Anytime you look in your rearview mirror to see the red and blue lights of a police car can be stressful, no matter what the reason for the stop. Being pulled over for suspected DUI can be especially intense because of the ramifications of the charge. If you live in Alabama, it is important to know your rights and how you should conduct yourself when being pulled over.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense that can stay with you and on your record for years, especially if you incriminate yourself further due to not knowing your rights when dealing with law enforcement.
This article will help guide you through dealing with this type of interaction as well as give you information on the penalties and laws regarding DUIs in Alabama. Knowing your rights and how to conduct yourself can lessen the consequences of getting a DUI charge.
When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Alabama?
To be considered legally drunk, a regular driver’s blood alcohol level needs to be .08 or higher for all non-commercial drivers. If you happen to drive a commercial vehicle in Alabama, your blood alcohol level needs to be .04 or higher to be legally intoxicated, whereas school bus or daycare drivers have to be greater than .02. This also applies to drivers under the age of 21, as a level of .02 or more is considered illegal.
What to do When Stopped for a DUI
Always Stop for an Officer
Stopping and complying with police when they are pulling you over is very important. Failing to pull over or fleeing the scene of a traffic stop can have very serious consequences, whether you are intoxicated or not. Always stop when so instructed by a police officer. The police are watching you the second they turn on their lights for any strange or erratic behavior, so make sure to play it cool and keep calm.
Cooperate and Follow Instructions
No matter if you feel the stop was justified or not, it is important to follow the instructions the officers are giving you or else you could be arrested for suspicion of DUI. Politeness and cooperation will only help you during your stop. Turn the vehicle off and exit the car with your hands raised. Never give the police the opportunity to get suspicious or weary of you. Be very cooperative and do what is necessary to protect yourself as well.
Do Not Incriminate Yourself
When you answer questions, remember the only information you are required to give the police officer(s) is your name, your driver’s license, your car registration and your insurance information. You are not legally obligated to answer any other questions if you are not comfortable. Make sure to say “I am sorry, but I do not want to answer any more questions without my attorney present.” This will keep you from incriminating yourself by answering further questions.
Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
You are within your rights to refuse any and all field sobriety tests (FSTs) when you are pulled over for suspected DUI. While implied consent laws state that by giving your license over, you submit to taking tests, unless the officer has good reason to think you are under the influence, you can refuse without consequences, but if the officers have reason, there can be penalties. The officers will most likely say it is in your best interest to comply, but that is only so they can establish a probable cause for your drunk driving arrest. Do not give them fodder for the arrest. If arrested, a chemical test will be given at the station and that may also be refused.
If you refuse the field sobriety tests or any chemical test, there may be administrative consequences regarding your driver’s license suspension. However, you will have provided limited evidence of your impairment. The decision of whether to participate in these tests is yours to make.
Penalties for DUI
First DUI Conviction
With a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or less, the first DUI conviction can see you losing your license for 90 days, unless you opt to have the ignition interlock device installed. You may also face jail time for up to one year or fines up to $2,000 or both. If your blood alcohol level is greater than 0.15%, the ignition interlock device will be installed no matter what and your license will be suspended. First-time offenders are also required to attend a DUI or substance abuse program
Second DUI Conviction
For the second conviction, if it is within ten years of the first offense, you will face mandatory jail time and fines.
Third DUI Conviction
The third conviction will most likely see incarceration not less than 60 days. The fines range from $2,000 to $10,000 as well as a driver’s license revocation period up to three years.
Fourth DUI Conviction
Your Fourth DUI conviction may result in a felony charge with even more severe consequences.
Schedule a Consultation with a Seasoned DUI Attorney Today
Were you stopped for suspicion of DUI and subsequently charged? Whether it’s your first or fourth charge, it is incredibly stressful to face criminal charges, and the pressure you feel about hiring the right lawyer can make it even worse. You need a lawyer who understands what you’re going through and will give you the best legal services possible.
At Brackin and Johnson, we understand the criminal justice process, how to work with each District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney, city prosecutor, or judge handling your criminal case, and the possibilities prior to ever entering the courtroom.
Our experience allows us to better inform our clients of what to expect prior to even entering the courtroom. We believe in integrity, justice, and honor. We know that going through the legal process is not easy and therefore aim to take as much off of your plate as possible. Contact us today, and let us fight for your future.