In the state of Alabama, a person who is involved in a DUI accident can face a number of serious charges, especially if you injure someone or cause a death. In addition to criminal sanctions, you may also be subject to a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for the damage that you caused.
A DUI accident is a serious matter and it is very important that you take action to protect your rights. An Alabama DUI lawyer can help you to defend yourself and challenge accusations that you were intoxicated at the time of the accident or can assist you in negotiating a plea bargain that mitigates the serious nature of the charges that you face.
At Alabama Criminal Lawyers, our Birmingham Alabama DUI attorneys have helped clients throughout Madison, Jefferson and Shelby Counties and the rest of the Alabama area to successfully defend themselves after DUI accidents in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.
DUI accidents are a common occurrence due to the dangers of drunk driving. Unfortunately, if you have been involved in a DUI accident, you not only face the standard penalties for a DUI– which can include jail time even for a first offense- but you also face additional consequences and penalties based on the fact that you caused an accident.
If your DUI accident results in the death of another driver or even a passenger in your vehicle, the consequences of your accident can be very serious. This offense is defined as “unlawfully and unintentionally…” causing “…the death of another person while engaged in the violation of any state law or municipal ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle, or vessel….” if “… the violation is the proximate cause of death.” Under these laws, homicide by vessel is not limited to DUI but also encompasses a boating DUI (or BUI).
The penalties for homicide by vehicle or vessel include a fine between $500 and $2,000 as well as a term of incarceration between one year and five years. A driver’s license suspension will also result from a DUI accident that leads to a death.
Alabama also has other related criminal offenses that you may be charged with if you are involved in a DUI that leads to accidental death. For instance, you may be charged with criminally negligent homicide while driving under the influence. Criminally negligent homicide is defined under 13A-6-4, which states that: “A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if he causes the death of another person by criminal negligence.”
Criminally negligent homicide is normally charged as a class A misdemeanor; however, 13A-6-4(c) stipulates that when the homicide is caused by the driver of a motor vehicle who is violating Alabama’s DUI laws found in 32-5A-191, the offense is a Class C felony. This means you face a minimum of one year and a day with a maximum of ten years of incarceration.
With such serious consequences associated with a DUI accident, it is very important that you explore any possible defenses that may exist to help you avoid conviction or disprove that you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. If there are no viable defenses available to you, negotiating a plea bargain to receive the minimum sentence or even to face lesser charges can be essential to minimizing the time you spend in jail for your DUI accident.
There are three ways people typically end up being arrested for DUI in Alabama:
Our Birmingham DUI defense lawyers know that the latter will tend to result in the most serious consequences. Primarily, this is because such incidents involve at least some level of property damage, injury or worse.
It’s also a situation in which people panic, and are more likely to flee the scene. This is called a hit-and-run. The consequences of this in and of itself can be severe.
Lastly, people who are involved in DUI crashes, particularly ones that are serious, tend to have blood-alcohol levels that far exceed the 0.08 percent limit. While the measurement of anything over that 0.08 percent threshold (or 0.02 percent if you are under the age of 21) is considered criminal, a blood-alcohol level that registers at 0.15 percent or higher will result in even stiffer punishments.
In 2011, state officials report there were 278 alcohol-related fatalities in Alabama, with 40 of those involving drivers under the age of 21. In these fatalities, 62 percent of responsible drivers had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher.
Let’s consider first just an accident in and of itself.
For a simple DUI, you will face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, plus a 90-day license suspension.
However, if you cause a crash while you are driving under the influence and that crash results in the injury of another person, you could face between 1 and 5 years in prison. That is per person who was severely injured.
If your DUI crash results in the death of another person, you could be facing a charge of criminally negligent homicide, per Alabama Code 13A-6-4. If the case didn’t involve alcohol, the charge would be a Class A misdemeanor. However, if you were drunk at the time of the crash, it’s considered a Class C felony, resulting in a prison sentence of between 1 and 10 years behind bars, and you could face up to $10,000 in fines.
If you flee the scene of a DUI crash, you are going to face additional penalties. Per Alabama Code Section 32-10-1, if you flee from an accident involving death or personal injury, that’s another 1 to 10 years of possible incarceration.
Now let’s say you have a blood-alcohol content that measures 0.15 percent or higher. This is sometimes called a “double drink DUI.” A conviction on this charge will result in double the minimum punishment you might have otherwise received had your BAC been between 0.08 percent and 0.14 percent. You will also have your driving privileges revoked for a minimum of 1 year, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed for a period of up to 2 years.
You could also face enhanced penalties if you are over the age of 21 and you have a minor in your vehicle aged 14 or younger. This too could double the minimum punishment.
At Alabama Criminal Lawyers, we have been able to successfully help many clients to raise defenses in a DUI accident case in order to get charges dropped or to win a not-guilty verdict. The sooner we take a case, the sooner we can begin to work with you to build evidence for a DUI defense or to negotiate a plea bargain.
That’s why it’s important to contact us as soon as you know you’ll face DUI charges in Alabama. Call Alabama Criminal Lawyers today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.