In the state of Alabama, DUI laws are found in Alabama code section 32-5A-191. Under this code section, you can find both the definition(s) of DUI as well as details on the penalties you face. It is important to understand that a DUI charge is not like a traffic infraction, such as a speeding ticket or a ticket for running a red light. A DUI charge is a serious criminal charge and when you are found guilty of a DUI, you can go to jail, lose your driver's license, be disqualified from certain employment opportunities and have a criminal record.
Knowing the law and penalties associated with DUI in Alabama is important if you are facing DUI charges so you will understand what the implications of a conviction are. You will also want to learn legal options for defending yourself since, as with any type of criminal charge, you are innocent until proven guilty when it comes to DUI charges. The best way to both learn about the laws and consequences of a DUI and to try to fight the charges against you is to contact an experienced Birmingham DUI lawyer. At the Eversole Law Office, we have helped countless clients in Jefferson, Madison and Shelby Counties and throughout the Alabama area who are charged with an Alabama DUI. To learn how we can help you, schedule a free consultation with out Birmingham DUI attorneys today by calling 866-831-5292.
Alabama DUI Laws and Penalties
Under Alabama Code Section 32-5A-191, there are actually five different definitions of DUI charges. If you meet any of one of these five criteria, you may be arrested for a DUI. The possible reasons for a DUI charge include being in physical control of or driving a vehicle:
- When your blood alcohol content is equal to or above .08 percent (a BAC test is performed that measures blood alcohol in relation to your weight).
- When you are under the influence of alcohol (If you are intoxicated but your BAC is below .08, you can still be arrested for DUI).
- When you are under the influence of a controlled substance and, as a result, are impaired enough to be incapable of safe driving.
- When you are under the influence of both alcohol and controlled substances such that you are impaired and cannot safely drive.
- When you are under the influence of any substance that impairs your mental or physical faculties, making it impossible for you to drive safely.
Whether you meet any of these criteria can be determined by the results of scientific testing, such as a blood alcohol test, but it can also be determined by information provided by law enforcement at the scene of the crime and, in many cases, by dashboard cameras that take videos of your behavior and your performance on field sobriety tests.
Those who are arrested for, or found guilty of, DUI can face substantial penalties that become much more stringent for repeat offenders. For example, if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI and you either fail your blood alcohol test or you refuse to take a blood alcohol test, an administrative license suspension can go into effect automatically 45 days after you are notified of the suspension- even if you have not yet been adjudicated guilty of a DUI. This suspension, according to the rules set forth in Alabama Code section 32-5A-304, will last for 90 days for a first-time offender; three years for a second or third time offender; and five years for a fourth or subsequent offense.
The administrative suspension of your license is separate from criminal penalties that are imposed by the court if you are found guilty. These penalties are set forth in 32-5A-191 and summarized by the Alabama Department of Public Safety. They include:
- Up to one year of imprisonment and fines between $500 and $2,000 for a first offense as well as a $100 fine paid to the Impaired Drivers' Trust Fund.
- A minimum of either 30 days of community service or 5 days of imprisonment with a maximum sentence of one year and fines between $1,000 and $5,000 for a second offense. A $100 fine is also assessed for the trust fund.
- A minimum of 60 days of incarceration with a maximum of one year of incarceration as well as fines between $2,000 and $10,000 for a third offense.
- A minimum of one year and a day of incarceration and a maximum of ten years of imprisonment, as well as fines between $4,000 and $1,000 for a fourth or subsequent offense.
These penalties will be imposed if you are convicted of a DUI, but there are ways to avoid conviction. An Alabama DUI lawyer can help you to explore defenses including alleging problems with breath test equipment or some violation of your legal rights during the DUI arrest process.
At the Eversole Law Office, we have helped many clients facing DUI charges. The sooner we take a case, the sooner we can begin to work with you to build a DUI defense or negotiate a plea bargain. That's why it's important to contact Steven Eversole as soon as you know you'll face DUI charges in Alabama. You can call us toll-free, fill out our confidential online case evaluation form or visit our office in downtown Birmingham.