On this page, we hope to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding DUI charges in Alabama. Not every case’s questions will be answered here and in no way does this qualify as legal advice. For the best chance at minimizing consequences, getting help, and moving on we advise you to contact a criminal defense lawyer with DUI experience.
We also want to preface this list of frequently asked questions by saying that no matter your age, driving record, criminal record, or any other variable, a DUI charge is serious! DUI charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, they come with serious fines and consequences. If you’re located in Anniston, Gadsden, Oxford, Talladega, or anywhere in North East Alabama, contact Warren Freeman today. Our offices can be reached by calling (256) 253-3169 or submitting a form through our website.
Do I need a lawyer for a DUI charge?
A lawyer is not required for any criminal charge. You have the right to defend yourself in court. However, this is heavily advised against. Even for ‘minor’ charges a lawyer should be retained. Imagine you’re fixing a pipe in your kitchen. You’re not obligated by any law to hire a plumber but doing so can help you avoid the headaches in case something goes wrong. Depending on the specific issue at hand it might even save you money in the long-term. Well, it’s a bit the same when it comes to legal representation. The big difference? Your future is on the line, not just your kitchen. We’re talking about potential jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Studies back this up. Conviction rates for DUI charges go up when a person represents themself in court. Plea deals and acquitals are also significantly lower.
Can I go to jail if convicted of a DUI?
Yes, absolutely. A first-time time DUI charge is a misdemeanor. This means that a judge could if they see fit, sentence someone to up to a year (365 days) of jail. A second DUI charge, within 10 years of the first, can result in a mandatory 5-day jail sentence. A third offense can result in up to 60 days of jail time, mandatory. Judges can sometimes show lenience when it comes the harshest of penalties. This is why a criminal defense attorney is highly recommended. Especially when dealing with sensitive cases like a 2nd DUI.
Is a DUI a felony?
There’s 2 ways to get charged with a felony DUI in Alabama. The first-way is if a DUI charge is a 4th offense. What does this mean? If a person has 3 charges within a 10 year period then a 4th charge would be a felony. Additionally, any charge after the first felony charge is automatically a felony. The second way to get a felony charge is through aggravating factors. These include injuring someone while driving under the influence. Now while this is not strictly speaking a felony tied to a driving under the influence charge, a person could face assault, manslaughter, or even homicide charges if someone is injured or dies.
What happens if I get a DUI and I’m under 21?
Being charged with a DUI and being under the age of 21 is serious. While the consequences are different and some would argue less stringent, they can turn into a nightmare very quickly. Anyone under the age of 21 cannot drive a vehicle if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is over .02%. This is different than the over 21 limit which is .08%. An underage DUI does not have fines or jail-time consequences. A court-mandated alcohol abuse course must be taken.
What are some enhanced penalties or aggravating factors?
There are a few aggravating factors when it comes to this kind of charge. Let’s go over a few of them here.
- Child under 14 in the car: If a person that is over the age of 21 is charged with a DUI and a child, under the age of 14, is present while driving then the driver can be charged with double the sentence they would have faced if alone while driving.
- Driving with BAC above 0.15%: As with the above mentioned enhanced penalty, a person can face double the sentence. This includes an IID device being placed in their car for 2 years. It can also include a mandatory jail sentence of a year.
- Commercial Drivers DUI: The BAC threshold is .08% for drivers over 21 years of age. However, it is .04% for those operating undering a commercial vehicle license.