A drunk driving arrest in Alabama should always be taken seriously. A DUI conviction can place your life, liberty, and livelihood on the line. It can affect your job prospects, your reputation, and your finances. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving in Phenix City, you need a skilled DUI defense attorney on your side now.
Hiring the right criminal attorney can make or break your drunk driving case. Remember, just because you were arrested does not mean you’ve been found guilty of a crime. A good lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case, the circumstances of your arrest, and push for your charges to be reduced or dismissed.
Contact Bence Law Firm, LLC. Phenix City native David Bence is an accomplished attorney with experience in both criminal and civil litigation. Whether this is your first DUI arrest or you have previous drunk driving charges or convictions, Attorney Bence can develop the best possible defense and protect your rights in court. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Penalties for Drunk Driving in Alabama
Alabama has strict penalties for drunk driving. In 2018, the state changed the rules on its “look back period” to determine whether a person has been charged with DUI multiple times. Today, the courts will look back from 10 years from the date of your arrest to see whether you have any previous DUIs. The more offenses you have, the greater the punishment could be.
Any prior history of a felony also matters. If you have a felony on your record, your drunk driving charge is automatically upgraded to a felony. Again, the penalties will be harsher.
Here are the drunk driving penalties for the state of Alabama, including Phenix City:
- First DUI offense: Up to one year in prison, a fine of $600 to $2,100, a mandatory 90-day driver’s license suspension or ignition interlock device (IID) for three months, and required participation in a DUI class. An IID may be required for one year if you were convicted under “aggravated circumstances,” which could include having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher, a passenger under 14 in the car, causing a drunk driving accident resulting in injury, or refusing to take the breath test.
- Second DUI offense: Jail for anywhere from five days to one year, $1,100 to $5,100 fine, one-year driver’s license revocation, and an IID for two years, and taking an approved DUI class or substance abuse program. Community service is possible instead of jail time.
- Third DUI: Jail for 60 days to one year, fines between $2,100 and $10,100, three-year driver’s license revocation or four years with IID, and DUI school.
- Fourth or more offenses: A Class C felony punishable by one year and one day or up to 10 years in state prison, fines between $4,100 and up to $10,100, five-year driver’s license revocation, IID for four years, and a DUI class.
Double Minimum Punishment
In any situation where an offender has at least a 0.15 BAC while in “actual physical control” of a vehicle, these minimum DUI penalties can be doubled.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be driving to be in actual physical control of a car. Even sitting in the driver’s seat or having the key in your pocket could count as actual physical control of the vehicle in Alabama.
How a DUI Defense Attorney Can Help
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, an attorney can be your best asset to either have the charges reduced or even dismissed. Your options will depend on the facts of the case, how the arrest happened, and your criminal history, among other factors.
One of the first things an Alabama DUI lawyer can address is your license suspension. Your driver’s license can be revoked before you have even been convicted of drunk driving.
After your arrest, you may have received an AST-60 form from the police officer. This is a temporary license that allows you to drive for 45 days after the arrest. Once that period expires, your revocation goes into effect.
At Bence Law Firm, LLC, we can request a hearing to oppose your license suspension. However, you only have 10 days from your arrest to make your request. That’s why it’s so important to start working with a DUI defense lawyer right after you are charged.
The next step is to investigate the case thoroughly. Field sobriety tests conducted by the arresting officer are highly subjective. There may be other factors that caused you to fail the test. Even though breath testing is considered a reliable way to assess a driver’s BAC, these tests are also imperfect if administered incorrectly. An experienced attorney will review the evidence to verify that your results are accurate and that the tests were performed correctly.
In addition, officers are bound by specific rules in the way they conduct a traffic stop. A lawyer can determine whether there was probable cause to pull you over and whether their conduct complied with the law.
Based on the evidence, a DUI defense attorney will argue for the best possible outcome in your case. For example, your charge may be reduced to a lesser charge of reckless driving, which carries lighter penalties than a DUI in Phenix City and could have much less of an impact on your future.
Call Now to Learn More about DUI Penalties in Phenix City
The best way to know what legal options are open to you after a drunk driving arrest in Alabama is by speaking with a lawyer. Regardless of whether this is your first charge or you have multiple arrests, there are always alternatives to consider.
This is your life on the line. You deserve a top criminal defense lawyer to protect it. Call or contact Bence Law Firm, LLC to discuss drunk driving penalties in Phenix City and how to avoid them.