What is a DUI?
You may be familiar with both “driving while intoxicated” or “driving while impaired” (DWI) and “driving under the influence” (DUI), but the state of Alabama does not differentiate between the two, often calling the charge a DUI either way.
A driver may receive a DUI charge when they drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Likewise, if a driver receives a blood alcohol test (BAC) and tests 0.08 percent or more, they could receive a DUI charge. Driving under the influence of drugs includes any drug that is considered a controlled substance or under the influence of any substance that impairs a person’s mental or physical faculties.
What are the Consequences of a DUI Conviction?
The state of Alabama has multiple tiers of penalties when it comes to DUI convictions. Punishments can range from fines and jail time to having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. This does not include the damages caused to your reputation, insurance rates, and the possibility of opening yourself up to a civil lawsuit.
The penalties are based on the number of DUI convictions a person has. The more DUI convictions a person has, the more severe the penalties. Likewise, any damage or harm you cause to another can increase the severity of these consequences.
A person who is convicted of their first DUI in Alabama may receive punishments that may include, but are not limited to:
- Imprisonment for up to one year.
- Fines of $600 to $2,100.
- Driver’s license suspended for 90 days, or,
- Installation of an ignition interlock device.
Punishment becomes more severe if a child under 14 years of age is also in the vehicle, someone other than the driver is injured due to driving under the influence, or the driver has a BAC of .15 percent or more.
A person who is convicted of their second DUI in Alabama faces punishments that may include, but are not limited to:
- A fine of $1,100 to $5,100.
- Imprisonment for up to one year.
- Community service.
- Suspension of driver’s license for one year
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for two years from reinstatement of driver’s license.
A person who is convicted of their third DUI in Alabama faces punishments that may include, but are not limited to:
- A fine of $2,100 to $10,100.
- Mandatory imprisonment of at least 60 days and up to one year.
- Suspension of driver’s license for three years.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for three years after reinstatement of driver’s license.
A person who is convicted of their fourth and subsequent DUI in Alabama faces punishments that may include, but are not limited to:
- Class C felony.
- A fine of $4,100 to $10,1000.
- Mandatory imprisonment of at least one year and up to 10 years.
- House Arrest.
- Suspended driver’s license for five years.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for four years after the reinstatement of driver’s license.
When Should You Get a Lawyer?
The answer to this question will always be “immediately.” DUI charges are serious and can affect multiple parts of your life. Having an attorney on your side can increase your odds of reduced penalties, protecting your reputation, and having the charges dismissed. If you have been charged with a DUI, call the office of Hazzard Law Firm, LLC, at 205-881-5641 to schedule a consultation.
Remember! Do not talk to the police without talking to your attorney first! Do not agree to a voluntary search without talking to your attorney first! Taking these precautions will make it easier for your attorney to build a solid case.
Common Defenses Your Attorney May Use
Your lawyer will help you build your case by examining the circumstances of your DUI. They will help you gather evidence of your innocence, research the proper case laws, and determine the best strategy.
Here are some common defenses attorneys use when fighting a DUI:
- They believe the stop or arrest was unlawful. Police must follow the law when it comes to traffic stops, including having probable cause for stopping you.
- They believe the field sobriety test wasn’t accurate. Your attorney will examine your field sobriety test to determine if it was accurate, considering factors like your age, weight, fitness, and medical conditions.
- They believe the breathalyzer was inaccurate. Breathalizers are a machine, and machines need to be calibrated regularly to work properly.
- They believe you were not properly mirandized. If your Miranda Rights were not read to you before being arrested, it is possible to challenge their actions in court
These are just some of the defenses your attorney may use. Having an attorney experienced in DUI convictions is integral for your defense.
Some Common DUI Misconceptions
When it comes to DUIs, there are some common misconceptions you should avoid or consider.
“Coffee, coffee, coffee.” Despite the popular notion that drinking a cup or two of black coffee will help you sober up, this does not lower your BAC. You can drink all the coffee you want; if your BAC is over 0.08, you could face a DUI.
“Give it time.” You may go out and drink a few drinks and then decide to wait an hour or two and eat something, hoping it will lower your BAC and help you avoid a DUI. According to Forbes, your BAC decreases by 0.015 percent per hour after your last drink. Often, waiting an hour before driving is not enough!
“But I wasn’t driving!” It is a common belief that you must be caught behind the wheel of a vehicle to be charged with a DUI. The police simply need probable cause to assume you were operating a vehicle while under the influence. They can charge you with a DUI if you were in a parked vehicle or leaving a vehicle they believed you had been operating.
“I don’t need a lawyer.” Regardless of your confidence, your first call should be to a lawyer if you face a DUI. The Hazzard Law Firm, LLC’s knowledgeable lawyers have the experience necessary to improve your odds of avoiding a DUI conviction. Call today, or use our online contact form to schedule your consultation.