DUI & DWI Penalties State by State

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have per se laws defining it as a crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a proscribed level, 0.08 percent.

License suspension or revocation traditionally follows conviction for alcohol-impaired driving. Under a procedure called administrative license suspension, licenses are taken before conviction when a driver fails or refuses to take a chemical test. Because administrative license suspension laws are independent of criminal procedures and are invoked right after arrest, they’ve been found to be more effective than traditional post-conviction sanctions. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have administrative license suspension laws.

Forty-five states permit some offenders to drive only if their vehicles have been equipped with ignition interlocks. These devices analyze a driver’s breath and disable the ignition if the driver has been drinking.

In 30 states, multiple offenders may forfeit vehicles that are driven while impaired by alcohol.

Forty-three states and Washington D.C. have laws prohibiting the driver, passengers or both from possessing an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.


  1. Drivers usually must demonstrate special hardship to justify restoring privileges during suspension, and then privileges often are restricted.
  2. First offender pilot program in 4 counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare.
  3. Interlock is mandatory unless waived due to financial hardship.
  4. In New York, administrative license suspension lasts until prosecution is complete.
  5. In Texas, an interlock is mandatory for first offense high-BAC as a condition of suspending the jail sentence.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

DUI, DWI, & SR22 Questions and information:


This information is provided by FR44 & SR22 Experts, LLC as a courtesy and convenience to all who are affected by, or provide help to those in trouble by a drunk driving arrest, Driving under the influence and require an SR22 filing. The events following a DUI/DWI are stressful and intimidating.

Our purpose is to outline and define most of the relevant terms and requirements that face a person after a DUI arrest. This information is designed to be helpful not only to the DUI offender, but also to the counselors and staff personnel helping DUI offenders get back on their feet.

How We Got Here

Most DUI/DWI offenders are people who made mistakes in judgment. Several beers, a couple of drinks,or a glass or two of wine are enough to become legally intoxicated in most states. We usually dont think these drinks affect us, but the law says we are impaired when our blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08 percent.

The offender may have been pulled over for a tail light being out, a rolling stop, or speeding. The officer may have smelled alcohol, noticed some slurring of speech, or had some other reason to suspect you had been drinking. This gave the officer reasonable cause to conduct field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test.

Although rare, a person can get a DUI while not operating a vehicle. People have been convicted of drunk driving because they were seated in a vehicle for which they had the keys. This is called physical control of a vehicle.

The cost, embarrassment, and inconvenience caused by the incident create painful memories. However, there is hope. Soon these memories will fade, and the important lessons from this unfortunate occurrence will be learned.

What Happens Now?

Most laws mandate that the DUI/DWI offender report to court or their state licensing authority (DMV, DPS, DOL, etc.) within a period of 30 days. They will be required to attend an alcohol school or similar curriculum.

Be aware that there may be a deadline for calling the DMV to request a hearing on the suspension and to get an extension of the temporary license. For example, California has a 10-day deadline.

At the licensing hearing, only a limited number of issues may be considered:

  • Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe the driver had an illegally high BAC?
  • The driver was arrested (or “lawfully detained” if age 21 or less).
  • The driver refused a chemical test or a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test.
  • The driver was informed that a refusal would result in suspension or revocation.

You have the right to consult a lawyer, particularly if you feel that proper law enforcement procedureswere not followed. If this is necessary, it is best to hire an attorney that specializes in DUI/DWI defense.

What the Law Says

If valid grounds exist (the offender was driving and the BAC test was .08 percent or more according to the officer’s report), most vehicle codes mandate a suspension of up to four months. If there are prior convictions within the past 10 years, the suspension can be up to one year.

Licensed offenders are then served with a state order of suspension or revocation which serves as a 30-day license. The suspension or revocation takes effect in 30 days.

The license will probably be suspended for a minimum period of time. After the mandatory hard suspension, the offender may then get a temporary or restricted license to go to and from work and the alcohol program you have been assigned.

How Do I Get My License Back?

To get a restricted license after being arrested for a DUI, you have to do three things for your state licensing authority:

  1. Show proof of enrollment in an approved DUI program.
  2. Show proof of financial responsibility (SR-22).
  3. Pay the re-issue fee to your state licensing authority (DMV, DPS, DOL, etc).

Again, the laws of the state and the local customs vary according. A conviction for a first offense may involve a fine, a license suspension or restriction, attendance at a DUI education course for a period of time, probation for perhaps three years, community service, ignition interlock devices, AA meetings and/or impounding of the vehicle. A short jail sentence may or may not be required; for a second offense, it almost certainly will.

Proof of insurance (financial responsibility) must be maintained for a period of up to three years (from the date the original four-month suspension would have been up). After you have enrolled in, or completed, the DUI education course, and your suspension terms are met, the process of selecting an insurance agent for the SR-22 insurance begins. Proof of insurance WILL stay active (and you need not re-submit an SR-22) if you do not cancel the policy or get dropped during the three-year period.

What Happens if My Insurance and SR-22 Cancel?

The insurance policy and the SR-22 must remain in effect for three years. If, for any reason, your policy is no longer in effect, the insurance carrier is REQUIRED to notify your state licensing authority (DMV, DPS, DOL, etc.) and your license may be suspended automatically!

Remember, the insurance company that issued your SR-22 is required to notify the state if your SR-22 insurance cancels for any reason. If you have not provided the state with a new SR-22 certificate, the state will assume you are no longer in compliance with the law, and will suspend your legal driving privileges.

Driving While My License is Suspended

If you are pulled over while driving with a suspended license, vehicle codes authorize tow enforcement agencies to tow and impound vehicles for 30 days when driven by unlicensed, suspended, or revoked drivers. There is a possibility that the vehicle could be forfeited (taken from you by the state) if you have a prior conviction for driving while unlicensed, or with a suspended or revoked license.


What the State Requires

All states have laws determining the minimum or lowest insurance limits that are acceptable. These usually are the coverages that accompany the SR-22. For example, California’s minimum limits are 15/30/5:

  • 15 represents $15,000 Bodily Injury Liability per person.
  • 30 represents $30,000 Bodily Injury Liability per accident (more than one person injured).
  • 5 represents $5,000 Property Damage Liability per accident.

Liability Insurance is protection from the cost of a lawsuit. You should always be able to buy higher limits of protection from the company providing your SR-22.


How Long Will I Be Punished for My DUI?

Court-ordered probation for DUI offenders usually lasts three to five years. During probation, offenders must keep insurance and an SR-22 on file for three years, and must not:

  • Commit any criminal offense.
  • Drive with any measurable alcohol in their blood.
  • Refuse to submit to a chemical test upon request.
  • Fail to pay a fine, assessment or restitution.

How Does a DUI Affect SR-22 Insurance Rates?

Your insurance rates are determined by many factors: age, marital status, driving experience, driving history, and where you live. The SR-22 is only a certificate that proves you have met the state’s financial responsibility (proof of insurance) requirements. Many insurance companies will not insure SR-22 clients and those companies that insure this type of driver (like FR44 & SR22 Experts, LLC) may have slightly higher rates. Generally, insurance rates can increase approximately 30%-40% from similar insurance with a safe driver insurance company.

FR44 & SR22 Experts, LLC is a full service insurance agency, primarily focused on serving the specialized insurance needs for drivers with alcohol related offenses. Whether you are a high risk driver required to file a SR-22 or a preferred driver looking for affordable car insurance rates, FR44 & SR22 Experts, LLC Insurance can help.