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Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.
It may seem odd, but a DUI in Maryland isn't the same as a DUI in Pennsylvania. And a fourth offense in Kentucky might be treated differently than a fourth offense in Colorado. State DUI laws can vary, and they're subject to change from year to year.
Here's a look at some recent changes to state DUI laws and what they could mean for your DUI case.
1. Colorado's Felony DUI Law
Rocky Mountain residents seemed pleased that the state finally made a fourth DUI conviction a felony. They seem less pleased that the new law still leads to a wide variance in sentencing, including 22 percent of 4-time DUI convicts serving no jail time at all.
2. Kentucky's Felony DUI Law
The Bluegrass State also toughened up its law regarding repeat offenders, by allowing courts to look further back in time for prior convictions. The old Kentucky law counted DUIs for five years, but the new "look-back" period is now a decade and has caught some DUI defendants (and their lawyers) off-guard.
3. Maryland's IID Law
Just about every state will require repeat DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their car. IIDs measure a driver's blood alcohol content before he or she can start the car (and, in some cases, keep it from turning off). In October, Maryland is joining 27 other states in requiring IIDs after a person's first DUI offense. (Pennsylvania is also joining this group in 2017.)
4. Tennessee's Juvenile DUI Law
The Volunteer State had to volunteer up some revisions to a recent juvenile DUI law, lest it lose out on some $60 million in federal funding. The old new law set the maximum allowable BAC for drivers under 21 at .08, which was in conflict with the federal zero tolerance law, which sets the bar for those drivers at .02. Tennessee lawmakers amended the law just in time.
5. New Hampshire's Restricted License Law
Bucking the trend in stiffer DUI penalties, New Hampshire will finally start letting first-time DUI offenders to get a "limited privilege" license to allow them to drive to work, school, and medical appointments. The restricted license is contingent on court approval and installation of an interlock device in the car.
DUI statutes are always changing. For the best information about DUI laws where you live, contact an experienced DUI attorney near you.