Alabama has some of the most stringent DUI laws in the United States. If a person is found to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, they will be subject to fines and penalties of increasing severity, as discussed in this guide to Alabama DUI laws. Also, we’ll explore how Alabama DUI law prohibits a plea bargain for “wet reckless” (reckless driving involving alcohol), Alabama’s point system, how each offense requires completion of a substance abuse or DUI court referral program, and much more.
Alabama DUI Laws
What is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
Like the rest of the United States, Alabama DUI laws mandate that drivers cannot have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. (For those under twenty-one years of age the legal limit is 0.02 and 0.04 for commercial drivers). Studies have shown that most people are impaired at 0.05 while everyone becomes impaired with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. How alcohol affects each person individually depends on their gender, weight, and body mass, though.
What Happens If I’m Pulled Over?
If you are pulled over for a DUI offense, safely pull over, be polite to the officer and don’t make any sudden movements, don’t lie when asked questions, and don’t refuse a field sobriety or breathalyzer test. If you are arrested, do not refuse a chemical test at the police station and write down everything you remember from that night (how many drinks you had, what you were doing and where you were when you drove, what you said to the officer, if you were read your Miranda rights, when you took your chemical test, where you were pulled over, etc.) Then, hire an attorney that is well-versed in Alabama DUI laws, especially if you plan to contest your Administrative Penalty.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
No. In the state of Alabama, under the Implied Consent Law, you are agreeing to a chemical test (i.e. breathalyzer) when you accept a license.
What Happens if I Refuse?
If you refuse, the first offense is a ninety-day license suspension. The second and third offenses are one-year license suspensions. This is known as an Administrative Penalty. Failure to comply means your license could be suspended for up to five years (depending on the number of offenses). This is separate from any criminal charges and can go into effect before your trial or you have been found guilty of a DUI.
Can I Plead Wet Reckless?
No. Per Alabama DUI laws, those charged with DUIs are prohibited from making plea deals.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
The answer to this depends on your number of offenses. According to dui.drivinglaws.org, Alabama adheres to this point system:
6 Points: Reckless Driving, Conviction Not Resulting in Loss of License
5 Points: Excessive Speeding (26 MPH or more), Not Yielding, and Passing a School Bus (when lights are on and crossing arm is out).
4 Points: Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road, Passing Illegally
3 Points: Tailgating (Following Too Closely), Disregarding Stop Signs, Traffic Lights, and Other Traffic Control Measures
2 Points: Speeding (1-25 MPH over the speed limit), Other Violations.
Depending on the nature of your offense, you may receive a DUI or alcohol-related charge, even if your BAC is lower than the legal limit. Also, Alabama has Ignition Interlock Requirements that you may be subjected to, meaning your vehicle won’t start unless you pass a breathalyzer test (for those with multiple DUIs).
The following schedule is used to determine the length of a suspension period over a period of two years with Alabama DUI laws:
24 or More Points: 1 Year
21-23 Points: 6 Months
18-20 Points: 4 Months
15-17 Points: 3 Months
12-14 Points: 2 Months
After a violation is over two years old, it loses its point count. However, it will remain on your record. Also, a minimum fee of $275 will be required to reinstate your license.
First DUI Offense
$600-$2,100 fine, ninety-day license suspension, and no jail time. The first offense for an Administrative Penalty is a ninety-day license suspension.
Second DUI Offense
$1,100-$5,100 fine, one-year license suspension, and five days in jail or a minimum of twenty hours of community service. The second offense for an Administrative Penalty is a one-year license suspension.
Third DUI Offense
$2,100-$10,00 fine, three-year license suspension, and sixty days in jail. According to Alabama DUI law, the third offense for an Administrative Penalty is a three-year license suspension.
Fourth DUI Offense
$4,100-$10,100 fine, five-year license suspension, and one year in jail. The fourth offense for an Administrative Offense is a five-year license suspension. If you have subsequent DUI offenses within five years, you may face prison time up to ten years.
As previously mentioned, all who have their licenses suspended are required to complete court-ordered programs. Alabama DUI law states that you may request a hearing to contest Administrative Penalties (i.e. refusing a BAC test) if the request is made within ten days of your arrest. This can be done by contacting the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Remember that this is important because Alabama does not grant work and school privileges. Also, extenuating circumstances may lengthen the suspension of your license.
Whether you live in Alabama or you’re just visiting, knowing Alabama DUI laws can help you avoid jail time and costly fines after a night of indulging in alcohol. If you do not feel you can safely drive home, call a taxi or have someone pick you up. After all, Alabama has strict DUI laws and you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the law.