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What is a DUI and DWI in Alabama?

Alabama restricts the consumption of any alcoholic substance before or while operating a vehicle, following Al Code §32–5A–191 (2019). A motorist commits a DUI offense if the individual uses a vehicle with 0.08 percent or more blood alcohol content. For road users under the age of 21, the value is set lower to 0.02 percent or more. Alabama does not classify any offense of operating a vehicle while under the influence of a substance as a DWI, but as a DUI. Notwithstanding, the state recognizes some DUI violations as more severe such as operating or a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more. This type of offense generally carries much stiffer punishments.

The penalty for a DUI offense is in two-folds; the first is from the criminal aspect of the offense, and the second is in regards to the traffic violation. The Alabama Judicial Authority handles the first aspect and regulates the punishment the offender receives per state law. The second penalization comes from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), the governmental agency authorized to handle traffic-related matters such as issuing driver’s licenses and punishing traffic violators.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Alabama

Alabama classifies all driving-under-influence offenses as DUIs, with no separate classification for driving while intoxicated offense (DWI). The state does recognize the violation, which some states refer to as DWI, as a severe DUI offense. The state can charge a motorist with a DUI offense if the individual’s blood-alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more. Upon conviction, the motorist will face either jail time or a fine, or both, depending on other factors such as prior convictions. The punishment meted out is usually the minimum sentencing stated by the law, unless the court decides otherwise. A motorist with an alcohol blood content greater than 0.15 percent, an offense which would be regarded as a DWI offense in other states, is guilty of severe DUI and attracts greater punishment. The offender receives double the minimum sentence.

What happens when you get a DUI for the First Time in Alabama?

An arrest follows a police officer’s claim that a motorist is operating a car under the influence of alcohol. The officer will not issue a traffic ticket and perform a breath test or a field sobriety test to ascertain intoxication. If the officer has reason to believe the motorist is under the influence of alcohol or if the motorist failed any of the previous tests, the officer will immediately arrest the road user. Law enforcement then transfers the accused person to a police station for processing and detention. If no pre-set bond exists for the offense, the traffic violator will appear before a judge, and the judge will set the bond. Following the payment of the bond or a waiver of it, a preliminary hearing is set up for the prosecution, usually at the district attorney’s office, to present the evidence against the violator. The admissible evidence will include the report of the arresting officer. An arraignment where the accused person will enter a formal plea before a judge follows. If the accused person enters a “not guilty,” the case will move forward towards a trial.

A defense available to a motorist accused of a DUI offense is refusing a breath test. This option is only available if the motorist was not stopped for driving unsafely, which indicates intoxication. Refusing a breath test allows the motorist to deny a blood alcohol content higher than the legal limit for the individual’s age category. However, the defense has disadvantages, as the persecution can use the refusal to take a breath test to establish guilt. The action also garners the motorist an automatic 90-day driver’s license suspension and aggravates the offense. The court can overrule the road user’s refusal to take the test. Ultimately, likely judgment includes a fine between $600 to $2,100 and a jail time of up to one year. The offender will go through a substance abuse evaluation from an approved agency.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Alabama?

The likelihood of jail time after a first DUI offense is highly dependent on the discretion of the judge and the circumstances surrounding the violation. If the offender has a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.15 but more significant than 0.08 percent, no child under the age of 14 years was present in the vehicle, and no harm to anyone other than the offender, the chances of jail time is low. If any of these conditions were present during the offense, there is a higher likelihood of jail time. Alabama law stipulates either imprisonment, fine payment, or a combination of both as the punishment for a DUI. Sentencing is at the discretion of the judge.

What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Alabama?

According to Al Code §32–5A–191 (2019), the penalties for a DUI conviction in Alabama include imprisonment, fine payment, or a combination of both. Further penalties are a court-mandated DUI referral program, a compulsory installation of an ignition interlock device for a stipulated period, and license suspension or revocation by the ALEA.

Imprisonment can be the most severe penalty imposed for a DUI conviction. The incarceration can last from a few days to 10 years, depending on the offense’s severity and frequency. DUI violations on the 3rd conviction and below do not carry imprisonment sentences of more than a year, although this value can double if the offense is grievous. A fourth conviction is a Class C felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. A fine can be the sole penalty for a DUI conviction, or the court might also issue an imprisonment sentence. The fine for a DUI offense is also at the judge’s discretion and can range from $600 to $10,100.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Alabama?

A DUI stays on the offender’s record for a lifetime. The document stays on record, and expungement is not possible. The only persons exempted are juvenile offenders in which the record of the offense is sealed and are not obtainable by anyone or used in future prosecutions.

Alabama treats the first DUI infringement as non-existent for sentence enhancement. If the second DUI offense occurs more than five years after the first violation, the second misconduct will act as the person’s first DUI offense, and the court will overlook the actual first offense. This charge does not erase or expunge the previous offense. Nevertheless, the court does not consider the traffic violation while allocating a punishment to the offender.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Alabama?

Checkpoints are legal in Alabama. Some counties in Alabama have DUI checkpoints set up at specific locations. These locations are available online. Other counties allow the erection of a DUI checkpoint in undisclosed locations. These locations can change to any of the public roadways in the county.

Which is Worse; a DUI or DWI?

Alabama does not distinguish between DUIs and DWIs. While a DWI is usually a more severe offense in most states, in Alabama, all driving-under-the-influence violations are DUIs. A DUI varies in severity based on the circumstances, with some traffic offenses being more severe than others. The events under consideration in a DUI case are bodily harm to other members of the public, property damage, the presence of a person under the age of 14 in the vehicle, the compliance of the motorist to take a breath test, and the occupation of the offending motorist. These factors determine the seriousness of the offense and the punishment to go with it.

What is an Aggravated DWI in Alabama?

Alabama does not recognize a DWI as a separate offense, and all violations relating to alcohol use while operating a vehicle are DUIs. While other states recognize an aggravated DWI as the offense a motorist commits by operating a motor vehicle with a very high blood alcohol content, this type of violation is a DUI in Alabama with more severe punishment.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Alabama?

An impairment or testing, which reveals a high blood alcohol content greater than 0.15 percent, is usually probable cause for a DUI arrest (DWI in other states). The accused person may be allowed to pay a bond while in jail, which may be a pre-set amount or determined by a judge. A preliminary hearing follows to present the evidence against the offender. An arraignment for the accused person to enter a formal plea follows before the case goes to trial if the accused person wishes to contest the criminal charge.

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