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.
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.
Traffic fatalities in New Jersey are higher than they were this time last year and on a deadly trend to finish 2020 with more deaths than last year, despite a drop in traffic earlier in the year, due to the coronavirus.
Halloween is just around the corner, and with it comes adult parties, adult beverages and unfortunately, impaired drivers and pedestrians. Mixing impaired drivers with the increased pedestrian traffic accompanying trick or treating leads to tragic but predictable results.
Nevada’s Zero Fatalities program has launched its “Worst Year Ever” campaign, in an effort to remind Nevadans while much of 2020 has been out of their control, the way they act on the roads is not out of their control.
The release of new data and special reports from NHTSA, one of the deepest analyses to date of driver behavior during the pandemic, provides some good news for traffic safety but also cause for significant concern about road user behavior during the public health emergency.