Third-Offense DUI in Birmingham
Birmingham third-offense DUI cases can either be prosecuted in a municipal court or in the state court depending on what agency made the arrest. If it was a municipal officer, the case will be docketed or scheduled in a municipal court. If the case involves a county or state officer or trooper, the case will be docketed in what is called the district court of the county. Third offense DUI charges are prosecuted aggressively and vigorously, more so than first and second offenses. The minimum mandatory sentence for a third offense for impaired driving is 60 days if convicted.
A Birmingham third-offense DUI lawyer can help advise you of the most appropriate defense for you based on the facts of your case. A distinguished DUI lawyer can discuss the best options for your future when working by your side.Third-Offense Penalties
In Alabama, there is a recidivist statute or a DUI statute, meaning the more prior convictions an individual has, the worse the penalties to come. On a third offense DUI in Alabama, an individual faces a minimum mandatory fine of $2,100 up to a maximum of $10,100.
There is a minimum 60 days an individual must serve in jail up to one year, a driver’s license revocation of three years, and then an ignition interlock installation with a minimum period of three years. However, an individual can substitute out part of that time after 180 days before they would still the DUI program or court referral, which includes DUI classes and random drug and alcohol testing.
In Alabama, to be charged with a felony driving under the influence charge, an individual must have three prior convictions within a five-year period. A Birmingham Third-Offense DUI is still considered a misdemeanor and would stay a misdemeanor and be prosecuted that way. An individual would have to have three prior convictions within a five-year period to be deemed a felony.Time Between Charges (Look Back Period)
The timing between DUI convictions is crucial in Alabama because there is a ten-year look back period, meaning the number of prior convictions only count if they occurred within ten years from the sentencing date on the new charge.
Even though an individual’s case might begin with having had two or prior convictions within a ten-year period, a Birmingham Third-Offense DUI Lawyer might be able to keep the case up in the air long enough for one or some, if not all, of the person’s prior convictions to time out and therefore the individual would be able to reduce the range and penalties that they are currently facing.Diversion Programs or Probation
The more prior convictions a person has, the less likely they would be offered any type of pretrial diversion program for a dismissal. When facing these charges, it may be vital to an individual’s future to contact a Birmingham Third-Offense DUI Lawyer.
Probation is not an option in its entirety on a third-offense because there is a minimum 60 days that a person must serve in jail. However, the balance of any sentence could be probated over a two-year period but if the person is convicted on a third-offense in Alabama, then the court must sentence him or her to serve 60 days in city jail.
There is an attorney general’s opinion that allows the court to split that center, meaning that an individual does not have to serve it all at one time. They could have it divided out maybe to 30 weekends in a row so an individual could continue to work. However, that is something a lawyer would have to negotiate with the prosecution that is signed off on by the judge.Ten-Year Look Back Period
The ten-year look back period only applies to mandatory sentence enhancements. However, from a discretionary standpoint, the prosecution or the judge can look at the defendant’s record over a lifetime and take any of their past convictions into consideration. This is true no matter how long ago the individual was convicted of the prior charges.
There can be a scenario where someone is charged with a DUI for the first time after 10 years has passed since their last conviction, and if they plead guilty, the court can use their record to elevate their sentence within the first-time penalty range.
Even on a first-time DUI, an individual can face up to a one-year jail sentence. The courts could then use a person’s prior convictions, which may be outside of that ten-year range, to give them an elevated sentence. The prosecution could also use prior convictions that are outside of ten years to refuse negotiations or the discussion of any diversionary program.Aggravating Factors
The main aggravating factor that raises a DUI to a third offense is the number of prior convictions a person has within a ten-year period. They must have two prior convictions within ten years to make a third offense DUI.
However, even on a first-time DUI, going up the ladder from a first to a second and second to a third, there are other aggravating factors besides prior convictions in play. These include having a child in the car under the age of 14, an accident being involved, an injury, having a breath test of a 0.15 or higher, or a refusal of the breath test.
Having a breath test of 0.15 or higher doubles the minimum sentence. On a third offense, it would double the jail time from 60 days to 120 days as well as the minimum fine amount from $2,100 to $4,200. Certainly, there are aggravating circumstances that could increase the already aggravated penalties on a third-time offense in Alabama.