Jalen Rose's DUI: Not a Crime, No Jail in Wisc.

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 02, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jalen Rose's DUI made headlines not only because Rose is a former NBA star and an ESPN analyst, but also because of the 20-day jail sentence that was handed down against Rose. The 20-day sentence illustrated how much variation there are in state DUI laws.

Rose was arrested last March after he crashed his car in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He pled guilty to drunk driving, and his blood-alcohol content at the time was over the legal limit.

Judge Kimberly Small sentenced Rose to 20 days in county jail. It was Rose's first offense, and he otherwise has a clean driving record, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Was what Judge Small did outside the law? It wasn't. In Michigan, a person can be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail for their first drunk driving offense, though the typical sentence is usually 1 day in jail with mandatory community service, reports USA Today.

And, drunk driving statutes vary widely from state-to-state. Many aspects of DUI law are completely different depending on which jurisdiction you're in, ranging from what blood-alcohol content is considered above the legal limit to what penalties should be imposed.

For example, in Wisconsin, drunk driving is not even a crime if it is the first offense. So, if Jalen Rose had gotten a DUI in Wisconsin, he would be facing no jail time, and no criminal penalties, reports USA Today.

What can citizens make of the disparity in punishments and elements of state DUI laws? Well, to avoid any DUI-related punishments (and to maintain the safety of the roads) in the first place, drivers shouldn't be drinking and driving at all.

But, as Jalen Rose's DUI illustrates, state DUI laws are varied - and judge's impositions of sentences are also varied. Even if 1 day of jail is typical in most first-time DUI offenses in Michigan, judges generally have the discretion to impose higher sentences.

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