Every state in the US has its own DUI laws, with some states having more strict DUI laws than others. Nonetheless, understanding the regulations is crucial for mounting a proper legal defense.

This article will explore which states have the least strict laws for driving under the influence. However, this topic does not suggest offenders automatically get away without consequences.

Understanding the nuances can help you appreciate how your DUI lawyer may approach your case. Wether it’s a first time DUI and you have questions about jail time, or this is a repeat offense. Read this article today for valuable insights.

North Dakota

North Dakota often ranks as one of the states with the least strict DUI laws in the country. First, the law does not have a minimum jail sentence or fine for first-time offenders. While judges can impose penalties as they see fit, the result is that penalties may vary widely.

Additionally, the state’s implied consent law is relatively forgiving. These regulations require drivers to submit to breathalyzer tests. Drivers in North Dakota who refuse only face a 91-day license suspension. However, for comparison, motorists in neighboring Minnesota face at least a one-year license suspension.

Lastly, North Dakota does not require an ignition interlock device for first-time offenders. They only issue this sentence when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above .18%. Many states have this requirement for a first DUI, regardless of how much they drank. Moreover, the threshold in many other parts of the country is 0.15% or lower.

South Dakota

South Dakota has also earned a reputation for having some of the least strict DUI laws. For example, they do not have mandatory jail sentences or fines for first-time offenders. This lack of direction means penalties are often at the judge’s discretion. In contrast, many other states have jail sentences and fines for a first DUI.

South Dakota also has a weak implied consent law. Individuals who refuse a breathalyzer test face at least a one-year license suspension. While this is still significant, it is lower than many other places in the country. Meanwhile, Montana drivers encounter a six-month (or more) license suspension.

South Dakota is another state that does not require an ignition interlock device for first-time offenders. They are only required for first-time offenders if their BAC is 0.17% or higher.


Several unique factors mean Wisconsin has some of the least strict DUI regulations. One notable feature is they are the only state without first-time OWI (operating while intoxicated) offenses. Instead, first-time lawbreakers receive a civil violation, which carries lower penalties. As a result, first-time offenders are not subject to potential jail time or probation.

Another factor is the relatively tolerant “look-back periods” for repeat offenses. Penalties for DUI offenses often become harsher with each violation, regardless of how far back they happened. In Wisconsin, however, penalties for repeat offenses only go back ten years or less. Consequently, prior convictions from more than a decade ago do not apply during sentencing.

In addition, Wisconsin does not have mandatory imprisonment for first DUI offenses. This lack of strict criminal penalties gives judges broad discretion. While this allows for greater flexibility, it can also result in significant variations and inconsistencies.


Montana is one of a few states that does not classify a first-time DUI as a crime. Instead, they treat them as civil violations, and therefore, they entail lower penalties. However, repeat DUI offenses are criminal offenses, and the penalties can become more severe.

Montana’s implied consent law is rather charitable as well. As mentioned above, drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test get at least a six-month license suspension. The state also only has a 24 hour mandatory jail sentence for DUI offenses.

Montana joins the other states on this list in not mandating ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders. Regardless, some counties can make them a condition of probation. This flexibility in governance means they are relatively more common than in other states.

Finally, Montana is the only state that allows the expungement of a DUI conviction. This leniency means that even repeat offenders can potentially have their convictions erased from their record.


Due to various factors, Pennsylvania joins this list of lenient DUI jurisdictions. Even if you have a high BAC, the state does not mandate ignition interlock devices for first-time DUIs. The courts only impose them for repeat offenders and other circumstances. This indulgent regulation implies that many drivers are not subject to the monitoring of other states.

Another factor contributing to Pennsylvania’s permissive DUI laws is its sentencing guidelines. There are no required sentences for first-time DUI convictions. Therefore, penalties for DUI offenses can deviate vastly depending on the judge. Furthermore, the fine is only $300 with a maximum of six months probation.

In Pennsylvania, drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test face a minimum one-year license suspension. Although this is longer than other entries in this article, it is still comparatively low.

Schedule a Consultation With a Local DUI Attorney

If you are facing a DUI charge, it is essential to seek the guidance of an experienced local attorney. No matter how strict or merciful the laws may be, they can advise you about your options. There are at least 5 ways attorneys or lawyers can beat DUI charges. They know it is necessary to minimize the impact of the charges and help you move forward in life.

To schedule a consultation with a local DUI attorney, contact us online today. If you prefer talking to a live representative, call us at (866) 345-6784!

State-Specific DUI Guides





























New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota







Washington, DC

West Virginia



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