Increased Penalties for High Blood Alcohol Content

11/14/2016

In 2014, 56 percent of drivers who had been drinking and were involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content of .15 or greater. Some states have enacted laws with enhanced sanctions for drunken driving offenders who are found to have a high BAC.   

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Increased Penalties for high blood alcohol content
States Penalties
Alabama
§ 32-5A-191 (i)
 

.15

 

If a first time DUI offender has a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, their license will be suspended for 90 days, after which an ignition interlock will be installed in their car for 2 years. The offender is also required to receive double the minimum penalty that would have applied for a DUI with a BAC under 0.15.

Alaska N/A
Arizona
§ 28-1382
For offenders who were convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.15 to 0.2, a judge may suspend all but 9 days of their jail time if they install an ignition interlock device. For drivers convicted of driving with a BAC greater than 0.2, a judge may suspend all but 14 days of their jail sentence if they install an interlock device.
Arkansas

N/A - eliminated in HB 1640 (2009)

California
Vehicle Code §§ 23578, 23538, 23575
.15 (or BAC of .20): License suspension for 10 months (but restricted license after one month with completion of 9-month DUI education and counseling program).


The court may order a first offender to operate only motor vehicles equipped with “ignition interlock” devices for not more than 3 years. Heightened consideration is to be given to first offenders with a BAC ≥.15 or to first offenders who refused to take a chemical test, including to grant probation participation for at least 3 months or longer in a licensed program that consists of at least 30 hours of program activities, including those education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions.

First offenders who have been placed on probation and at the time of the offense had either a BAC ≥0.20 or refused to submit to a chemical test must be placed in a licensed alcohol and other drug education program that consists of at least 60 hours of program activities for at least 9 months or longer.

Colorado
§ 42-4-1307

.15

 

Driving under the Influence/Illegal per se  subsequent offense or BAC or BrAC ≥ 0.20-minimum 10 days imprisonment, up to 1 year; $600 to $1,500; community service 48 to 120 hours (48 hours mandatory).

>.15 BAC classified as “persistent drunk driver” – Mandatory ignition interlock for at least one year. No probationary-restricted license may be issued for reasons of employment/alcohol education.

Connecticut N/A - eliminated in SB 465 (2014)
Delaware
Tit. 21 § 4177

.15

 

For subsequent offenders, higher BACs will increase time of revocation. First offense: 12 months; if between .15 and .19: 18 months; if ≥.20: 24 months

District of Columbia
§ 50-2206.13
 

First offense:
If BAC ≥ 0.20 but < 0.25: 10 days.
If BAC ≥ 0.25 but < 0.30: 15 days.
If BAC ≥.30: 20 days

 

Second offense (within 15 years):
If BAC ≥ 0.20 but < 0.25: 15 days.
If BAC ≥ 0.25 but < 0.30: 20 days.
If BAC ≥.30: 25 days

 

Third and subsequent offenses (within 15 years):
If BAC ≥ 0.20 but < 0.25: 20 days.
If BAC ≥ 0.25 but < 0.30: 25 days.
If BAC ≥.30: 30 days

Florida
§ 316.193
 

.15

 

A BAC/BrAC ≥0.15 or a passenger under 18 years old (child endangerment): first offense – not more than 9 months in jail, a fine of $1,000 to $2,000; second offense – not more than 12 months in jail, a fine of $2,000 to $4,000; third offense – not more than 12 months in jail, a fine of not less than $4,000.

Georgia
§ 40-6-391.1
 

.15

 

The court cannot accept a nolo contendere plea in, where the offender’s BAC or BrAC was ≥ .15.

Guam No Information
Hawaii *Effective January 1, 2011, there are no increased penalties for high BAC offenders.
Idaho
§ 18-8004C

.20

 

First offense with BAC/BrAC ≥ 0.20-Misdemeanor – between 10 days and 1 year in jail (must serve 48 consecutive hours), fine up to $2,000.

Second or subsequent offense with a BAC/BrAC ≥ 0.20 where there has been a previous offense at or above 0.20 within 10 years – felony–between 30 days and5 years, fine up to $5,000, must surrender license to court and must have driving privileges suspended for between 1 and 5 years after release from confinement.

Illinois
Ch. 625 § 5/11-501
 

.16

 

In addition to any other sanctions, a person, convicted for a drunk-driving offense is subject to the following sanctions if they had a BAC/BrAC ≥ .16:

First offense – minimum100 hours community service/$500 fine.
Second offense (within 10 years) – 2 days jail/$1,250 fine.
Third offense (within 20 years) – 90 days jail/$2,500 fine.
Fourth or subsequent offense- Class 2 felony-3 to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $25,000 ($5,000 mandatory) with no eligibility for probation/conditional discharge.

Indiana
§ 9-30-5-1

.15

 

BAC/BrAC ≥ .15 – Class A Misdemeanor – Not more than 1 year.

Iowa
§ 321J.2
 

.15

 

For a first offense, there is a mandatory imprisonment sentence of 48 hours and fine if the offender had a BAC/BrAC > .15.

Kansas
§ 8-1014
 

.15

 

First offense with a BAC of 0.15 or above, – Mandatory suspension of license for 1 year and restricted driving privileges for 1 year; for second offense – Suspension 1 year and restricted driving privileges 2 years.

Kentucky
§ 189A.010
 

.15

 

A person who has been convicted of a drunk-driving offense is subject to enhanced mandatory incarceration if driving with a BAC ≥ .15.

Louisiana
Tit. 14 § 98.1
 

.15, .20

 

Blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent – at least 48 hours of the sentence shall be served without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

 

Blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent – fined between $750 and $1,000 and at least 48 hours of the sentence shall be served without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

 

License must be suspended for 2 years.

Maine
Tit. 29A § 2411
 

.15

 

Generally, imprisonment is not necessary for a first offense. However, a minimum of 48 hours imprisonment mandatory if BAC ≥ .15.

Maryland
Transp. § 16-205.1
 

.15

 

If a vehicle operator has a BAC of 0.15 or more at the time of testing, the driver is ineligible for modification of a license suspension or issuance of a restrictive license.

Massachusetts
Ch. 90 § 24Q

.20 

 

If BAC was > .20 or if a repeat violation, the violator shall complete an assessment and alcohol treatment of the level of the offender’s addiction to alcohol or drugs, and the department’s recommended course of treatment.

Michigan
§ 257.625
 

.17

 

For offenders where the BAC is ≥ .17, the offender must install an ignition interlock device. Imprisonment up to 180 days, fine between $200 and $700.

Minnesota
§ 169A.03
 

.16

 

Unless maximum bail is imposed, a person charged with a drunk driving or implied consent offense where the offender has been charged with driving with an alcohol concentration ≥ 0.16 can be released from detention only by agreeing to abstain from alcohol use and to submit to daily monitoring of alcohol levels.

Mississippi No increased penalties.
Missouri
§ 577.010
 

.15, .20

 

BAC ≥ 0.15 but < 0.20: 2 days mandatory imprisonment

 

BAC ≥ 0.20: 5 days mandatory imprisonment

 

Cannot waive requirement for successful completion of drug or alcohol education or rehabilitation program prior to restoration of driving privileges if BAC over .15.

Montana
§ 61-8-465

.16

 

First violation: Fine of $1,000 and imprisonment between 48 hours and 1 year. Second violation: Fine of $2,500 and imprisonment between 15 days and 1 year. Third violation: Fine of $5,000 and imprisonment between 40 days and 1 year.

Nebraska
§ 60-6,197.03

.15

 

First offense with BAC 0.15 or above, mandatory 120 hours of community service and (1 year license suspension or revocation). Second offense within 12 years if BAC is 0.15 or above, jail for 10 days or 240 hours of community service.

If a driver that has a prior felony conviction for driving with a BAC of over 0.15 is caught driving with a BAC higher than 0.02, on top of any other penalties, the act is a Class IIIA misdemeanor.

Nevada
§ 484C.400

.18

 

Alcohol treatment is mandatory for first offense if BAC/BrAC is ≥ .18.

New Hampshire
§ 265-A:3

.16

 

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated Offense: Driving with a BAC/BrAC ≥.16. First offense is Class A misdemeanor.

 

Driving without high BAC is a violation instead of a crime.

New Jersey
§ 39:4-50.17

.15

 

Installation of ignition interlock mandatory for an offender with a BAC of 0.15 or more.

New Mexico
§ 66-8-102
 

.16

 

Aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs consists of a person who has an alcohol concentration of .16 or more in the blood or breath while a vehicle. First offense – 48 consecutive hours mandatory minimum imprisonment.

New York
Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1192
 

.18

 

BAC > 0.18 – “Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated”: fine $1,000 to $2,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both; driver’s license revocation – one year (18 months for a second offense within 10 years) if probation granted for first offense, it must be accompanied by ignition interlock for the duration of the probation.

North Carolina
§ 20-179

.15

 

The level of punishment given a DWI offender is determined by weighing aggravating factors (e.g., BAC ≥..15, reckless/dangerous driving, negligent driving resulting in an accident or driving with a revoked license) and mitigating factors.

Persons eligible for restricted driving privileges may be required to operate motor vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device. This requirement is mandatory if the BAC was ≥.15. If convicted of .15 BAC and restricted license is issued with ignition interlock—the driver must never have over .04 BAC.

North Dakota
§ 39-08-01

.18

 

If BAC > .18, mandatory pre-DWI conviction license suspension increases from 30 to 80 days for first offense, increases from 1 to 2 years for second offense, and from 2 to 3 years for third or subsequent offense.

 

If BAC > .18, mandatory post-DWI conviction license suspension increases from 91 days to 180 for first offense, from 365 days to 2 years for second offense, and 2 to 3 years for third or subsequent offense.

Ohio
§ 4511.19

.17

 

For illegal per se offenses with a BAC ≥.17: First offense – 3 consecutive days in jail with 3 consecutive days of a driver’s intervention program or 6 consecutive days in jail; Second offense (within 6 years) – 20 consecutive days (Alternative: 10 consecutive days in jail and not less than 36 consecutive days “house arrest” with electronic monitoring”).

Oklahoma
Tit. 47 § 11-902
 

.15

 

Aggravated Driving: A person is guilty of Aggravated Driving if convicted of driving under the influence with a BAC/BrAC ≥.15. The following sanctions are imposed and such do not preclude other possible punishments: mandatory minimum treatment for 28 days (inpatient) with1 year aftercare; 480 hours of community service; and, ignition interlock use for a minimum of 90 days.

Oregon
§ 813.010

.15

 

The court shall impose a fine of a minimum of $2,000 if a person is convicted of driving a vehicle with .15 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the blood as shown by a chemical analysis of the blood or breath.

Pennsylvania
Tit. 75 § 3802

.16

 

High rate of alcohol: .10 to < .16

First offense -imprisonment of not less than 48 consecutive hours nor more than six months, a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000, attendance at an alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.

Second offense – imprisonment of not less than 30 days nor more than six months, a fine of not less than $750 nor more than $5,000, attendance at an alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.

 

Highest rate of alcohol: .16

First offense – imprisonment of not less than 72 consecutive hours nor more than six months; a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000, attendance at an alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.

Second offense – imprisonment of not less than 90 days nor more than five years, a fine of not less than $1,500, attendance at an alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.

Puerto Rico No information.
Rhode Island
§ 31-27-2

.15

 

First offense (BAC ≥ .15) (misdemeanor) – Not more than 1 year. Any first offense – No mandatory jail time. Mandatory minimum fine first offense (BAC ≥ .15 - misdemeanor) – $500. Community service: first offense (BAC ≥ .15) – 20 to 60 hours.

 

Term of License Withdrawal—first offense (BAC ≥ .15 - misdemeanor) – 3 to 18 months suspension.

 

A course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of controlled substances is required.

South Carolina
§ 56-5-2933

.16

 

First offense: Fine of $1,000 or imprisonment between 30 and 90 days. The court may provide for thirty days of public service employment instead of imprisonment. Second offense: Fine between $3,500 and $6,500 and imprisonment between 90 days and 3 years. Third offense: Fine between $7,500 and $10,000 and imprisonment between 6 months and 5 years.

South Dakota
§ 32-23-2.1

.17


If BAC is 0.17 or higher the offender may be sentenced to a 24/7 continuous sobriety monitoring program and must undergo a court-ordered evaluation by a chemical dependency counselor or licensed or certified health care professional to determine if the defendant is chemically dependent.

Tennessee
§ 55-10-402
 

.20

 

Mandatory minimum jail time: First offense – (If BAC/BrAC ≥0.20 – 7 consecutive days).

Texas
Penal Code § 49.04
 

.15

 

If greater than .15 BAC, the court must order installation of ignition interlock devices on all owned motor vehicles for 1 year following a period of license suspension.

Utah
§ 41-6a-505

.16

 

If the defendant had a BAC of .16 or higher, the court shall order the following (or describe on record why the order or orders are not appropriate): Treatment and one or both of (1) ignition interlock system as a condition of probation and (2) home confinement through the use of electronic monitoring.

Vermont
Tit. 23 § 1201

.16

 

Prohibits a person whose alcohol concentration is proven to be 0.16 or more from driving a motor vehicle for 3 years with a blood alcohol concentration is at a 0.02 or more.

Virginia
§ 18.2-270

.15, .20

 

First offense for BAC ≥ .15 but <.20: mandatory jail for 5 days; if BAC >.20: mandatory jail for 10 days.

 

In terms of victims receiving civil damages: “Willful or wanton behavior” may be shown by proving that, when the incident occurred, the defendant’s BAC/BrAC was ≥ .15, or the person consumed alcoholic beverages intending to operate a motor vehicle.

 

A driver previously convicted of driving with a BAC above 0.15 must not operate a vehicle with a BAC over 0.02 within three years of the previous violation. If a second time high BAC offender operates a vehicle with a BAC over 0.02, it will constitute a third high BAC DUI.

Washington
§ 46.61.5055

.15

 

An offense where the offender’s BAC/BrAC is ≥ .15: Mandatory minimum term of 2 days or, as an alternative, not less than 30 days of electronic home monitoring.

 

An offense where the offender’s BAC/BrAC is ≥ .15: mandatory minimum $500 fine and up to $5,000.

For a first offense with BAC ≥ .15: after the license suspension or revocation period, the court must require an offender to operate only motor vehicles that are equipped with an ignition interlock device. If there has been no previous ignition interlock use, the usage period is to be not less than 1 year.

West Virginia
§ 17C-5-2
 

.15

 

Installation of ignition interlock mandatory for an offender with a BAC of 0.15 or more.

Wisconsin
§346.65

.17

 

If an offender’s BAC was .17 to .199, the minimum and maximum fines are doubled.

If an offender’s BAC was 0.20 to 0.249, the minimum and maximum fines are tripled.

If an offender’s BAC was 0.25 or above, the minimum and maximum fines are quadrupled.

Normal fine for non-injury-related DWI first offence is $150 to $300.

Wyoming
§ 31-5-233
 

.15

 

First conviction: mandatory ignition interlock for 6 months

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2009. Updated 2015. The above abstracts state statutes/legislation. This report is the property of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and is intended as a reference for state legislators and their states. NCSL makes no warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for third party use of this information, or represents that its use by such third party would not infringe on privately owned rights.