A first DUI (driving under the influence) conviction is a misdemeanor in Alabama. A DUI is considered a first offense in Alabama if the driver has no prior DUI convictions within the past ten years. First offenders typically face up to a year of jail, fines, probation, and license suspension. This article discusses the specific penalties you'll face if convicted of a first DUI in Alabama.
The minimum and maximum penalties for an Alabama DUI conviction generally depend on the number of prior convictions the defendant has that occurred within the ten-year lookback period. However, if the current offense involved a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or greater (get an idea of how many drinks it might take) or had a passenger under 14 years old, the minimum penalties must be at least doubled by the court.
Jail time. A first-offense DUI can lead to a maximum of one year in jail. And for offenses involving a BAC of .15% or more, the judge is required sentence the defendant to the full year. However, if the judge finds it appropriate, the jail sentence can be suspended or the convicted may be placed on probation instead of serving jail time. Probation generally lasts one year and requires the person to abide by certain restrictions. Violating a condition of probation can result in jail time.
Treatment. Every person convicted of a first DUI must complete a substance abuse evaluation and follow all recommendations. The extent of treatment depends on the discretion of the court and report of the evaluator.
Fines. A person who's convicted of a first DUI also faces fines of $600 to $2,100, plus court costs.
The court reports all DUI convictions to the State Law Enforcement Agency. For most first-offense DUIs, the Agency will suspend the driver's license for 90 days. This suspension may be stayed if the offender chooses to install an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is an in-car breathalyzer that must be installed and maintained by a licensed distributor at the expense of the driver. Successful usage of the IID for six months will negate the 90-day suspension requirement.
However, drivers who refused BAC testing, had a passenger under 14 years old, a BAC of .15% or more, or were involved in an injury accident are not able to escape suspension entirely. These drivers must complete a 45- to 90-day suspension and then use an IID for two years.
The driver must also complete any court-ordered treatment and substance-abuse counseling before being eligible for license reinstatement.
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence in Alabama, it's a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer. DUI law is complicated and the facts of each case are different. A qualified DUI attorney can tell you how the law applies to your case and help you decide on the best course of action.