Many states claim to have a tough stance on driving under the influence. But how many “walk the walk” instead of “talk the talk? A DUI is a grave offense in many, if not most jurisdictions, but nowhere more so than in these locations.

Which States Have the Most Strict DUI Laws?

In general if you are facing a DUI, you may want to familiarize yourself with local law, or learn about 5 ways that lawyers beat DUI charges.

But if you live in one of the five states listed below, be aware that your state government has passed the most strict DUI laws and penalties in the United States. If you or a loved one is facing charges, contact us right now.

Even in states with less strict DUI laws, the help of a DUI lawyer is critical. However hiring a zealous, dedicated, and knowledgeable criminal attorney is even more crucial in the stricter states. Discover why by reading this guide in detail today.


The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety describes the stringent DUI laws in the state. The punishments can escalate quickly, and there is even an open container fine of $200. A first-time DUI offense can result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 24 hours, fines, and more.

Additionally, a second-time offender within five years of a previous conviction can face these penalties:

  • Minimum of 48 hours in jail that may escalate to 90 days – 1 year
  • Mandatory clinical evaluation
  • 3-year license suspension
  • $600 – $1,000 fine

Georgia’s DUI laws expand significantly upon a third conviction in five years. To start, drivers must forfeit their license plates to the court system. Additionally, the judge orders the following as part of the sentencing:

  • A minimum of 15 days in jail that may escalate based on the circumstances
  • Mandatory clinical evaluation and treatment
  • 5-year license revocation
  • $1,000 to $5,000 fine
  • Publication of the offender’s name, address, and photo in a local newspaper
  • A mandatory minimum of serving 30 days of community service


First-time DUI offenses in Utah can result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 48 hours. Furthermore, the current legal code calls for an automatic four-month license suspension. Community service, probation, and other typical penalties apply as well.

Utah’s DUI laws are also unique because they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.05%. This policy has made national news for its astounding effectiveness. CNN reported in 2022 that it contributed to a 20% drop in alcohol-related deaths and injuries.

Finally, Utah has strict sentencing guidelines for underage DUIs. The license suspension periods are as follows, and they double for a second or subsequent conviction:

  • 120 days for a per-se arrest
  • 18-month administrative suspension for refusing a chemical test
  • 18-month suspension for a conviction of refusing a chemical test


A first-time driving under the influence conviction in Alaska results in a mandatory jail sentence of 3 days. But the punishment the state gives to your wallet is even more unforgiving. According to the Division of Motor Vehicles, the average cost for your first is $24,265. The most significant contributors to this total are:

  • $5,000 for a change of plea
  • $3,500 – $5,000+ for court fees
  • $1,500 for court fines
  • $1,300 for an ignition interlock device
  • $500 for vehicle impounding
  • $330 for 3 days in jail

Alaska also has a noteworthy “lookback” period of 15 years. This regulation means prior DUI convictions can count toward penalties for new offenses.


A first-time DUI offense in Colorado can result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days. However, you could spend up to one year in lockup. For instance, a BAC above .15% automatically invites more substantial sanctions.

Colorado was also among the first states to implement a felony DUI law. Consequently, certain DUI offenses can result in felonies and more severe penalties. These more severe penalties tend to start with a third conviction, which includes the following sentencing guidelines:

  • 2 – 6 year prison sentence
  • 3 years on parole
  • 48 – 120 hours of mandatory community service

Also, it is worth noting that these figures do not include court fees, fines, and other costs. The bills for an ignition interlock device or a mandatory trip to rehab can cost thousands of dollars.


Arizona has also taken a hardline stance against drunk driving, implementing strict penalties to deter DUIs. A first-time offense can result in a minimum jail sentence of 10 days and at least a $1,250 fine. This punishment is longer and more expensive than most of the country.

Additionally, drivers can face felonies if they have prior convictions or their BAC is exceptionally high (above .15%). ADOT refers to these situations as extreme DUIs. The minimum penalties for these circumstances are:

  • 30 consecutive days in prison with a minimum $2,500 fine for a first DUI
  • 120 consecutive days in prison with a minimum $3,250 fine and license suspension for a second or subsequent conviction

Additionally, Arizona commits to reducing drunk driving incidents through strict legislation and enforcement. While the penalties may seem harsh, they send a message that driving under the influence is not tolerable. Considering their stances, it is not surprising they were among the first states to mandate ignition interlock devices.

Hire a Local DUI Lawyer

Did this article help answer your question which states have the most strict DUI laws? While these states represent the most strict jurisdictions, the consequences are still no less devastating in others. In addition, judges in these jurisdictions often have significant leeway and can use their discretion for sentencing. If you do not have a proper DUI attorney, your life could change drastically and irrevocably.

Legal representation is a fundamental right in America. If you or a loved one need an advocate, complete our online form to request a consultation. You can also call (866) 345-6784 to speak with one of our representatives.

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