Are Red States Stricter than Blue States on DUI?
In this presidential election year, it’s tempting to look at everything from a political lens. The consumer website WalletHub.com set out to rank states according to the strictness of their DUI laws, judging them on numerous criteria, including:
- Minimum jail time for first and second offenses
- Whether a DUI is an automatic felony
- The length of the “look back” period for prior DUI convictions
- Enhancements for high blood alcohol content over 0.10, 0.15 and 0.16
- Minimum fine for first and second offenses
- Protection against child endangerment
- When ignition interlock becomes mandatory
- Whether there is an administrative license suspension upon arrest
- Length of time ignition interlock is mandatory
- Whether an alcohol abuse assessment or treatment is mandatory
- Whether the vehicle is impounded upon arrest
- Average insurance rate increase after a DUI
- “No-refusal” initiative for rapid search warrants for sobriety testing
- Sobriety checkpoints
- Additional penalties
Points were awarded in two categories: criminal penalties and prevention. In the WalletHub analysis, the fewer the points awarded, the stricter the state’s DUI laws. The state with the strictest criminal penalties was Arizona (which also placed second for prevention), and the strictest state in terms of prevention was Arkansas. There was a tie for the most lax criminal penalties between Maryland and Wisconsin, and South Dakota was judged most lax for prevention.
From this data, WalletHub concluded that “red states” had an average rank of 23 and “blue states” averaged 28.2. Following this analysis, red states were stricter than blue states when it comes to DUI.
These findings are not entirely consistent with Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s assessment of the various states. In its Fifth Anniversary Report to the Nation, MADD gave five stars out of five to deep blue Illinois, and four stars to blue Hawaii, California and New York. Meanwhile, reliably red Alaska garnered only two stars and the Lone Star State collected only three. Still, more five-star states were red, including Utah, Arizona, Kansas and Nebraska.
However, both sources concluded that true-blue New Jersey was among the least strict states when it comes to DUI enforcement. WalletHub ranks the Garden State 42 for criminal penalties and 37 for prevention, while MADD only awarded New Jersey two stars.