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What Can I expect if I am convicted of a DUI?

Dec 13

Around the holiday season, the DUI rate inevitably rises.  When someone gets charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she always asks, “What kind of punishment am I looking at?”  Like the answer to most legal questions, it depends.

Generally, a person can be convicted of DUI when he has either 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood, or is otherwise under the influence of alcohol, drugs and/or any other substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving.  The law is more strict when the person charged is under 21, a bus driver, or a day care driver (0.02 percent or more blood alcohol level), or a commercial vehicle driver (0.04 percent or more blood alcohol level). 

Generally, upon a person’s first DUI conviction, he can expect either a jail sentence of not more than a year, and/or a fine of at least $600 but not more than $2,100. Jail time is not mandatory on a first conviction of DUI. Additionally, the defendant’s driver license will be suspended for 90 days. This is an absolute suspension because there is no law in Alabama which provides for or allows a work permit.

If the same person is convicted a second time within five years of his first DUI, he is required to serve a jail sentence of at least five days but not more than one year, or perform at least 30 days of community service.  The fine imposed will be at least $1,100 but not more than $5,100.  Further, his driver license shall be revoked (rather than just suspended) for one year. 

On a third conviction, a defendant is required to serve at least 60 days in jail, which cannot be probated or suspended by the judge, but cannot be required to serve more than one year.  The fine imposed will be at least $2,100 but not more than $10,100. In addition, the defendant’s driver license will be revoked for a period of three years.

A fourth or subsequent conviction of DUI is considered a class C felony, and is punishable by a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 10 days, and a potential prison term of not less than one year and one day but not more than 10 years.  If the sentence does not exceed three years, confinement may be in the county jail at the judge’s discretion. However, if the sentence is one year or less, confinement must be in the county jail. The fine imposed must be at least $4,100 but not more than $10,100.  Also, the defendant’s driver license will be revoked for a period of five years.

In each case, the defendant’s mandatory minimum fine and sentence is doubled if he is over 21 and a child under 14 was present in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

In addition, any person convicted of DUI shall be referred to the court referral office for evaluation. The defendant shall, at a minimum, be required to complete a DUI or substance abuse program approved by the Administrative Office of Courts. The Department of Public Safety cannot reissue a driver license to a person convicted of DUI without receiving proof that he or she has successfully completed such a program.

This column is intended for general information purposes only.  It is not intended, nor should it be construed as personal legal advice.  The answers to most legal problems rely on the specific facts of your situation; therefore, it is very important that you personally see a lawyer when these situations arise.