Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In Alabama, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.
REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN ALABAMA
In Alabama, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.02% for those under 21. For day care and school bus drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.
Having an Alabama license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being suspended.
Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice. Alabama Law permits only ten days for a request from your lawyer to save your license.
- The first conviction penalty is a misdemeanor with a $600 to $2,100 fine and/or imprisonment for up to one year. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID):
- Your license will be suspended for 90 days.
- You will have to attend DUI School.
- The second offense or two offenses in five years is also a misdemeanor and is penalized with a fine between $1,100 to $5,100 and/or jail sentence ranging from 48 hours to a year. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- You will have to undertake minimum 20 days of community service.
- Your license will be revoked for one-year.
- The third offense or three offenses in the lifetime of the person is penalized with a fine between $2,100 to $10,100 and/or minimum mandatory jail sentence ranging from 60 days to a year. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for three years.
- The fourth offense is treated as a Class C Felony and may result in a fine ranging from $4,100 to $10,100 and/or imprisonment from anywhere between 366 days to over ten years. Also, if convicted for the fourth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- Your license will be revoked for five years.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
- 6 points will be added to your driving record if you are convicted with a charge involving drunk driving without any mandatory revocation of the driver license.
- The license may be suspended or revoked for 90 days after the first conviction, for one year after the second conviction, and for three years following the third or subsequent conviction.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- You will get a one year suspension if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%.
- You will be suspended for two years if you do not submit to a test.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their offenses of DUI/DWI.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
Alabama laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
- He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
- He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.02% or more.
Under this action, if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will confiscate your Alabama driver license complete a notice of license suspension/revocation based on the nature of the offense along with a warrant, if applicable.
The driver can schedule an administrative hearing after notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous five-year driving record. If he has any alcohol related convictions or suspensions for this five-year period, his license will be revoked for one year, and if not, then it will be suspended for 90 days. For a DUI/DWI offense in Alabama with a prior DUI/DWI offense in a five-year period in Alabama or any other state will result in suspension of registration of all motor vehicles owned by you for the period that your license remains suspended, unless this imposes undue difficulties to any family member, vehicle co-owner who may be dependant on the vehicle.
If the driver, however, does not request a hearing, then the suspension/revocation begins after the arrest, and is final. Vehicle confiscation penalties permit a law enforcement agency or motor vehicle department to seize your vehicle for fixed time period or permanently. Such penalties typically are applicable only to repeat DUI offenders. Vehicle return often involves large administrative costs and fines may also have to be paid.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Revenue, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
- To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must undergo a DUI or substance abuse court referral program and pay the reinstatement fee of $275 for a suspended/ revoked license and extra drug-related $25 fee.
- If you are being convicted it is mandatory for the court to order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive.
- You can submit the reinstatement application and fees in person at the office.
- DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
- If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
- See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
- If anyone over 21 years is convicted and a child below 14 years was present in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the person will be sentenced to twice the minimum punishment he/she would have received if the child was absent in the vehicle.
- Personal checks are not accepted mode of payment.