Being arrested for a DUI in Alabama is a terrifying experience that can have severe consequences for you. You’ll immediately face questions about how to protect your rights and freedom best, and what happens next.
A DUI could come with jail time, probation, license suspension, and hefty fines. It can also tarnish your reputation forever.
The AL Code §32-5A-191 is clear on who should be charged with a DUI. You can be charged for a DUI if you are in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, if your blood alcohol level is more than 0.08%, if you are under the influence of drugs that reduce your driving capability, if you are under the influence of both alcohol and controlled substances, or if you are under the influence of substances that impair your physical or mental capabilities of driving safely.
So You’ve Been Arrested. Now What?
If you’re arrested for a DUI in Alabama, you should not leave your fate in the hands of the courts. Never give up a fight that has not yet started. You’ll need to take charge of your situation and take the necessary steps to deal with the unfortunate event.
Taking the following crucial steps after your arrest is essential and can determine the outcome of your trial:
1) Take the Chemical Test
A chemical test should be taken to show your blood alcohol level, especially if you refused a field sobriety test. Refusing to take this test is punishable under the law in most states. A blood test can be conducted in a hospital or at a police station.
2) Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney
DUI laws are complex. For this reason, it is prudent to contact an experienced DUI attorney instead of a general attorney. In as much as any attorney may represent you in court, an attorney that specializes in DUI cases has a higher chance of gaining you a favorable outcome in court.
3) Locate a Bail Bondsman
While most people are released without bail, posting bail is often required, especially if this was not your first DUI arrest. If this is the case, you might need the services of a bondsman who will require an upfront fee. A bondsman will then post bail for you after paying the designated fee. Although this might seem expensive, it’s cheaper compared to paying the entire bail in court. Bail bond agents guarantee that suspects will show up for their hearings, and if they don’t, they go looking for them.
4) Request a DMV Hearing
After your release, you will be provided with a temporary license. The information on the license is crucial. It usually states that you have 10 days, including holidays and weekends, to formally request for a DMV hearing failure to which your license will be suspended. The hearing determines if you will keep your driver’s license or not. Your DUI attorney might do this for you, or you might do it on your own.
Consequences of a DUI Arrest or Conviction in Alabama
As mentioned, a DUI might lead to jail time, probation, suspension of your driver’s license, and fines ranging from $600 for first-time offenders to $10,000. It is worth noting that a DUI arrest might lead to severe penalties if you had a passenger under 14 years old or if your blood alcohol concentration was more than 0.15%.
Permanent Arrest Record
Alabama laws also state that DUI convictions cannot be “expunged.” There will be a permanent arrest record on the National Crime Information Center database. This might result in dire employment consequences such as termination or denial of employment, revocation of professional licenses, military sanctions, loss of company insurance, and loss of company vehicle. Those who seek admission to professional schools might also be turned down.
In Alabama, the maximum and minimum penalties for a DUI conviction depend on how many times a suspect has been arrested for a DUI over the past 10 years. First time DUI offenders can spend up to a year in jail upon conviction, especially if their blood alcohol concentration was more than 0.15%. However, the judge might suspend the jail sentence and place the convicted on probation, which usually lasts for a year.
On the other hand, a second, third, and aggravated DUI offenses attract more severe penalties. Second and third time DUI offenders must spend at least 5 days and 60 days in jail, respectively. these figures double when one is convicted for an aggravated DUI offense. An aggravated DUI is when one operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.15%.
The Court Referral Program and the Ignition Interlock Device
You will be required to attend a court referral program if you are convicted of a DUI. A failure to show will revoke your probation. Everyone who has been convicted of a second DUI within 10 years is required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). Those who refused to submit a breath test, and those whose breath test was 0.15%, or greater are also required to install the ignition interlock device. The IID must be installed within 30 days of a court order.
The Mandatory Suspension of Vehicle Registration
Second DUI offenders in Alabama will have all of their vehicles’ registrations suspended by the Alabama Department of Revenue, and they are required to turn in their vehicle tags. The suspension period will last until their driver’s license suspension period is over. The only exemption to the mandatory suspension of vehicle registration is when the convict proves that the action will impose an “undue hardship” on people who depend on the vehicle in their everyday life activities. Such people include family members.
Other DUI Arrest Consequences in Alabama
A person convicted of a DUI might have their business trips canceled, be denied entry into some countries such as Canada, be denied rental car privileges, and U.S non-citizens could be deported.
Insurance companies might also charge DUI convicts higher premiums. Their policy will be transferred to a “specialty insurance” coverage plan, which is 50- 60% more expensive than the regular premiums. Insurance companies can also deny DUI convicts life insurance policies, and if they were involved in an accident while on duty, they would not qualify for workman’s compensation. They are also liable for punitive damages in civil suits that result from DUI charges. DUI charges can also impact visitation and child custody.
Can I Still Drive After a DUI Conviction?
A person can still drive after a DUI conviction as long as their driver’s license is not suspended. A person who refused to take a chemical test or was over the legal limit receives a notice of administrative license suspension alongside a yellow form as a temporary driving permit license.
Ways You Can Maintain the Ability to Drive To and From Work
People convicted of a DUI charge can maintain their ability to drive to and from work after a substance abuse evaluation. They must follow all recommendations an evaluator submits to the court. DUI convicts must also complete a court referral program course and prove to the Administrative Office of Court that they rely on driving as a means of getting to and from work.
If you or someone you know is looking for an experienced DUI attorney, please contact us for a consultation today!