A bicyclist was killed in Alabama recently after reportedly being struck by a drunk driver in Mobile.
Our Birmingham DUI attorneys understand that the 28-year-old suspect registered a 0.16 percent blood alcohol level and had previously been arrested for DUI by area law enforcement officers.
Nearly every element of this case is going to present a unique challenge for this man’s defense. That’s why in felony DUI cases, you absolutely cannot trust your future to a public defender. It is always advisable to seek the services of an attorney who is experienced in this particular area of law.
Consider that a conviction on the vehicular homicide charge alone could net up to a decade in prison.
In any case where you have a fatality, it usually (though not always) prompts police and prosecutors to be more thorough during the course of an investigation. This means that your defense lawyer is going to have to work extra aggressively to find evidence that was potentially overlooked or improperly collected or handled. A novice may not have all the experience necessary.
Next, you have the element of a high BAC. A person is considered legally under the influence of alcohol if he or she registers a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. If a person is within a few percentage points of that, the attorney may have a strong argument that the margin of error was such that the suspect wasn’t actually intoxicated. There has been ample evidence that breathalyzer machines overstate the intoxication level of those tested.
A person who registers a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher is going to automatically face increased penalties, per Alabama Code Section 32-5A-19(i). For a straightforward DUI involving a first-time offender, we would be talking about a 90-day license suspension, a two-year interlock ignition requirement and penalties that are double to the minimum of what might have been applied for a defendant whose BAC registered under 0.15 percent.
And finally, we have a situation where the defendant has prior DUI convictions. There is a perception surrounding DUI defendants that they aren’t “real criminals.” That is, they simply made a simple error in judgment. For the most part, that assessment is true. However, it becomes tougher to argue that if the defendant has prior convictions for the same crime. Then he or she could be deemed a habitual offender.
In this case, the defendant reportedly had prior convictions for possession of alcohol by a minor, public intoxication and DUI.
This most recent case involves the death of a 51-year-old bicyclist, who was pronounced dead at the scene of an intersection late on a Saturday night. The defendant is now charged with DUI and one count of vehicular homicide.
None of this is to say that even with these challenges, a DUI conviction can’t be successfully fought. What it means is that it is going to take someone with skill and experience to do it.