Birmingham DUI Lawyer Explains Alabama DUI Laws

Whitney Polson, DUI lawyer in Birmingham AL at the Polson Law Firm, explains that Alabama DUI charges can be prosecuted under one (or both) of two theories. Everyone knows that either DUI alcohol or DUI drugs can be types of driving while intoxicated criminal charges, but many do not know that no proof of impaired driving is needed to be proven in order to sustain a DUI in Alabama, if the driver has an alcohol legal limit violation.

DUI Impairment by Alcohol is the Most Common DUI Charge in Alabama

Turning to the most common type of DUI Alabama charges, alcohol is the likely impairing substance. Consuming too much alcohol to drive safely leads to 90% or more of arrest for DUI in Alabama. For this type of offense, even without a breath alcohol test or blood alcohol test, a driver can be convicted, if he or she shows visible impairment clues, that a jury or judge considers as part of the evidence in the case.

First, driving under the influence of alcohol charges can be brought against someone who is under the influence of alcohol. Being under the influence of alcohol refers to a crime in Alabama, when the person whose physical or mental capabilities are impaired by ethanol (drinking alcohol). The criminal offense of DUI relates to the driver’s ability to drive a vehicle in Alabama, being negatively impacted and reduced, by overconsumption of alcohol.

DUI over the legal drinking limit – or DUI alcohol per se is another type of Drunk Driving, and does not require any Proof of Impairment

A second type of Alabama DUI alcohol arrest can also be based on a violation of Alabama’s per se DUI laws (over the legal limit alcohol), making it a crime to drive in Alabama with an alcohol breath test alcohol level, or blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08% grams percent or higher. This is the legal BAC limit for drivers age 21 and over, who are not operating a commercial motor vehicle, as defined under federal and state motor vehicle laws.

DUI alcohol per se is a type of drunk driving charge that need no proof that your ability to drive your car existed. The crime is “exceeding the legal alcohol limit” for your age category (e.g., under age 21, or 21 and older), or type of vehicle being driven (e.g., a commercial vehicle) can be brought against an accused citizen whether or not the arrested person is proven to be too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. Say that you drive up to a police checkpoint, and are asked for proof or license and insurance, no traffic violation exists, for a reasonable suspicion of being drunk. But, DUI checkpoints are a place that a DUI arrest can occur, especially when the driver does more or says more than is required by law.

By remaining SILENT and not taking roadside tests, you can avoid giving Police enough evidence to arrest you for an Alabama DUI

The statements that come out of our clients’ mouths, when questioned by police BEFORE an Alabama DUI arrest, often are the most damning evidence in a DUI arrest scenario. Many people erroneously think that “I will cooperate, by talking to the nice officer, who will let me be on my way.” Once alcohol is smelled or admitted to being consumed or any drug use is admitted or detected (like the smell of burnt marijuana) your night of driving is over. You will be taking a trip to jail.

Only you name and address are required, to comply with Alabama laws. All other conversation with Police are ill-advised. Any admission of prior alcohol consumption should be squelched. Just be polite, but silent. Plus, never attempt to do ANY field sobriety tests like an eye test, walk a line, stand on one leg, alphabet recital, trying to estimate time, counting backwards or ANY other “evaluation.” ALL such exercise are unscientific, voluntary, optional, and since no penalty exists for refusing these non-scientific evaluations.

What evidence is used to prove that I am at or above the BAC legal limit?

Violating Alabama’s per se BAC legal limit of .08 grams percent of alcohol means that the prosecution’s DUI Alabama case can be based entirely on your post-arrest DUI breath alcohol readings, and have nothing to do with the way the accused citizen is actually driving his or her car. When you refuse to perform the breathalyzer test, after your DUI arrest in Alabama, no DUI per se alcohol case can be brought against you for exceeding the legal limit for alcohol, unless a court-ordered blood test is obtained by police, which reveals your blood alcohol legal level.

Can you get a DUI if you are not driving? Under Alabama DUI laws – YES

Alabama’s DUI law does not require that the person be caught driving the car! Many other states, like Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina, all have similar DUI laws. Alabama is an “actual physical control” state, which means that—under Alabama law—just being in the car may be enough for police to make an arrest for a DUI in Alabama. Many Alabama lawyers are unaware of this law in Alabama, unless they practice criminal defense like Birmingham DUI lawyers Mark Polson and Whitney Polson.

Actual physical control is defined under Alabama laws as being “the exclusive physical power, and present ability, to operate, move, park, or direct a motor vehicle at the moment,” as determined by the totality of the circumstances surrounding the police encounter with you and your motor vehicle. For instance, a person who meets one of the above conditions and who is asleep in, or simply sitting in, a motor vehicle still may be found guilty of DUI. When police find a sleeping, intoxicated driver, if no ignition key is present, this may be a case that gets dismissed, since the key is critical to “operation” of a car or truck.

Refusing a breathalyzer after my arrest – What is the punishment for a DUI refusal?

DUI refusal does keep the police from capturing a breathalyzer test, for use in an Alabama DUI legal alcohol limit case. However, provisions of Alabama DUI laws create additional DUI punishment and DUI license suspension penalties for anyone lawfully arrested for DUI in Alabama, who refuses to take a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine following their lawful arrest for drunk driving. After a landmark decision from the U S Supreme Court in June of 2016, Birchfield v. North Dakota, a driver suspected of only being impaired by alcohol will be asked for an implied consent test of his or her BREATH, to check for the legal limit alcohol.

A DUI refusal triggers a 90-day driver’s license suspension, under Alabama DUI law, with no chance at a restricted license, work permit or limited permit during that time. In your criminal prosecution for drunk driving, the prosecutor will also try to use your DUI refusal to argue that you knew you would be above the BAC legal limit, and argue to a jury that this is “consciousness of guilt.” A skilled Alabama DUI defense attorney will be able to rebut these government arguments, as there are many reasons (other than worrying about being above the legal drinking limit) for an innocent person to refuse a breathalyzer, especially when he or she is already in cuffs, and not allowed to call their DUI lawyer.

Our Birmingham DUI Attorneys Fight DUI Charges in every County in Alabama. Call our Alabama DUI attorneys today, for a FREE Professional case evaluation, on a DUI refusal or for allegedly being over the Legal Alcohol Limit.

Call us Today: (205) 871-8838


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