If you have been arrested for DUI, i.e. driving under the influence, you should seek legal representation from an experienced DUI defense lawyer immediately to learn the reasons why you should hire legal counsel. For example, a conviction could result in you being sentenced to jail time, your driver’s license being suspended and having to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Additionally, if you are found guilty, you will have to pay fines from $600 to 10,100 plus court costs. Even if you think you are guilty and there is no hope, there may be options such as a good behavior plea (“Stipulate to a Prima Facie Case”) or pleading to an amended charge.
I have provided DUI defense representation for hundreds of people in both municipal courts and district courts throughout courts in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. You have nothing to lose, because I offer a free consultation. Don’t try to navigate the DUI laws without an experience defense attorney because the consequences and penalties are severe.
DUI Conviction Consequences
- Jail Time
- Loss of your job
- Loss of your driver’s license
- Large fines and court cost
- Substance abuse treatment
- Community service
- Criminal record
- DUI Classes
- Victim’s Impact Panel
- SR-22 Insurance
- Ignition Interlock Device Required
If you have a DUI charge pending, you should retain a DUI attorney as soon as possible. A conviction could mean the loss of your freedom, your driver’s license and even your money. Even if you think you are guilty and there is no hope, there may be options such as a good behavior plea (“Stipulate to a Prima Facie Case”) or pleading to an amended charge.
Why You Should Hire a DUI Lawyer
You should never go to court without being represented by an attorney if you have a DUI charge pending. A lawyer can and will:
- Ensure that the prosecutor can prove it’s DUI case against you;
- Negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor;
- Negotiate a suspended sentence;
- Negotiate your fines;
- Offer you solutions that you may not know exist; and
- Guide you through the complex and ever changing DUI process.
What is a DUI?
- You are in physical control of the vehicle; and
- under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- to a degree which renders you incapable of safely driving.
DUI Penalties (Fines and Court Cost):
- $600-$2,100 fine plus court costs
- Up to a year in jail
- $1,100-$5,100 fine plus court costs
- Up to a year in jail but must serve minimum 5 days in jail or complete 30 days community service
- $2,100-$10,100 fine plus court costs
- Up to a year in jail but must serve minimum 60 days in jail
- $4,100-$10,100 fine plus court costs
- Up to 10 years in jail
Enhanced Punishment / Aggravated DUI
In Alabama, you may have to install a ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle if you:
- If you had a .15% BAC (i.e. “blood alcohol content”) reading or higher on your first offense.
- If there was accident due to your DUI.
- If someone was younger than 14 years old in the car at the time of your DUI.
- You have prior DUI convictions
Steps in a DUI Case
1. Police Encounter
With any DUI case, the police encounter will begin with a traffic stop. Usually, the officer will pull you over and ask you if you know the reason why he stopped you. The officer will then continue questioning you about the reason he pulled you over, such as weaving in the road, speeding, improper lane usage or some other type of driving behavior. That is generally when the officer will say something like I smell alcohol and have you been drinking. If you answer yes to drinking he will ask you how many drinks have you had. Irregardless of whether you answer yes or no more than likely the officer will ask you to step out of the vehicle and then request that you perform a series of field sobriety tests.
2. Field Sobriety Tests
Typically when an officer believes that somebody is intoxicated, the officer give the driver a series of field sobriety tests. These types of field sobriety tests include:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN),
- walk and turn test (WAT), and
- one leg stand test (OLS)
Often an officer will have the driver take a PBT test (i.e., portable breathalyzer test) to determine the level of intoxication of the driver.
3. DUI Arrest
It is a common misunderstanding, that the officer has to read you the Miranda warning when he or she arrests someone for an offense such as driving under the influence. The Miranda warning is only applicable when the officer is going to question you after the arrest. However, back at the police station, an officer will read you the “implied consent law”. Afterwards, the officer will ask if you will take the breath test. If you refuse the breath test, your driver’s license can be suspended for a 90 day period if it is your first refusal. If it is your second refusal within the last five years, then the Director of Public Safety can suspend your driver’s license for a period of 1 year.
4. Bond Hearing
The next morning you will have a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, the judge or magistrate will inform you of the charges against you and give you a bond. A bond can be cash, corporate surety or signature. A bond is an amount of money set by the court to ensure your appearance in court. The court will also tell you when your case is set for arraignment or trial. Once you pay the amount set in the bond either through cash or going through a bonding company, you will be released from jail.
5. Arraignment, Trial & Sentencing
At the arraignment you will either plead guilty or not guilty to the charge of DUI. If you plead not guilty, the judge will set your case for trial.
On the trial date, your attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor or you can have a trial. If you have a trial, the prosecution will first present the state’s or municipal’s evidence against you. In other words, the prosecution will try to prove you guilty of the DUI. The prosecution will present evidence in the form of testimony, and physical evidence such as video evidence and chemical test results. Your attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine the officer. During the trial you will have an opportunity to testify. However, if you testified anything that you say can be used against you. Additionally, the prosecutor will be allowed to ask you questions and you must answer the his questions. At the close of the trial, the judge will make the determination on whether or not you are guilty of the DUI charge. In municipal and district court, the judge acts as the jury. In other words, you do not have a jury trial in district and municipal court. If you want a jury trial, you have to appeal your case from district or municipal court to circuit court and request a jury trial.
Verdict / Sentencing
If the judge finds you guilty he will impose a sentence with the possible penalties as set forth above. If the judge finds you Not guilty you will be free to leave.
If you are found guilty in district or Municipal Court you will have 14 days in which to appeal your decision to the Circuit Court of the county in which the Municipal Court or District Court is located. You must perfect your appeal by posting an appeal bond. This is a different bond from the bond in which you made when you released from jail on the onset of your DUI case.
Learn why you should hire a lawyer to represent you. I understand that sometimes problems don’t occur nine to five. Consequently, a DUI lawyer is available on a limited basis to take your calls on the weekend and after hours. Please call the firm and leave a message and someone will call you back as soon as possible.