4-month driver’s license suspension, mandatory ignition interlock use for 1 year and 3 to 9 months of alcohol classes.


First-time drunk driving convictions in Oregon bring between 2 days and 1 year in jail. Offenders will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for a year in order to get their licenses reinstated. Driving privileges are suspended following a conviction for between 90 days and 1 year. Often, judges assess community service up to 80 hours although they have discretion whether or not to order it.


Texas doesn’t mess around when it comes to sentences for first-time DWI convictions. People who are convicted can expect to spend anywhere from a minimum of 3 days up to 6 months in jail. They will also face a fine of up to $2,000, a surcharge for DWI of an additional $1,000 per year for 3 years and a driver’s license suspension of one year. Judges have discretion to also order the installation of an ignition interlock device for a year. Offenders will also be required to attend 12 hours of alcohol classes and complete at least 24 hours of community service.


People who are convicted of a first-time DWI offense in Washington may choose to either spend 1 day in jail or serve 15 days on home electronic monitoring. While the minimum mandatory jail sentence is 1 day, the court can sentence people for up to 1 year in jail. Offenders will also have to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation. They face fines ranging between $865 and $5,000, a license suspension of at least 90 days and mandatory installation and use of an ignition interlock device for one year.

In every state, courts treat driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs quite harshly. This is true even when the person has a clear record and there are no aggravating factors present. When aggravating factors did occur, people can expect to face sentences that are even more severe.

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