DUI In Alabama
To say that being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Alabama is an unpleasant experience is putting it mildly. As a suspected drunk driver, you will be treated like a criminal. Along with being fingerprinted and searched, you may also be photographed and placed in a holding cell until your arraignment—and in some cases, you may even be required to post bail before being released. What’s more, if you are actually convicted of the charges against you, you will also face a number of harsh penalties under the state’s mandatory sentencing guidelines.
Alabama DUI Laws
Like many other states, Alabama defines DUI as driving with an illegal amount of alcohol in your bloodstream or operating a vehicle while impaired. What’s the difference between these two meanings? In the first scenario, you can be arrested simply for having a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit—even if your ability to drive is not impaired. However, in the second example, you can be charged with DUI if you show signs of impairment, but have a BAC well-below the legal limit.
So what is the legal BAC limit? Assuming you’ve reached the legal drinking age (21), you must adhere to the federal 0.08% BAC limit. On the other hand, if you are underage or operate a commercial vehicle, you have less leeway when it comes to the amount of alcohol you can have in your system. As such, drivers under 21 can be charged with DUI if they have a BAC of 0.02% or higher, while commercial vehicle operators can be placed under arrest if their BAC reaches 0.04% or more.
Alabama DUI Penalties
Regardless of the reason for your arrest, the type of penalties you face will be based primarily upon your history of driving under the influence. Assuming you have not been convicted of a DUI within the past five years, you will be treated as a first-time offender. Although a first offense carries less severe penalties than a second or third conviction, you may still face a 90-day license suspension, $600 to $2,100 fine, and possible jail sentence if you are found guilty of the charge.
On the other hand, if you are convicted of a second or third DUI within a five-year period, you can expect to receive a much harsher punishment than a first-time offender. The minimum sentence for a second or third DUI, for example, includes a $1,100 to $10,000 fine, one- to three-year license suspension, and a mandatory jail sentence. In addition, you may also be required to perform 30 days or more of community service.