DUI In Alabama First Offense
If you are like most drivers who are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Alabama, the experience probably marks your first run-in with law enforcement. However, if you assume that having a flawless criminal record means you won’t face any major penalties, think again. DUI is a serious criminal offense—and in an effort to deter the crime, Alabama lawmakers have enacted stringent DUI sentencing guidelines. Unfortunately, this means that even a first offense carries a number of harsh penalties. Here’s what you can expect if you are charged with DUI in Alabama and it is your first offense.
Administrative DUI Penalties
The moment you are arrested for driving under the influence, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend your driver’s license. It is important to know that this suspension is an administrative penalty, and is entirely separate from any criminal penalties you will face if you are eventually convicted of the offense. In fact, even if the charges against you are ultimately dismissed, your administrative suspension may still remain in effect. To prevent this from happening, you must request a hearing with the DMV to challenge your suspension—and you have just ten business days from the time you are arrested to file your appeal. Otherwise, your driving privileges will be suspended for the 90 days or more.
Criminal DUI Penalties
In addition to an administrative license suspension, a first DUI conviction carries a mandatory fine and possible jail sentence. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, the court may order you to pay anywhere from $600 to $2,100 in fees and, although highly unlikely, your sentence could also include up to a year of jail time.
Of course, the consequences of a DUI conviction don’t end once you’ve been sentenced by the courts. As a serious offense, a DUI conviction will permanently appear on your criminal record—which means anyone who checks your background will see that you are a convicted drunk driver. As you can imagine, this can jeopardize countless opportunities in the future—affecting your eligibility for a number of jobs, as well as housing and educational programs.
You can also expect to pay much more for auto insurance if you have a DUI conviction on your record. Many drivers are shocked when their insurance rates are doubled or tripled after their conviction, and some companies may even refuse to insure you at all.