Being convicted of any type of crime naturally comes with consequences. From jail time to hefty fines, criminal convictions can be disruptive and destructive to your life. When the crime is a DUI, there are a few things you need to know as you navigate the fallout of this particular type of conviction. While the best bet is to speak with a DUI lawyer regarding your case, having a basic understanding of the possible consequences is always a good starting point.
Penalties Increase with Subsequent DUI Offenses
The first thing to know is that the consequences for a DUI conviction are not the same across the board. The state of Alabama considers how many DUI offenses a person has prior to their most recent DUI arrest when calculating the penalties for this crime. It is also worth noting that there is a time stipulation. This means that if you are convicted of a first DUI and then a second DUI 20 years later, the judge may choose to give you the penalties associated with a first DUI rather than a second DUI charge since so much time has passed.
For first time DUI offenses, you are looking at up to a year of jail and fines of up to $2,100 while a second DUI conviction will increase the fines up to $5,000 if the second conviction is within 5 years of the first one.
For third time DUI offenses in Alabama, you may still serve up to a year of jail time, but the fines increase to up to $10,000 and the license suspension goes up from 90 days (first offense) and one year (second offense) to a 3-year suspension of driving privileges.
For a fourth DUI conviction, you are now facing a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor. While the fines stay the same as a third-time offense, the other penalties increase greatly. If you are convicted of a fourth DUI, you could be facing up to 10 years in jail and a 5-year suspension of your license.
Alabama Ignition Interlock Devices for DUI
Alabama is a state that uses ignition interlock devices as part of DUI penalties. This device is installed in your vehicle and requires you to register a legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level in order for the car to start. If you are over the permissible limit as defined by the judge, the vehicle will not start. Once installed, there is no way around it—the device will not allow you to start the engine if you do not pass the breathalyzer on the ignition interlock device. Another drawback to this penalty worth noting is that you are responsible for paying for the installation of this device. When you combine the cost of installing the ignition interlock device and the thousands of dollars in DUI fines, the total amount paid can be significant. While this consequence usually only applies to offenders beyond the first DUI conviction, if you are convicted of a DUI with an unusually high BAC, you may be stuck with an ignition interlock device on your very first DUI offense.
Jail Time Increases with Other Crimes
There are instances where the jail time for a DUI may be increased beyond the time frames listed for each offense. For example, if the DUI results in property damage or bodily harm to another person as a result of you driving under the influence, the judge may add more time to the jail sentence. If you are driving under the influence and kill someone through your inebriated, reckless driving, the charges will go beyond DUI to manslaughter chargers. Manslaughter carries the potential for much harsher consequences, including a jail sentence of up to 25 years or longer behind bars. Even if no one is harmed in your DUI arrest, the judge may still choose to increase the jail time in certain circumstances, such as a DUI beyond the fourth offense. The judge may also choose to look at your DUI history over all states and not just in Alabama, which may increase potential jail time.
Increase in Insurance Rates Due to DUI
Another consequence of a DUI conviction is that your insurance rates will likely go up as a result. While you are not legally required to explicitly inform your insurance company of a DUI conviction, they will still find out. When your license is suspended as part of the penalty for a DUI, you will need a form from your insurance company in order to reinstate your driving privileges. Once your insurance company sees that you are a higher risk driver, it will cost more to insure you since you have a greater liability of being involved in an accident or making unsafe driving decisions. With every subsequent DUI conviction, your insurance rates may continue to go up with each offense.