Felony vs Misdemeanor in Alabama: When Is a DUI a Felony?

Questions and Answers

Is a DUI a Felony in Alabama?

The Alabama Legislature writes all Alabama laws. This includes felony and misdemeanor criminal code sections relating to the state of Alabama DUI laws. These “laws” are more commonly called “statutes.” Occasionally, trial court rulings at suppression hearings result in appeals to the Alabama appellate courts.

In the United States, it is common knowledge that felonies are the types of state law crimes that are more serious in penalties and consequences. Everyone who watches TV crime stories know that the death penalty can be given for serious felony offenses, like murder. When people hear they have a felony charge, they think about potential years in prison. Plus, no one wants a criminal record, especially for felony charges.

Is Drunk Driving a Felony?

Potential clients want to know: “Is getting a DUI a felony?” When it comes to DUI-DWI laws in ALL states, certain common “aggravating” factors tend to increase the likelihood of felony vs misdemeanor DUI. Whether the driving under the influence offense will be a misdemeanor or a felony, is typically based on the number of prior DUI convictions.

Plus, when a serious bodily injury or death or another person occurs at the hands of an impaired driver, by drunk driving or drugged driving, a felony DUI situation can arise. So, fatalities or serious injury (bodily harm) caused by drunken driving or drugged driving can be a DUI felony in Alabama.

What Is a DUI Felony under Alabama DUI Laws?

In general terms, a felony DUI is a crime with state prison time of over one year. Some Alabama DUI felony laws call for a minimum prison sentence or county jail time of 1 year and 1 day or longer.

When legal interpretation disputes arise about how the statutes apply to a client’s case, the Judicial system gets to determine the meaning of those Alabama criminal law statutes pertaining to DUI laws in Alabama. Unless the Legislature later acts to change Alabama law, after a Court ruling, this new appellate court interpretation will alter certain DUI defense strategies of your Alabama DUI lawyer.

experienced alabama dui defense

When Is an Alabama DUI a Felony?

Under Alabama DUI laws, the DUI first offense (not involving a DUI accident resulting in serious injury or death or possibly for having a DUI with child in car) is a misdemeanor. For an Alabama 2nd DUI or third DUI offense, misdemeanor punishment is applicable, absent the aggravating factors covered above.

The same general rule applied in all other states.

Is Two DUIs a Felony?

So, on a national level, the first offense DUI is a misdemeanor, unless another person has died in a DUI-related accident for the 1st offense DUI Alabama driver, or another person been seriously injured by your vehicle that is attributable to your DUI in Alabama. The Alabama DUI first offense conviction or a 2nd DUI in Alabama in a person’s lifetime is a misdemeanor, under Alabama DUI laws.

Felony DUI in Alabama – for a Fourth DUI Offense in AL

Question: When is a DUI considered a felony in Alabama?

Answer: A 4th DUI within 10 years.

Class “C” Felony Imprisonment – From 1 Year and 1 day to up to 10 Years, Jail Time is a Mandatory ten (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 on an Alabama felony DUI

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 driver license revocation, and Ignition Interlock may be installed for 5 years to commute the balance of the revocation.

DUI Probation – Up to 5 years

The 4th DUI, or subsequent Alabama DUI (within 5 years), is a DUI-DWI (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 wide variance in jail time gives a Judge the power to make a scofflaw pay, with prison time. Reducing a long prison sentence is one beneficial area for a DUI attorney Birmingham AL to assist you, which usually only comes from having a known reputation for fighting DUIs and having top credentials. Such things can make a difference.

Fines and Surcharges

The citizen facing an Alabama DUI 4th offense will be fined between $4,100 and $10,100 Dollars. Plus, driving is no longer available for quite a while. The person with a 4th offense DUI within 5 years faces having his or her Alabama driver’s license suspended for five (5) years.

Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment

Upon conviction, the accused DUI Alabama offender will also be required to be evaluated by a mental health professional and attend a court-approved substance abuse treatment program.

Other DUI Felony Penalties in Alabama

Other Alabama DUI penalties on a felony in Alabama include (when eligible for reinstatement after getting out of state prison) the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. This is an electronic breath alcohol test machine that is wired in and attached to the steering column and ignition wiring of your car. This breathalyzer device tracks and records all attempts (by anyone) to crank the interlock restricted car or truck. Digital technology prevents a vehicle from being started or driven when any measurable amount of alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.

alabama dui defense lawyers

This recent Alabama criminal case seems to have forever changed the two-court system in Alabama wherein a person could fight a case or enter a guilty plea in the lower court (usually Municipal Court), but then “start over” in the Circuit Court. This “second bite at the apple” can still be accomplished, under Alabama DUI laws, but the harmful admissions of guilt made by the person entering a guilty plea in the lower court is now usable against the person, by the Prosecutor. This is a major change but is consistent with court rulings about similar state jurisdictional statutes in North Carolina, Mississippi and other locations. Here is part of the Court ruling:

The entry of a guilty plea by the defendant is a voluntary admission and constitutes evidence of culpability. The defendant’s guilty plea does not function as a conclusive presumption of guilt, and, like any other piece of evidence, the evidence of a guilty plea can be challenged. Indeed, a defendant’s decision to enter a guilty plea in the district court may be based on any number of considerations. For example, a defendant could argue that, even though innocent, he or she entered a plea of guilty to avoid the risk of a harsher sentence at trial. [Woods was convicted under Ala. Code § 32-5A-191(a)(1). Woods v. State, 221 So.3d 1125 (Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama, 2016)]

Whitney Polson is a co-author of Drunk Driving Book for Alabama DUI Laws

DUI Defence

As mentioned above, Birmingham DUI attorney 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 to other Alabama lawyers, 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.

How to Beat a DUI in Alabama Is Revealed in the New Drunk Driving Book

Drunk driving defense has been a cornerstone of the Polson Law Firm’s Vestavia Hills DUI attorney practice for almost half a century. When it comes to citizens facing criminal charges for DUI in Alabama charges, the central issue for both Alabama DUI defense attorneys is how to beat a DUI for each client on their Alabama DUI arrest.

This new (2016) drunk driving book, co-authored by Mountain Brook DUI attorney Whitney Polson, reveals little-known DUI defense strategies that have helped Mark Polson, DUI Lawyer Birmingham AL, and Whitney Polson, Homewood DUI lawyer, carve out a reputation for expertise in DUI defense. They cover all types of other Alabama criminal law offenses, from murder to speeding, but DWI-DUI is their main source of criminal defense practice.


The drunk driving book, written in 2016 for DUI defense lawyers, lists over 900 important cases on Alabama DUI law that are already to known to DUI specialists like Mark Polson and Whitney Polson. The gist of this book is to explain Alabama DUI law and how the information contained here can be a roadmap for how to beat a DUI in Court.

This is the reason that Birmingham DUI attorney and Alabama DUI law book co-author and Super Lawyers Rising Star Whitney Polson and his father, Mark Polson, an expert of Alabama DUI laws for 45 years, fight so hard to prevent even a first offense DUI from being on your Alabama driver’s license.

By never having a DUI Alabama at all, this is the best possible outcome. The father and son team of Birmingham DUI lawyers are ready to act to save your driver’s license and look for answers on how to get out of a DUI in Alabama. Why not hire experienced criminal defense attorneys for your Alabama DUI case? Mark Polson and his DUI book author son, Whitney Polson, are prepared to help you find the absolute BEST solution for your DUI in AL.

Get a FREE Lawyer Consultation Today With a Top Alabama DUI Lawyer

Arrested for an Alabama DUI? Need to hire a Birmingham criminal defense attorney? Call our criminal lawyers to find your Alabama DUI Lawyer. Call our DUI law firm now for immediate help, at (205) 871-8838. ON WEEKENDS or AFTER BUSINESS HOURS, use our 24-hour DUI Lawyers number at (205) 222-4544.

Ask us about helping file your Alabama DPS appeal, within 10 days after arrest.

Our FREE DUI lawyer consultation and professional criminal case assessment is worth your time and energy. If winning your DUI Alabama case is your objective, call our Alabama DUI law firm today. To speak with a Alabama DUI attorney, who is a DUI specialist on DUI laws in Alabama, don’t wait another minute. Our lawyers in Alabama will speak to you NOW, even on holidays and weekends.


Birmingham DUI Lawyer

Office Phone: (205) 871-8838
Polson & Polson, P.C.
2824 Central Avenue #150
Birmingham, Alabama 35209

Whitney Polson or Mark Polson will review your DUI felony or misdemeanor case facts, tell you more about your DUI court, and tell you the likelihood of getting your DUI reduced to reckless driving. Plus, based on your case facts, you may have a chance to have the DUI dismissed for a first offense DUI.

Our Alabama Lawyers Can Come to You.

Our Law Firm Fights DUI Charges Anywhere in Alabama.

Call us today: (205) 871-8838