The law in Alabama regarding DUI is harsh. In its simple terms, a person who consumes alcohol and then drives a motor vehicle has committed the crime of DUI. However, the Alabama law restricting DUI goes farther than that.
“A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle while:
- There is 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood;
- Under the influence of alcohol;
- Under the influence of a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving;
- Under the combined influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving; or
- Under the influence of any substance which impairs the mental or physical faculties of such person to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving.”
Alcohol Not Needed
Thus the law does not require alcohol consumption. Any person under the influence of any substance that impairs a person’s ability to drive safely falls under DUI. The substance need not be illegal; rather any substance, even a prescription medication administered by a doctor, that impairs safe driving can cause DUI.
DUI convictions do not require that the police catch someone operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance. Police can use circumstantial evidence in determining whether a person has committed DUI. If the police find someone sleeping in his car and is in physical control of the vehicle. If the police can ascertain from that situation that the person was driving under the influence then that person can be guilty of DUI.
Below is a chart depicting DUI sentencing in Alabama:
|1st offense||2nd offense||3rd offense||4th offense|
|Jail||none||5 days||60 days||1 year|
|Fines and penalties||$600 to $2100||$1100 to $5100||$2100 to $10,000||$4100 to $10,100|
|License suspension||90 days||1 year||3 years||5 years|
Once convicted, a person will need to complete a court-mandated substance abuse referral program.
Challenging a DUI Charge
To be arrested for DUI, the police require probable cause to make that arrest. If police do not have probable cause, then the arrest was illegal and they cannot legally charge the defendant with DUI. If the arrest was due to racism or similar reasons, then the arrest was illegal and the DUI should be thrown out.
Another defense is claiming that there was no DUI. If the police find someone in his car and in control of the vehicle, they may suspect him of DUI for having bloodshot eyes or slurred speech. The defendant can counter these claims by demonstrating that his medicine produces bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.
Another way to defend against DUI is to bring other witnesses who say that the defendant did not drive drunk. They may have been with him prior to getting into his car.
If you are accused of DUI, be aware that it is a serious charge. Contact the law firm of Parkman and White, lawyers experienced in defending DUI cases.