Alcohol Impaired Driving

All states but Utah define driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08% as a crime, and specific laws and penalties vary substantially from state to state. Effective December 30, 2018, Utah’s BAC is set at 0.05.%

44 states, D.C. and Guam have increased penalties for drivers convicted at higher BACs (specific levels and penalties vary by state).

48 states, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands have administrative license suspension (ALS) on the first offense. ALS allows law enforcement to confiscate a driver's license for a period of time if he fails a chemical test. Most of these states allow limited driving privileges (such as to/from work).

All states have some type of ignition interlock program, in which judges require all or some convicted drunk drivers to install interlocks in their cars to disable the engine if alcohol is detected on their breath. 31 states* (and four California counties) have made ignition interlocks mandatory or highly incentivized for all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders. 7 states require them for repeat offenders; and 8 states for both high BAC and repeat offenders. The remaining 4 states make interlocks discretionary.
*We defer to our State Highway Safety Office members' interpretation of the law. Some groups may have a higher count.

Drunk Driving Law Chart
Law Chart

Federal law mandates that states adopt open container and repeat offender laws meeting specific requirements. Otherwise, a portion of the state's surface transportation funding is transferred to the state DOT or State Highway Safety Office. 38 states, D.C. and 3 territories have open container laws which meet federal requirements. 33 states, D.C. and 3 territories have repeat offender laws which meet federal requirements.

A PDF chart of state drunk driving laws is available for download here.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on drunk driving laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol ProblemsInsurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Short Term Description
All states but Utah define driving with a BAC at or above 0.08% as a crime, and specific laws and penalties vary substantially from state to state. Beginning in 2019, Utah’s BAC is set at 0.05%.

“Hands Across the Border” DUI Prevention Campaign Returns

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“Hands Across the Border” DUI Prevention Campaign Returns

Story by Robert Hydrick
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As Drivers Return to the Roadways, Seven States Receive Grants to Stop High Risk Impaired Driving

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2020

CONTACT: Adrian Nicholas, 202-580-7934, anicholas@ghsa.org

GHSA & Responsibility.org to Award $245,000 in Highway Safety Grants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the sixth consecutive year, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) are awarding grants to help states keep Americans safe from the most dangerous impaired drivers.

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As driving begins to return to normal levels across the country after months of lockdown, motorists may fall back into bad driving habits. Even though drivers know that their risky behavior is wrong, many do it anyway, particularly those involved in a recent crash.

Dangerous Driving Habits at Risk of Returning, Safety Group Warns

Story by Tanya Mohn
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