Alabama DUI Laws and Alabama DUI Penalties

Like most states, Alabama DUI penalties have increased dramatically over the last two decades. The sentencing range for DUI Alabama, and whether the driving under the influence offense will be a misdemeanor or a felony, is based on the number of prior DUI (drunk driving) convictions, in the last several years. Alabama DUI laws control both the minimum mandatory sentencing, plus the range of options that the Judge has in the case. This is where DUI Alabama lawyer Mark Polson and his son, Whitney Polson, are able to make a huge difference in some cases.

If your arrest is classified as a 1st offense DUI, then you will face the least DUI penalties in Alabama. By negotiating aggressively, alternative dispositions for DUI law Alabama can be arranged. But, if “driving under the influence” is the charge upon which a DUI Alabama case is processed, some mandatory minimum DUI Alabama punishments are required by law, even for a first DUI offense case in Alabama.

This is the reason that Birmingham DUI attorney and Alabama DUI law book co-author Whitney Polson and his father, Mark Polson, an expert of Alabama DUI laws for 43 years, fight so hard to prevent even a first offense DUI from being on your Alabama driver’s license. People facing DUI in Alabama ask around for names of the top DUI lawyers in Alabama, and one of both of the Polsons gets named in almost every answer.

Intuitively, people arrested for an Alabama DUI look for the Birmingham DUI attorney who has amassed a track record for successfully handling the most Alabama DUI cases. Mark Polson, and his son Whitney, bring 56 years of combined DUI law experience and thousands of successful driving under the influence cases that have been dismissed, acquitted, deferred or cases in which reductions were obtained (e.g., an Alabama DUI reduced to reckless driving).

Do you lose your license immediately after a DUI in Alabama?

Because Alabama DUI license suspension consequences are so punitive, the most common objective of clients who hire the Polson Law Firm is to “save my license.” One of our more common questions is “Does your license get suspended after a DUI?” The answer to that question is YES, if the charge that you get sentenced upon is for driving under the influence.

Because both Birmingham DUI Lawyer Mark Polson and his son, Whitney, are fully versed on all aspects of Alabama DUI law, they can help minimize loss of driving privileges in the overwhelming majority of an Alabama DUI first offense clients and a substantial number of the citizens in Alabama who are facing a 2nd offense DUI. Unlike the neighboring state of Georgia, DUI Alabama laws do not provide for a DUI restricted license, to allow for traveling to and from work. No such DUI license is available in Alabama, but a person can get reinstated after 90 days of suspension.

Whitney Polson co-authors Drunk Driving Book for Alabama DUI Laws

As mentioned above, Whitney Polson just co-authored the 2016 book, Alabama DUI Defense, to help guide other attorneys and judges on the nuances of Alabama DUI laws. As a leader in the Alabama DUI attorney community, this is Whitney’s way to give back, and share his knowledge of Alabama DUI law and Alabama DUI penalties. The Polson Law Firm finds that their clients are comforted by the fact that their DUI lawyer “wrote the book” on DUI law in Alabama.

DUI First Offense – Alabama Drunk Driving Conviction – Information on Mandatory Alabama DUI Penalties*

Imprisonment or DUI fine for First DUI Offense – Up to 1 Year in Jail or a fine ranging from $600 (minimum mandatory) to $2,100 or both. The minimum fine for a 1st DUI conviction in Alabama is $600, if the fine is part of your court-ordered DUI penalties of an Alabama DUI.

Driver’s License Suspension/Ignition Interlock –Driver’s License Suspension for 90 Days.  However, if the DUI Alabama offender has a breath alcohol result under .15, interlock installation may be elected for 180 days and the full 90 day suspension is then lifted.  If there is a Refusal to Provide a Breath Test, or an Alabama DUI with an alcohol breath test of .15 or higher, accident with injury or child in the car under 14, then a mandatory ignition interlock of 24 months will be required. These additional DUI consequences have been added to Alabama DUI laws by the Alabama Legislature, as they target egregious DUI behavior, or risky drunk driving situations, in escalating and increasing Alabama DUI penalties.

Substance Abuse Treatment (mandatory) – All persons convicted of a 1st offense DUI in Alabama must undergo substance abuse evaluation, and substance abuse treatment, as deemed necessary by the substance abuse counselor.

Probation is mandatory in Alabama – Because the convicted drunk driver must satisfy all conditions and pay all fines that are part of the DUI sentence in Alabama, and comply with Alabama laws for some time period after the sentencing, probation is a replacement for jail time that the Judge has the discretion to put in place, rather than merely send you to jail. Various states have widely different DUI laws, that are substantially more punitive that a Court of an Alabama DUI, and others may offer penalties of diversion that is substantially better that Alabama DUI penalties. In some states, like Nebraska, probation on a DUI first offense may not be required if the accused is willing to spend a week of jail time is served instead, but in California, after two days of jail, the DUI 1st offense is followed by three years of probation, on a first DUI in that state. So, Alabama first offense DUI probation is somewhere in the middle.

When is a DUI a felony in Alabama? Under Alabama DUI laws, the DUI first offense (not involving a DUI accident resulting in serious injury or death) is a misdemeanor, and all other states, the 1st DUI offense is a misdemeanor, unless another person has died in a DUI-related accident or been seriously injured by your vehicle that is attributable to your DUI in Alabama. The Alabama DUI first offense conviction in a person’s lifetime is a misdemeanor, under Alabama DUI laws.

What is the “lookback” period for counting a prior DUI in Alabama? Alabama DUI law measures prior first DUI offense by using a five year “lookback” period, which means that a DUI second offense within 5 years has increased DUI consequences. Hence, 2nd DUI jail time, or felony DUI jail time would be significantly greater, if the driver was not facing a 1st DUI offense, in the last 5 years.

DUI Jail Time in Alabama – How Long in Jail for DUI? – Upon any 1st DUI Alabama conviction, the Judge sentences the driver. Under Alabama DUI law, the Judge has wide discretion, so that bad behavior or an excessive BAC level might cause a harsher sentence. The convicted DUI driver may be given a jail sentence of up to 365 days in the county jail or municipal jail and be required to pay a fine of between $600 and $2,100, under related Alabama DUI laws. For most of our clients facing a driving while intoxicated charge, jail time for DUI is their number one concern, so we seek probation, and not jail time for a DUI first offense.

Mandatory Substance Abuse – Evaluation and Treatment – The person convicted of an Alabama also will be ordered to attend a court-approved substance abuse program (licensed by the state of Alabama). Out of state residents may be able to have the substance abuse evaluation and any mandated substance abuse treatment sessions performed in their state of residence, but be certain to obtain guidance of your Alabama DUI lawyer before taking a course that may not meet Alabama DPS standards. Our DUI attorneys have made connections with a DUI lawyer in virtually every state in America, and can get these answers for you. While we know Alabama DUI laws and can precisely outline Alabama DUI penalties, for any out-of-state licensee, we will call upon our long-term, national connections with DWI lawyers and DUI attorneys in all States.

Alabama Driver’s License Suspension for 90 days for out-of-state drivers – If he or she is licensed by another state, the privilege to drive in Alabama will be suspended by virtue of any DUI first offense conviction for a period of 90 days. Nationally, the in other states, their department of motor vehicles or department of public safety of another state (like Georgia, Florida, Mississippi or Tennessee) will honor that Alabama DUI license suspension from an Alabama criminal court, once the driver goes back to his or her state of residence, if Alabama DPS reports the conviction and driver license suspension to them, as is required by Alabama law.

Lookback Period for Determining 2nd DUI offense status – Alabama’s “lookback” period under Alabama DUI laws is five years. This means that if a person has only a first offense DUI, and the day that he or she is convicted of the second offense DUI is more than five years after the date of conviction for the first DUI offense, he or she will be sentenced within the minimum and maximum range of punishment as a person with a DUI first offense in Alabama. However, if the second offense DUI conviction is within five years of the date of the DUI first conviction, he or she will be punished for 2nd offense DUI, as a second-time driving while impaired offender in Alabama.

Other States measure Lookback Periods Differently for First Offense DUI and Second DUI – Not every state follows the same lookback “rules” as the state of Alabama. By way of example, Georgia measures a second offense DUI as date-of-arrest to date-of-arrest, and applies a 5-year lookback for their drivers license suspension law, but a 10-year lookback under the criminal law part of Georgia DUI laws, for adding on very harsh addition DUI penalties and consequences for a DUI second offense. North Carolina has the same type of lookback law in their DWI laws for license suspension, but is similar to Georgia in having a longer lookback period (7 years). Plus, NC measures the time frame as being date-of-last conviction to date-of-new-arrest. Because we handle so many DUI in Alabama arrests, we constantly need to collaborate with a DUI attorney in a neighboring state, to know these repercussions. This type of law provides much greater punishment for people arrested for DWI in North Carolina, if they are repeat offenders.

Out of State Prior Convictions complicate your Alabama DUI case – So, if you were convicted of DUI-DWI-OWI in any other state, the complexity of our investigation, in analyzing all aspects of your potential DUI Alabama punishment, increases for our DUI law firm. Another neighboring state, Tennessee, now has mandatory ignition interlock for even a 1st DUI conviction, when any conviction for an Alabama DUI gets reported to them. Thus, our DUI lawyers must interpret the impact of Alabama drunk driving laws and inform a Tennessee licensee of that substantial extra cost and restrictions of their driving privileges, when they go back to their home state with an Alabama DUI conviction. Many times, a TN licensee will want to fight the case, rather than simply accept this lengthy driver license suspension, plus ignition interlock cost.

Alabama DUI penalties and consequences for multiple prior DUI convictions – Also, below you will see that for 3rd DUI or 4th DUI convictions in Alabama, the legislature looks at your LIFETIME record. This punishment scheme is similar to other states like Michigan. But, other states, like Georgia, utilize a 10 year lookback period for all DUI Alabama offenses, with a DUI 4th offense being a DUI felony.

For a Second DUI Conviction – What Happens After An Alabama DUI Second Offense?

Imprisonment – Jail time from 5 days to 1 Year in Jail or Community Service for a minimum of 30 Days (Judge’s Discretion)
Fine – From $1,100 minimum up to $5,100 maximum
License Suspension/Ignition Interlock – License suspension of 1 year and 24 months of Ignition Interlock.  Though, if Ignition Interlock placed at 45 days, the balance of the 1 year suspension may be commuted for the duration of the 24 months of Ignition Interlock.
Probation – Up to 2 years
Substance Abuse Treatment – Mandatory

A second offense DUI within five years (of the first DUI offense) is a misdemeanor with a jail term of no less than five (5) days and up to 365 days in the county jail or municipal jail. A judge in an Alabama criminal court may allow a person convicted of drunk driving to perform 30 days of community service in lieu of the required five days of jail time. You should advise your DUI lawyer which option you desire to request from the Court, assuming that you have no way to try to win the case at trial. On a second DUI offense conviction, the accused must be fined not less than $1,100 and not more than $5,100, under Alabama DUI laws. Additionally, his or her driver’s license will be suspended for 1 year, and he or she will be required to attend a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program.

For a Conviction For An Alabama DUI Third Offense

Imprisonment – From 60 Days to 1 Year Jail – Mandatory 60 Days
Fine – $2,100 – $10,000
License Suspension/Ignition Interlock – 3 Years driver license revocation and 3 years of Ignition Interlock.  However, after 180 days of license revocation, the balance of the 3 year revocation may be commuted for the 3 years of Ignition Interlock.
DUI Probation –Up to 2 years, less any days served in Jail

Upon conviction, the person with a 3rd offense DUI will be sentenced to no less than 60 days jail time and no more than 1 year in the county jail or municipal jail. He or she shall be fined between $2,100 and $10,100, have his or her Alabama driver’s license suspended for 3 years and shall be required to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program.

Felony DUI – for an Alabama Fourth DUI Offense

Class “C” Felony Imprisonment – From 1 Year and 1 day to 10 Years, Jail Time is a Mandatory 10 Days minimum and up to Ten Year State Prison term, if Convicted of Class “C” DUI Felony
Fine – Minimum of $4,100 to a maximum of $10,100
Substance Abuse – Complete State-Certified Chemical Dependency Program License Suspension/Ignition Interlock– 5 Years revocation and 5 years of Ignition Interlock.  After a minimum period of 1 year of revocation, and Ignition Interlock may be installed for 5 years to commute the balance of the revocation.
DUI Probation – Up to 5 years

The fourth, or subsequent DUI in Alabama (within 5 years), is a driving under the influence conviction that is a Class C felony DUI. A person convicted of DUI felony in Alabama will be sentenced to no less than one year and one day in state prison and no more than 10 years of imprisonment at an Alabama state prison. This huge range of possible prison sentencing is one place that a DUI attorney with a known reputation and top credentials can make a difference.  The person with an Alabama DUI 4th offense will be fined between $4,100 and $10,100 Dollars, and have his or her Alabama driver’s license suspended for five years. Upon conviction, the accused DUI Alabama offender will also be required to attend a court-approved substance abuse treatment program.

Other DUI Felony Penalties in Alabama

Other Alabama DUI felony penalties include (when eligible for reinstatement after getting out of state prison) the installation of an ignition interlock device, which is a breath alcohol test machine attached to the steering column and ignition wiring of your car. This breathalyzer device records and digitally tracks all attempts to crank the car or truck, and prevents a vehicle from being started or driven when any measurable amount of alcohol is detected in your breath.

If you or someone you care about has been arrested for Alabama DUI, please contact a reputable, experienced DUI lawyer at once to get fully informed about Alabama drunk driving laws. Call our qualified Alabama DUI defense lawyers for a FREE case consultation.

*All convicted Alabama DUI offenders are required to complete a DUI or substance abuse court referral program

Our Alabama DUI attorneys can come to your location, if necessary, after a serious auto accident. Our Birmingham DUI lawyers Fight Alabama DUI Charges across the entire State of Alabama, as well as other misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. Call us now at our Birmingham DUI lawyer office. 205-871-8838, or toll free at 1-844-7POLSON [1-844-776-5766]. When you only have one chance to win your Alabama DUI, why not go with an experienced, reputable Alabama DUI lawyer?

We Can Come To You. We Fight DUI Charges Anywhere in Alabama.

Call us Today: (205) 871-8838



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