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New report ranks the 50 states by severity of drunk driving laws

While statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that drunk driving fatalities here in the U.S. have fallen by a remarkable 52 percent from 1982 to 2013, impaired driving nevertheless remains one of the single greatest dangers facing motorists today.

By way of illustration, consider that the NHTSA statistics also reveal that in 2012 alone drunk driving was the cause of 31 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities and almost $60 billion in economic losses.

This naturally begs the question as to whether the individual states are doing enough to keep motorists safe.

Interestingly, the financial information website WalletHub recently published a report ranking the 50 states in terms of which had the most stringent drunk driving laws and which had the most lenient drunk driving laws.

The methodology for the ranking system consisted of researchers identifying 15 key metrics and awarding the states more points for taking a more draconian stance. For instance, a state that calls for a minimum of 10 days in jail for a first drunk driving offense received 10 points, while a state that calls for up to one day in jail for a first drunk driving offense received no points.

The rankings revealed that the state with the strongest drunk driving laws was Arizona, while the state with the weakest drunk driving laws was South Dakota. As for South Carolina, we came in at number 20 on the list.

Some of the more notable aspects of the Palmetto State's drunk driving laws include:

  • Mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices for all repeat offenders and those first-time offenders whose blood alcohol content was .15 or higher
  • Vehicle impound/confiscation laws
  • Administrative license suspension

While it's encouraging to see that South Carolina didn't fall into the lower half of the rankings, the report shows that our lawmakers must still do more to protect motorists from life-altering and often tragic drunk driving accidents

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