While the minimum legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and a driver in any state is considered alcohol impaired when having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher, there are still many variants in drunk driving rules across the nation. A consumer finance website recently highlighted the differences by analyzing law enforcement rules in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in regards to driving while under the influence.
The states were compared by looking at 15 different factors like penalties for DUI convictions, minimum mandatory jail sentences and more. States like Utah, Alaska, Connecticut and Kansas rank among the strictest for drunk driving laws, and Arizona is the strictest state as it has the longest minimum jail term for a first DUI offense while a third DUI offense is automatically a felony.
Other states are more lenient towards DUIs as more than half of them have no minimum sentences for a first-time conviction. An infographic of the findings shows that California was moderately lenient on DUI offenses, but states like Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky were among the most lenient areas. South Dakota was the least strict as there was no license suspension, required ignition interlock device or vehicle impound for a third DUI.
Just as the penalties for a DUI conviction vary from state to state, the circumstances in every case change and make a difference towards the outcome. In a case involving a drunk driving charge, an attorney for the defendant may be able to evaluate the evidence and challenge its admissibility. For example, breath test results could be thrown out if the machine was calibrated incorrectly or if the test itself was improperly administered.