Alabama considers a driver to be "driving under the influence" (DUI) if operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most Alabama DUIs are misdemeanors. But when factors exist that elevate a DUI to a felony, the penalties can be substantially more severe.
Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony DUI charges in Alabama.
Drivers who are convicted of a DUI and have at least three prior DUI convictions generally face felony charges.
Alabama law counts only DUI convictions occurring in the last ten years when calculating penalties. So, for a DUI to be a felony, the three priors generally must have occurred within the ten-year period preceding the fourth offense.
A fourth-offense DUI is a class C felony in Alabama. A conviction will generally carry:
A judge can grant probation to a fourth offender, but the required conditions of probation include ten days in jail, completion of a chemical dependency program, and possibly alcohol monitoring.
While Alabama law normally looks back only ten years for DUI prior convictions, felony DUI convictions are treated differently. Once a person is convicted of a 4th offense (felony DUI), all future DUI convictions will be considered class C felonies and penalized as such.
While not considered "felony DUIs," an impaired driver who injures or kills someone can be charged with other felony offenses.
For example, an impaired driver who causes serious injury to someone can be charged with class B felony assault of the first degree. A conviction carries two to twenty years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines.
Also, it's possible for a DUI offender who kills someone to be charged with negligent homicide, manslaughter, or even murder. All these offenses are serious felony crimes and carry heavy penalties.
The penalties you'll face for a felony DUI in Alabama are severe. If you've been arrested for a DUI, it's important that you get in touch with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer as soon as possible. A qualified DUI attorney can let you know what you're facing and advise you on the best course of action.