DUI Lawyer in Dothan, Alabama
Increasingly, law enforcement is cracking down on the practice of driving after you’ve had a few drinks. Even just a glass of wine with dinner.
If your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is above 0.08%, you are considered legally intoxicated. You may not feel impaired, but we are living in times of heightened awareness of the effects of alcohol on driving.
Just one drink an hour can raise your BAC and even if it is not 0.08% you can be charged if your BAC is elevated at all. Women are especially susceptible to having an elevated BAC after drinking because of their smaller body mass.
A DUI charge can also be imposed on a driver of a truck, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle.
Getting arrested and charged with DUI is never a good outcome. It is especially problematic if you are out of state.
If you are pulled over, Florida will require you to submit to some form of chemical test to determine if you are driving under the influence or DUI. The implied consent laws essentially require you to submit to these tests which may include a Breathalyzer or urine test.
If you refuse to submit to the test you can lose your license for up to one year. The penalties for refusing are often higher than a positive DUI result.
Whether you are in Florida or Alabama, the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration is the legal limit for intoxication.
If you are under the age of 21, whether in Florida or Alabama, zero tolerance law applies. It is illegal in either state for someone who is underage to purchase and use alcohol and drive. It is a criminal offense even if there is a small amount of alcohol in your system, such as a glass of wine with dinner.
The federal law was imposed in 1995 to cut down on driver deaths for those under the age of 21 and a NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) study found a 20% drop in single-car nighttime crashes among the first dozen states to impose zero tolerance on young drivers.
If you are charged with DUI in Florida and you live in Alabama, the state of Alabama will find out about it. That is because Florida and Alabama share an interstate driver’s license compact concerning traffic violations.
The compact was enacted to treat your license as if there were one record, no matter where the traffic offense occurred. So if you get a driver’s license suspension in one state the other must suspend your license as well.
Additionally, if your license is suspended, that is reported to the National Driver Registry, which all states have access to. You may not be able to receive a license again in another state. And your auto insurance is likely to go much higher after a DUI conviction.
The DUI process after the arrest involves several steps:
Arraignment. This will be your initial court appearance after the arrest. The judge will read your charges, and you will be asked to enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Preliminary hearing. When you are charged with a crime in Alabama, you have the right to request a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the court will examine the facts of your case, including the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support a trial. If there is not, your case might be dismissed.
Possible trial and appeal. Assuming there is enough evidence to move forward, your case could go to trial if you plead not guilty. This is a lengthy process that you should discuss thoroughly with your criminal defense attorney. If you are found guilty at trial, you have the right to appeal the court’s decision.
Too many people mistakenly believe that, if their breathalyzer test revealed a level over the legal limit, they are automatically guilty. This is not necessarily the case. There are many factors that can create weaknesses in a criminal case. To find out the best DUI defense strategies for your case, it is best to speak with a qualified DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Alabama DUI Law
In Florida, the state Department of Motor Vehicles cannot take your license if you are arrested for DUI. You can be facing fines, jail time and other punishment. You may lose your right to drive in Florida.
And once you return to Alabama, you can face similar punishments. That means you also may be punished under Alabama law.
Alabama law for a first time DUI offense imposes a fine of $600 to $2,100 and imprisonment of no more than a year in jail.
You may have your license suspended for 90 days and the ignition interlock device will be installed if your DUI was for a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
You must also complete a DUI court referral program before you can have your driver’s license reissued.
For a second offense the fines increase to up to $5,100, you lose your license for a year and have the interlock device installed for two years.
Alabama considers a third DUI offense a misdemeanor with increased fines and imprisonment of up to one year. The license goes away for three years, and the interlock is device installed up to three years.
Finally, the fourth DUI offense is considered a Class C Felony and fines increase up to $10,000 and you can be put in prison up to ten years. The driver’s license can be revoked for five years as well as the interlock device installed for five years.
How Can I Avoid Jail Time If I’m Arrested For a DUI?
You could serve up to one year behind bars or pay a fine between $600 (minimum mandatory) and $2,100 if you receive a DUI conviction in Alabama. Even if your transgression is classified as a first offense DUI and you are convicted, you may be looking at least hefty DUI penalties.
These penalties could include losing your driving privileges for any automobile through revocation or suspension, or other punishments that the court may order, such as imprisonment. The penalties may vary between adult drivers (aged 21 years or older) and a Youthful Offender. In fact, there is a first time DUI benefit for Youthful Offenders under Alabama laws.
DUI Fines and Probation
A DUI arrest in Alabama does not necessarily mean jail time. In many cases, assigning a jail sentence may not even cross a judge’s mind. But state law does allow a court to order imprisonment even for first-time lawbreakers.
There may still be measures for damage control if incarceration may be a possibility in your case, and a criminal conviction is imminent. If you are ready to fight for your rights, you can avoid jail time.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can vehemently argue for your rights in front of a judge. A qualified legal professional can get your criminal penalties significantly reduced, whether through a plea agreement or courtroom statements.
Probation is an alternative sentence for a DUI, and it involves being released from custody under stringent supervision. There are various requirements that a person on probation must follow, such as routine drug tests and mandatory counseling. Courts often levy legal fines with this penalty.
DUI Courses, License Revocation, and Community Service
A DUI course is a penalty that might substitute for imprisonment. These courses encompass topics such as safe driving habits, alcohol dependency, and the aftermath of automobile accidents that occur due to drunk driving. Upon the completion of this course, you will be given a certificate as proof. Community service is also a standard penalty for DUI offenses.
License revocation or suspension is a damaging consequence of a DUI sentence. Still, in comparison to jail time, this is less harsh. But this makes it almost impossible to function on a daily basis. It becomes challenging to reach anywhere, whether you want to go to work or spend time with family.
Treatment Programs and Electric Monitoring
In a DUI conviction case, it is possible to argue for Electronic Monitoring (EM). A judge may find it more suitable to place an electronic GPS device on the offender, rather than putting them behind bars. There are various benefits of this penalty in comparison to imprisonment, such as being allowed to travel to and from your workplace.
Jail time could mean losing your employment entirely. EM is also beneficial for the legal system as they do not have to spend on incarceration while being able to monitor the offender’s location at all times.
In cases involving DUI charges, the best possible outcome that the accused could hope for is being ordered to participate in an alcohol or drug rehab program. Such programs often do not include any further penalties, such as probation or fines.
It is beneficial for everyone involved if the offender participates in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program. Such programs address the root cause of the problem, which is alcohol or drug abuse, and not merely attempt to punish offenders.
Challenging the Results of the Breathalyzer Test
Many people mistakenly believe that if the breathalyzer shows an above the limit reading when they blow into it, they are sure to receive a DUI conviction. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes breathalyzer test results can be challenged on scientific grounds. In other cases, the circumstances surrounding a specific test can be questioned, creating reasonable doubt about the DUI defendant’s guilt.
An experienced drunk driving attorney can throw light on the challenges that are appropriate in an individual DUI case, and potentially even prevent the test results from being presented in court entirely.
Call Smith Law Firm for Skilled DUI Defense in Florida and Alabama
Regardless of where you are charged for DUI, you need to understand your rights and the penalties you are facing. It may mean you can no longer rely on your own independent transportation to take you to work and that can have a long-term consequence on your financial well-being.
If you have been arrested for DUI, there is no time to waste. Call our office at 334-702-1744 for a consultation to discuss your case and determine your best legal options.