Report Rates All States on How They Fight Drunk Driving

states fight drunk drivingWe’ll end the suspense right away: South Dakota is doing the worst job, and Arizona the best at discouraging drunk driving. At least, those are the calculations of WalletHub, a website dedicated to financial matters. Every year the site tracks the laws of every state to see which ones fight drunk driving through tough laws, and which ones are falling down on the job. Recently the site has come out with its yearly report on Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI.

How Best to Fight Drunk Driving?

No one law will makes a state successful at keeping drunk drivers off the roads. It takes a full suite of punishment and prevention. WalletHub assigned points to various measures and tallied up the points to find the winners. Some of the criteria were:


Minimum Jail Time. A state got 10 points for sending first-time DUI offenders to jail for at least 10 days. For a second offense, a state would have to impose a 60-day sentence to get top marks.

Felony DUI. How many DUIs does a person have to get before theirs is given felony status, which means stiffer fines and punishments? A few states do it for the second offense, most third, and other states are even more lenient on multiple offenders.

High BAC penalties. If you’re super drunk, you should pay a greater price, says WalletHub. Some states consider a blood alcohol concentration of .10 enough for an extra slap. For others, it’s .15 or .16.

Minimum Fines. How much for a first offense? Under $200? No points. Over $1,000? You get the prize. For second offenses, double those numbers.


Ignition Interlock. Of course an ignition interlock, a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, is a critical prevention measure. States got top points for making  an ignition interlock mandatory for a first conviction. More points are awarded for longer ignition interlock terms – at least 6 months is best.

Administrative License Suspension. If a state suspends your license upon arrest, rather than upon conviction, you’re in the winner’s circle.  The longer the suspension (120 days or more is best) the more points awarded.

Vehicle Impound After Arrest. This measure, not discussed often enough, is considered by WalletHub to be worthy of consideration when ranking anti-DUI measures.

The Winners and Losers

The five states that do the best job of fighting drunk driving, according to WalletHub, are

  • Arizona (84.09%)
  • Georgia (70.45%)
  • Alaska (65%)
  • Kansas (64.09%)
  • Oklahoma (64.09%)

The states which have the farthest to go (to put it kindly) are:

  • South Dakota (20.45%)
  • District of Columbia (22.27%)
  • Ohio (28.64%)
  • North Dakota (29.55%)
  • Idaho (29.55%)

All is Not Lost (or Won)

Keep in mind that a state might have a generally good ranking and be behind in one area. For instance, Georgia is second nationally in criminal penalties, but number 19 in prevention. On the other hand, Maryland ranks dead last in penalties, but is ninth overall in prevention. That is the reason that the states’ DUI crash statistics are not exactly in line with these rankings. New Jersey (45) is not enduring a bloodbath, and Texas (15) still has very high numbers of alcohol-related crash deaths.

We salute WalletHub for keeping us aware of how we’re doing as a nation in fighting this very preventable crime.