You leave a restaurant or bar in Alabama and get into your vehicle. Maybe you feel a little tipsy, but you’re sure it’s nothing you can’t handle. The next thing you know, there are red and blue lights behind you, accompanied by a sinking feeling in your stomach.
Being arrested for a DUI can be embarrassing and frightening, but it does not mean you should give up. You have plenty of options after an arrest, and an experienced Alabama DUI attorney can help you fight for the best possible outcome.
Getting Arrested for DUI in Alabama
During your traffic stop, you may be asked to participate in a number of sobriety tests. These include the nystagmus test, which tests your ability to look side to side without your eyes jerking; the walk and turn test, which tests whether or not you can keep your balance; and the balancing on one leg test, which determines how well you balance without using your arms or falling.
These tests are not viable tests of impairment and you should refuse them. Though they are meant to be given the same way every time, they are highly subject to officer bias and can only be used against you. If the police officer who stops you already believes you are impaired, “passing” the field sobriety tests will not convince them otherwise.
You may also be asked to take a roadside Breathalyzer test before you are arrested. You can refuse this without being penalized. Much like the roadside sobriety tests, the results of a roadside breath test can only be used against you. They will never exonerate you.
If you are arrested, you do have to take the breath test administered at the jail or at the police station. If you refuse this test, your license will immediately be suspended for 90 days. If you refuse a breath test a second time within five years, your license is suspended for one year.
Possible DUI Penalties
The penalties you face for a DUI conviction in Alabama depend largely on how many DUI convictions you already have and any circumstances that may worsen your penalties. A first DUI conviction may require up to one year in jail and fines between $600 and $1200. You will also lose your license for 90 days, unless you choose to have an ignition interlock device.
The penalties get more severe after your second DUI conviction. You may spend between five days and one year in jail. Fines may be as high as $5,100. You’ll lose your license for one year and have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for two years.
After a third DUI, you may have to pay a fine as high as $10,100 and spend up to one year in jail. The minimum jail sentence is 60 days. Your vehicle will have an ignition interlock device for three years. Beyond the third DUI, the penalties become increasingly more restrictive.
There are some circumstances that can lead to more serious penalties for drivers. If you have a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest or a DUI of 0.15% or higher, the minimum sentence for your DUI will double.
Will a DUI Affect My Career?
Unfortunately, you may find that a DUI arrest or conviction in Alabama negatively impacts your career. If your job requires you to drive at all, you will likely be suspended or let go upon losing your license. This is particularly serious for CDL holders, who lose their CDL for at least one year after a conviction. A suspension of one year can completely end a truck driver’s career.
If you work in a licensed career, you may have to report your arrest or conviction to your licensing board. Depending on your career path, you could lose your license, be forced to work under the supervision of someone else, face temporary suspension, or have to undergo a hearing with your licensing board.
Even if there aren’t legal or regulatory consequences for a DUI in your career, the societal impact can be devastating. Driving while impaired is looked down upon in society, and a DUI conviction could lead to being turned down for promotions or other opportunities.
DUI Defense Options in Alabama
Your attorney will explore a variety of defenses that may lead to dismissed charges or reduced charges. They may look at the legality of the original traffic stop. If the officer did not have cause to initiate a traffic stop or unlawfully arrested you, the results of the breath test may not be admissible in court.
If this is your first DUI arrest, you may qualify for DUI diversion programs. These programs allow you to avoid a conviction if you attend educational programs or rehabilitative programs designed to help drivers avoid driving under the influence. As part of their terms, these programs require that you not get arrested for the same crime for a certain period of time. If you violate these terms, the court can pursue your original charges.
Your attorney may look for ways to prove that you were not actually impaired when you were stopped. Some people are on certain medications or have medical conditions that mimic the symptoms of impairment. While these people may still be completely safe drivers, the side effects of their medication or diagnosis may occasionally cause erratic behaviors or speech patterns. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty, no matter how it may feel after an arrest.
Call an Experienced Alabama DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, you need to act immediately to protect your rights and your future. Regardless of the circumstances that led to your arrest, we know that you deserve reliable, passionate legal representation. As soon as possible, get in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable Alabama DUI attorney.