If you have been charged with DUI or DWI, it can be a scary time. These are serious charges that could have long-lasting legal consequences that can haunt you for years.
It’s important to speak with a Phenix City DUI lawyer right away, as the proper legal counsel can make all the difference in the outcome of your criminal case. Contact the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Bence Law Firm LLC now to find out more about your legal rights and to learn more about our legal services.
How Our Experienced DUI Attorneys in Phenix City Can Help
At the Bence Law Firm LLC, we have years of experience handling criminal defense matters, including DUI and DWI. You need a practiced DUI lawyer in Phenix City on your side. Your attorney can prepare the best defense possible and work to get your charges reduced, or even dropped in some cases. This is important because even a misdemeanor on your record is serious and can cause a number of issues down the line.
What is a DUI in Alabama?
DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and is a serious violation. If you want to get your DUI dismissed, call us now. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, you can be charged with a DUI. If you are operating a commercial vehicle at the time, the BAC limit is reduced to 0.04 percent. If you are under the legal drinking age, it’s a zero-tolerance law. Even 0.02 percent can result in criminal charges.
An officer can charge you with a DUI if you’re operating a vehicle and the officer believes there is probable cause that your BAC is above the legal limit, you are high on drugs, or both.
Penalties for DUI in Alabama
Alabama enacted changes to the state’s DUI laws that took effect in 2018. The first modification makes changes to the “look back period” which is used to decide whether a DUI is the first, second, or third offense, etc. This is important because how many DUIs are on your record will play a part in how stiff the penalties are.
The courts will now look back 10 years from the date of the new arrest to see if you had a prior DUI. This is a big change from the previous law that allowed for only five years.
In addition, if you had a prior felony at any point in your past, this charge will automatically become a felony. This means that even if your felony was 25 years ago, it will hurt you in your pending DUI case.
The other major change to Alabama’s DUI laws involves ignition interlock devices (IID), and who is mandated to have one installed on their vehicle. With the recent changes, now even people who are in pretrial diversion programs have to install them. Previously, people in diversion programs were not required to pay for the device. Now, both convicted DUI offenders and diversion program participants have to install an interlock system and pay all of the related fees, which can be hefty.
- First DUI Offense – Up to one year in county or municipal jail, fine of $600 to $2,100, a mandatory 90-day driver’s license suspension, and mandatory DUI school. You must have an IID for six months, but it can be two years if your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, you had a passenger under 14 in the vehicle, you caused an injury accident, or refused to take a BAC test.
- Second DUI Offense – From five days to one year in jail, a fine of $1,100 to $5,100, and a year suspended license. You must have an IID for two years, or four years if your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, or you refused to take the BAC test.
- Third Offense – You could spend from 60 days to one year in jail, pay a fine of $2,100 to $10,100, and have a suspended license for three years. You must have an IID for three years, or six years if your BAC was 0.15 or higher or you refused to take a BAC test.
Common Defenses in Alabama DUI Cases
It’s important to prepare the best defense possible for your pending DUI charges. In some states, you may not be guilty if you were not driving the vehicle at the time. If you were sleeping in the vehicle, you could make the argument that you were not actually driving. However, in Alabama, that defense could still wind up with a conviction. The laws don’t specify that you have to be caught driving to be charged. Alabama is an “actual physical control” state, which means that you still possessed the ability to operate the car at any given moment, even though you weren’t moving at that moment.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, engine running, air conditioning on, etc. are some of the ways that determine who has control. In order to use sleeping in the vehicle as a defense, you should climb into the back seat and place your key in the glove compartment, or even somewhere safe outside the vehicle, so you present a more convincing defense that you lacked actual physical control.
There may be other defenses your attorney can raise, like you were never read your Miranda rights or there was no probable cause for the arrest. There may have been an issue with the tests used to determine your BAC.
Your criminal defense attorney will go over specific DUI defenses that are applicable in your case and explain your legal options should you plead not guilty.
What to Do If You Have Been Arrested for DUI in Phenix City
The first thing you should do if you have been arrested is to contact a Phenix City DUI defense attorney. It’s important to have someone on your side right away who can protect your rights. You don’t want to speak to the police and say something that can be used against you later and makes you look guilty.
Call a Phenix City DUI Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you were arrested and charged with DUI in Alabama, contact a dedicated Phenix City DUI lawyer at the Bence Law Firm LLC now. We are ready to review your situation and discuss your best legal options.