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States are not equal in dealing with drunk driving

New York state has strict laws against drunk driving, but about half the country has stricter penalties. New York ranked 24th in drunk driving penalties in a ranking of the strictest DUI states in the country. The ranking, which includes all 50 states and Washington, D.C., was contained in a study recently released by a consumer finance website.

Arizona is the strictest state in the country according to the analysis, while South Dakota is the most lenient. The analysis considered several factors in coming up with the rankings, including drunk driving penalties, whether or not there is a minimum sentence upon conviction and drunk driving prevention measures. Though South Dakota ranked 51st overall in strictness, a few other states ranked lower in penalties. Maryland and Wisconsin tied for the most lenient penalties in the nation.

New York ranked 30th overall, coming in at 35th for prevention and 24th for penalties. New York has no minimum sentence for a first or second drunk driving offense, but a second offense is considered a felony. By comparison, the three top ranked states have minimum jail time of up to 10 days for a first offense. Politically, the analysis showed that on average, states that went red or Republican in the 2012 presidential election are tougher on drunk driving than those that went blue or Democratic.

The legal blood alcohol limit in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is .08 percent. A test that registers blood alcohol content at or above the legal limit does not necessary establish that the driver is guilty of drunk driving, however. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can attempt to show that the machine was calibrated erroneously or that the test itself was administered by someone who was not qualified to do so.

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