When I saw this report yesterday, my first thought was, "now there's a distinction we could live without in our state!" But it is not the first time I have wondered about the number of DUI convictions people in South Dakota have received before they actually are made accountable.

Just a few years ago, a man was sentenced to only 6 months in jail for his eighth DUI. His 8th! I remember thinking then that our DUI penalties must be fairly lenient.

According to website DUI Driving Laws, a first offense DUI in South Dakota is a class 1 misdemeanor. First offenders could face- - a fine of up to $2,000, plus court costs, probation, suspended driver's license, (from 30 days to 1 year), being ordered into a substance abuse program and possible jail time (up to 1 year is possible, but there is no mandatory sentence for a 1st offense).

Interestingly enough, this study was done by a personal injury law firm, using information culled from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA), the Governors Highway Safety Administration, National Council of Legislatures, and the U.S. Census Bureau, among others.

They number-crunched DUI statistics from across the country, comparing numbers of injuries, fatalities, blood alcohol content (BAC) thresholds, jail time received, fines, license suspensions, etc. They also studied each state's legislation regarding drunk or impaired driving.

The Top 5 States with the Most Lenient DUI Laws & Penalties:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Wyoming
  3. New Mexico
  4. North Dakota
  5. Maryland

The Top 5 Staes with the Toughest DUI Laws & Penalties:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Utah
  3. Georgia
  4. Delaware
  5. Kansas

For more information and to see the complete study see Siegfried & Jensen online.

Sources: Siegried & Jensen Law Firm, DUI Driving Laws