Getting a DUI, or “driving under the influence,” is a severe crime in all 50 states and can have long-lasting consequences for both the driver and, in some cases, the victims of impaired driving. In 2017, Alabama had the fifth-highest number of drunk driving-related deaths.
It’s important to know what constitutes drunk driving and the penalties for breaking the law. A DUI can have long-lasting consequences, which means there are things you need to know, especially considering how thin the line can be between a nice brunch or night out and a drunk driving arrest.
DUI Law in Alabama
Today, we’ll take a look at how drunk driving is defined and analyze the consequences of a DUI arrest in the State of Alabama.
Defining Drunk or Under the Influence (DUI)
In Alabama, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to such an extent that you cannot safely do so. The law distinguishes between commercial and non-commercial drivers, those who drive school buses, and those under the age of 21, with different legal limits of blood alcohol content (BAC) for each group.
- Drivers over the age of 21 are considered legally drunk with a BAC of over 0.08%
- Drivers who operate school buses or are daycare workers are legally intoxicated with a BAC of 0.02%
- Commercial drivers are legally drunk with a BAC of 0.04%
- Drivers under the age of 21 are legally drunk with a BAC of 0.02%
Actual Physical Control Defined
Additionally, you don’t necessarily have to be driving to get a DUI in Alabama. The law prohibits a person under the influence from driving or “being in actual physical control,” of a vehicle. This means you can still be convicted of a DUI if you aren’t driving but are, for example, sitting in the driver’s seat with your keys in the ignition.
The law can be very unclear about what constitutes “physical control” of a vehicle, so it’s always best to play it safe and not enter your vehicle if you find yourself in this kind of situation.
Penalties For Getting a DUI
The penalties for getting a DUI vary based on whether it’s your first offense and other factors, such as if there was someone under the age of 14 in your car. Generally, if you are charged with a DUI, you can expect to at least pay some fines, be ordered to take classes, spend time in jail, or have your license revoked or suspended.
Penalties For First DUI Offense
The penalty for a first-time DUI can be imprisonment for up to one year, a fine between $600 and $1200, and a driver’s license suspension for 90 days. A first-time offender may also be required to receive treatment for substance abuse or attend a program meant to reduce DUIs.
Penalties For Second DUI Offense
The penalty for a second DUI offense is higher if it occurs within ten years of a first DUI charge. Your driver’s license could be revoked for up to one year, and the fines are higher, with a mandatory minimum of $1100 and a maximum of $5100. There is also a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five days in jail or at least 30 days of community service.
Penalties For Additional DUI Charges
A third DUI charge carries a prison term of up to one year with a mandatory minimum of 60 days. This prison sentence can also include hard labor. In addition, fines can range from $1200 to $10,100, and your driver’s license can be revoked for three years.
If a driver is charged with a fourth DUI, the prison term can range from a minimum of one year and one day to 10 years. The fine can be from $4,100 to $10,100, and the revocation period for a driver’s license can be five years.
There are additional penalties for driving drunk when a child under the age of 14 is in the vehicle. In these cases, the driver can be sentenced to double the mandatory minimum sentence they would have received had a child not been in the car.
Similarly, drivers with a BAC of over 0.15% are also subject to double the mandatory minimum sentence they would have received had their blood alcohol content been below 0.15%.
Additionally, school bus and daycare drivers, commercial drivers, and drivers under the age of 21 face harsher penalties for driving under the influence.
Avoid a DUI Charge and Contact Us Today
Of course, the best ways to avoid a DUI conviction are to not get behind the wheel if you have had anything to drink, designate a sober driver, or take public transportation.
However, if you’ve been charged with a DUI, Brackin and Johnson can help. 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.