Driving under the influence is against the law in all 50 states, but the punishments are not federally mandated. DUI is a crime, and if your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, you are considered intoxicated. Each state is mandated to have an open container law, as well as laws that determine how to handle repeat offenders. Depending on the state you live in, you may face a license suspension, a fine, and jail time, even for your first offense.
Driving is a Right, Not a Privilege
The reason your driver's license can be suspended if you refuse a chemical test of your blood or breath is because driving is a right. When you obtained your license, you signed paperwork stating that if you are pulled over under the suspicion of driving intoxicated you will agree to take a chemical test. You agreed, by getting your license, that if you refuse to take this test you will lose your license for a set period of time. If you refuse the test in California, you will automatically lose your license for one year.
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Montana Are Lenient On Drunk Drivers
Three of the most lax states when it comes to drunk driving include Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Montana. In Rhode Island, officers have no way to enforce a refusal of a sobriety test, so drivers that refuse are often back on the road immediately. In Montana, there is no mandated suspension of your driver's license, when you are convicted of a DUI for the first offense. Repeat offenders get the least punishment in Montana, and no matter how many times you are convicted of a DUI in Montana it never rises to the level of a felony like in most other US states. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also have no minimum license suspension for the first time offender.
Washington State is Tough On Drunk Driving
In Washington State, refusal to take the breathalyzer test results in a license revocation for one year, even if you are not found guilty. If you take the test and the results are .08 BAC or higher, your license is automatically suspended for at least 90 days. The judge also can put you in jail for a year for a first offense in Washington and fine you up to $5,000, a stark difference from states such as Rhode Island. If you have been arraigned on charges that you were driving under the influence in Washington, it is best to hire an attorney to discuss your options.
What is important to know in Washington, if you are facing a DUI conviction, there are penalties beyond the administrative suspension of your license if you are found guilty. If you are convicted of a DUI in Washington, your license is suspended for 90 days if your BAC was under .15% and for one year if it is over .15%. You will lose your license for two years if convicted after refusing a breathalyzer.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, learn about your rights by contacting us today.