Alabama Drunk Driving Laws, Penalties, and Consequences

Learn about the penalties for a DUI conviction in Alabama.

Alabama prohibits anyone from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, or
  • while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any impairing substance—or combination thereof—to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle.

The BAC threshold is reduced to .04% or more if the licensee is driving a commercial vehicle, and it’s unlawful for drivers who are under 21 years old to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more. However, offenders under 21 years old aren’t subject to the penalties outlined below, but only a 30-day license suspension and substance abuse treatment.

Actual Physical Control

In Alabama, a motorist can get a DUI even without actually driving or having the car in motion. The DUI statute includes anyone who’s in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. “Actual physical control” is defined as the exclusive physical power and present ability to operate, move, park, or direct whatever use or nonuse is to be made of the motor vehicle at the moment.

Alabama Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Per Se DUIs

A drunk driving offense based on BAC—as opposed to the driver’s level of impairment—is known as a “per se” DUI. The amount of alcohol a person must drink to reach the legal limit depends on a number of factors such as gender, body type, and how much alcohol the person consumed.

Our BAC calculator and BAC table can give you an estimate of where your BAC might be at after a certain number of drinks. However, these are just approximations that don’t take into consideration all the factors that can affect BAC. If you’ve been drinking, it’s always best not to drive.

Alabama DUI Penalties

Alabama DUI penalties vary based on the circumstances of the case. The judge is permitted to order jail time, fines, or both, but the range of allowable penalties depends, in large part, on how many prior convictions the offender has within the last ten years. Here are what the potential sentences generally look like for a first, second, and third DUI in Alabama.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 1 year

5 days to 1 year

60 days to 1 year

Fines

$600 to $2,100

$1,100 to $5,100

$2,100 to $10,100

License Suspension

90 days

1-year revocation

3-year revocation

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

6 months (2 years with BAC of .15% or more, passenger under age 14, injury accident, or BAC test refusal)

2 years (4 years with BAC of .15% or more or BAC test refusal)

3 years (6 years with BAC of .15 or more or BAC test refusal)

In some situations, minimum jail sentence may be served by a period of community service. And it may be possible to obtain a restricted IID license during part of the suspension or revocation period.

Anyone convicted of a DUI in Alabama must obtain a substance-abuse evaluation and complete all court-ordered treatment for probation and license reinstatement.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Alabama

Alabama’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. If the driver was placed under arrest and refused to submit to the officer’s request for a breath test, the license will be immediately suspended for 90 days. This increases to one year if the person has refused testing within the last five years.

The refusal suspension is separate from the criminal conviction and may be imposed even if the criminal charges are dismissed. Additionally, refusal of a requested chemical test may be used against the accused at trial.

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