You might think that you know about drunk driving laws in the United States. However, not all drunk driving laws are created the same. Drunk driving laws are unique to each state. Each state decides what qualifies as drunk driving and what the penalties should be for a violation. Here are five interesting drunk driving laws from around the United States:
Utah has a lower legal limit than the rest of the country
Even if alcohol doesn’t impact your ability to drive, you’re still breaking the law anytime you drive over the legal limit. In most states, the legal limit is .08 per 210 liters of breath. However, in Utah, lawmakers passed a law to lower the limit to .05.
The law’s supporters say that the law is good for public safety. They say that there’s evidence that shows drivers are impaired long before they reach a .08. Opponents say that the law may hurt tourism. While the law remains controversial, the fact remains that Utah has the lowest legal limit in the United States.
In Michigan, you can’t drink and drive a golf cart or a child’s toy car
Most states have a definition of a vehicle for drunk driving cases. In order to be a drunk driver, you must be in physical control of something that counts as a vehicle. In Michigan, that means any device that’s not propelled exclusively by human power.
Michigan law 257.79 defines a vehicle as it pertains to Michigan’s drunk driving laws. Any device that is or can be driven on a motorway in Michigan counts as a vehicle in Michigan. That means you can be a drunk driver in almost any kind of device you can think of. The only devices that don’t count as vehicles include things that are moved only by human power like bicycles.
In Colorado, there’s a legal limit for Marijuana
In most states, the only way to be over the legal limit is to have a certain amount of alcohol in your system. You can also be a drunk driver by driving under the influence of a drug like marijuana. Most states don’t set a legal limit that automatically makes you a drugged driver for marijuana.
Colorado is an exception. In Colorado, you’re a drunk driver any time you drive with more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of active marijuana in your system. It must be the active ingredient of marijuana that’s in your system and not the byproduct that doesn’t have any effect on you.
In New York, you can get a deal if you participate in drug court
The penalties for drunk driving can be harsh especially for repeat offenders. If you’re convicted of drunk driving, you face a lengthy suspension of your driver license, jail time, and fines. However, New York has specialty courts that try to tackle substance abuse problems and monitor offenders at the same time.
Drug court participants have extra court appearances during their term of probation. If you make it through, you can get a great plea deal with reduced penalties. In some cases, you can even use an at-home alcohol monitoring system like Soberlink in order to alcohol test at home.
In Hawaii, drunk drivers must get an ignition interlock device or lose their license for a year
Almost all states have some kind of mandatory license suspension for all drunk drivers. In Hawaii, the suspension for a first-time offender is one year. The only way to avoid the harsh penalty is to install an ignition interlock device in your car. At $89 per month, the ignition interlock is a pretty penny on top of court fines and costs for your conviction.
Know before You Go
Drunk driving laws are different throughout the United States. While the general idea is to keep dangerous drivers off the road, each state makes their own laws. Every state has their own rules for what it means to be a drunk driver, and each state has their own penalties and programs to punish and rehabilitate drunk drivers.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. You can find Dixie on Facebook.