There are three ways people typically end up being arrested for DUI in Alabama:
- They are pulled over or detained by an officer with reasonable suspicion of driver intoxication;
- They are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint;
- They are involved in some type of a traffic crash.
Our Birmingham DUI defense lawyers know that the latter will tend to result in the most serious consequences. Primarily, this is because such incidents involve at least some level of property damage, injury or worse.
It's also a situation in which people panic, and are more likely to flee the scene. This is called a hit-and-run. The consequences of this in and of itself can be severe.
Lastly, people who are involved in DUI crashes, particularly ones that are serious, tend to have blood-alcohol levels that far exceed the 0.08 percent limit. While a measurement of anything over that 0.08 percent threshold (or 0.02 percent if you are under the age of 21) is considered criminal, a blood-alcohol level that registers at 0.15 percent or higher will result in even stiffer punishments.
In 2011, state officials report there were 278 alcohol-related fatalities in Alabama, with 40 of those involving drivers under the age of 21. In these fatalities, 62 percent of responsible drivers had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher.
Let's consider first just an accident in and of itself.
For a simple DUI, you will face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, plus a 90-day license suspension.
However, if you cause a crash while you are driving under the influence and that crash results in the injury of another person, you could face between 1 and 5 years in prison. That is per person who was severely injured.
If your DUI crash results in the death of another person, you could be facing a charge of criminally negligent homicide, per Alabama Code 13A-6-4. If the case didn't involve alcohol, the charge would be a Class A misdemeanor. However, if you were drunk at the time of the crash, it's considered a Class C felony, resulting in a prison sentence of between 1 and 10 years behind bars, and you could face up to $10,000 in fines.
If you flee the scene of a DUI crash, you are going to face additional penalties. Per Alabama Code Section 32-10-1, if you flee from an accident involving death or personal injury, that's another 1 to 10 years of possible incarceration.
Now let's say you have a blood-alcohol content that measures 0.15 percent or higher. This is sometimes called a “double drink DUI.” A conviction on this charge will result in double the minimum punishment you might have otherwise received had your BAC been between 0.08 percent and 0.14 percent. You will also have your driving privileges revoked for a minimum of 1 year, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed for a period of up to 2 years.
You could also face enhanced penalties if you are over the age of 21 and you have a minor in your vehicle aged 14 or younger. This too could double the minimum punishment.