A 49-year-old man from Florence recently pleaded guilty to his 18th DUI charge, sending him to prison for eight years, the Times Daily reports.
While racking up 18 DUI convictions is outrageous and sad for the person facing all those charges and now time in prison, the story shows the importance of fighting even one DUI charge. According to Alabama Code 32-5A-191, the penalties for a first-time DUI offense in Alabama can include jail time, fines and fees and other sanctions. But as a driver faces more and more charges, the penalties increase. This is why consulting with Birmingham DUI Lawyers as soon as possible should be your first step.
According to the news article, the man was arrested March 11 in Florence and charged with DUI. According to his criminal history record, it was the 18th time he has faced the charge. In Alabama, a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction is considered a Class C felony and is punishable by a year and a day in prison.
Because the man was serving time on probation for a 2004 DUI charge that he pleaded guilty to in 2006, his most recent DUI conviction was coupled with the violation probation to send him to prison for eight years.
In Alabama, a first, second or third DUI conviction is a misdemeanor. But while it isn't considered as serious as a felony, a DUI charge is punishable by tougher penalties than most misdemeanors. For instance, most misdemeanor convictions simply require a person to serve time in jail or on probation. But consider the penalties for just a first-time DUI conviction in Alabama:
-Up to 1 year in jail
-Fines of $600 to $2,100
-90-day driver's license suspension
-DUI school or substance abuse program completion
-Ignition Interlock Device under certain circumstances
As you can see, there are more penalties than a typical misdemeanor charge. But as the law states, the penalties for subsequent convictions are more stringent. The mandatory jail time increases, the fines get higher and the length of a driver's license suspension increases as well.
And that's why treating a DUI charge, even a first-time misdemeanor, as a serious crime is crucial. Simply being arrested for this charge can bring public ridicule, loss of a job, disqualification for scholarships and college admission for teens and other harsh non-court system penalties. Of course, no one plans to get charged with drunk driving once, let alone repeatedly. Yet too often motorists are naive when it comes to the criminal justice system. Having a drunk driving conviction on your record is a real good way to be stopped, questioned and charged again. Veteran criminals will often choose jail time over attempting to comply with terms of probation. Dealing with the system is no joke and sometimes it spits you out the other end with 18 drunk driving convictions.
And so working to clear your name and keep this charge off your record should be your first priority. Our firm fights DUI in Birmingham and throughout Alabama every day. And as the law lays out, fighting these charges aggressively early on can save a lot of money, heartache and frustration in the future.
Many inexperienced lawyers will tell clients to settle for the first plea offer made by the state. Sometimes the best offer comes first, but it's rare. It takes time and effort to rip through the state's evidence and convince a prosecutor to either drop charges or offer a plea deal to a less-serious charge in order to best benefit the defendant. Don't settle for a lawyer who isn't seasoned and knowledgeable when it comes to standing up for your rights in the courtroom.
More Blog Entries:
Mobile Man Picks up Fourth DUI Charge, Faces Tough Penalties, July 5, 2011
After 18 DUIs, it's prison, by Dennis Sherer, Times Daily