Driving under the influence in Alabama can lead to a series of legal consequences. A suspended license, points on a driving record, hefty fines, and jail time are a few of the possible penalties for DUI misdemeanors and felonies. If you have been charged with a DUI, you will need the help of a Birmingham DUI lawyer who can make sure your rights are protected as they work to build the strongest defense possible.
Alabama takes driving under the influence charges seriously meaning that if you have been charged with a DUI, you will need the help of an experienced Birmingham DUI lawyer who can make sure your rights are protected from the moment you are arrested, and through trial, if necessary. To get started building a defense for your case, consult with an established defense attorney today.
When a driver is stopped by law enforcement for a suspected DUI, the officer will ask the driver to perform tests to determine their level of intoxication and officers may also require the driver to submit a chemical test to measure their blood alcohol content (BAC). The BAC limit under Alabama law is 0.08%, and any driver with a BAC of 0.08% or above will automatically be charged with a DUI offense. Minors can be charged with DUI with a BAC of as little as 0.02% and commercial drivers may not legally drive with a BAC of more than 0.04%.
The BAC limit of 0.08% is considered a guideline under Alabama law, but not a threshold. Drivers may be charged with a DUI offense even if their BAC is less than the legal limit, so long as the arresting officer is reasonable in believing the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. A Birmingham DUI lawyer should be contacted as soon as possible in order for a person facing charges to understand their rights from the beginning of their case.
The DUI penalties in Alabama depend on whether the conviction is a first offense or a subsequent offense, or occurs while on probation. A first-time DUI is punishable by up to $2,100 and a 90-day driver’s license suspension. A second DUI offense carries a penalty of up to $5,100 and five days in jail, with drivers potentially losing their licenses for up to one year.
Third and fourth DUIs within a so-called “look-back” period of five years are punishable by significant jail time – between 60 days and one year in jail – a license loss between three to five years, and fines of up to $10,000. All drivers – including first-time offenders – convicted of DUI must attend a mandatory court-ordered substance abuse program.
Causes for Concern
A DUI charge in Alabama is a daunting process to begin with, on top of which the penalties are severe even on a first offense. On a first offense DUI, an individual can technically face up to one year in the city or county jail. Any subsequent conviction of the same offense includes a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 5 days to 60 days.
If an individual is convicted, they will receive a permanent mark on their criminal record. In addition, DUI convictions are publicized in the local community and around the state so there is a social stigma attached. These are just some of the reasons to retain a Birmingham DUI lawyer, in order to ward off the charges and potentially avoid some of the aforementioned penalties.
Ignition Interlock Requirements
Another reason such a charge in Alabama is so intimidating is the impact to an individual’s driver’s license. On a first offense, a person could be facing up to a 90-day license suspension along with up to two years of having to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. With subsequent offenses, the suspension time could be up to five years with ignition interlock.
While most DUI convictions in Alabama do not require ignition interlock devices, which act as a breathalyzer for an individual’s vehicle, drivers who registered high BAC levels – 0.15% or higher – must allow the installation of an interlock device.
This mandate also applies to drivers who caused accidents while under the influence, those who refused a BAC blood test, or those who committed the DUI offense with a child in the vehicle.
Contacting a DUI Attorney
There are many potential DUI defenses available to Alabama defendants. A DUI attorney in Birmingham will want to look into whether the breathalyzer equipment was working properly, whether any blood samples or other evidence was collected, and was handled and transported appropriately when determining that a driver may have been under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
Whether you have never so much as been pulled over before, or you have a history of prior drug or alcohol-related driving convictions, your Birmingham DUI lawyer will fight to have any unfair charges against you reduced or dismissed.