Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is always a crime in the state of Alabama, but if you are very drunk, your simple DUI can become a more serious crime called aggravated DUI. In the state of Alabama, a law dubbed the “Super” DUI law was passed in Alabama Act No. 2011-621 and created this aggravated DUI offense. Under the super DUI bill, individuals with a BAC of .15 or greater are subject to mandatory minimum jail sentences and a longer driver’s license suspension.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence and you have a BAC at or above .15, you face very serious consequences under aggravated DUI laws. It is imperative you consult with an experienced Alabama DUI lawyer for assistance in avoiding conviction or plea bargaining down your charges to avoid the life-changing impact of an aggravated DUI conviction.
At Alabama Criminal Lawyers, we have helped many clients who have been accused of an aggravated DUI to successfully defend themselves and walk away from the DUI charges they faced. If you live in Jefferson, Madison and Shelby Counties or elsewhere in Alabama, contact us today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.
In the state of Alabama, Code section 32-5A-191 defines a DUI as driving or being in physical control of a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Although there are several different definitions of DUI, including driving while impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs that renders you unable to drive safely, one of the definitions relates directly to your blood alcohol content or BAC. According to the relevant Alabama Code section, a person with a BAC of .08 or higher is guilty of a DUI offense.
While .08 is the legal limit, individuals with a BAC of .15 or higher present the most significant danger on the roadways. As such, Alabama legislatures made many attempts to impose harsher penalties on those who have a high BAC before the Alabama Super DUI law went into effect in 2011. With the passage of the Super DUI law, those who submit to a BAC test and test above .15 can face a mandatory one-year minimum jail sentence, even for first-time offenders with no prior DUI convictions. Since first time offenders with a BAC below .15 may be able to avoid jail time entirely and perform community service instead, these aggravated DUI charges for a high BAC are much more serious than simple DUI charges.
In addition to the longer term of incarceration, people charged with an aggravated DUI may also face a longer driver’s license suspension of at least a one-year period. This, too, is much longer than the standard 90-day administrative suspension that occurs in a simple DUI under Alabama Code section 32-5A-304.
Because of the increased penalties and the serious nature of aggravated DUI charges, it becomes especially important for you to get legal help when you are facing a DUI with a high BAC. Your Alabama criminal defense lawyer may be able to challenge the accuracy of the BAC test or otherwise raise defenses that can help you to avoid conviction. Your Birmingham DUI lawyer may also be able to assist you in exploring options for plea bargaining so you can avoid the harsher sentences associated with aggravated DUI charges.
A simple DUI arrest in Alabama is a serious matter with the potential to impact nearly every facet of your life – including your personal and professional relationships, your pocketbook and your freedom.
These DUI consequences will be amplified further if you are charged with aggravated DUI. This charge often arises when someone has a blood-alcohol level that crosses the 0.15 percent threshold. Alternatively, it could be charged if someone who is over the age of 21 is arrested for a DUI while a minor who is 14 or younger is in the vehicle at the time.
State legislators recently bolstered DUI laws, specifically targeting these aggravated cases, as well as repeat offenders.
One of those measures, SB 67, also known as the “Super Drunk” DUI bill, became effective Sept. 1, 2011. Previous to this, a DUI was a DUI, with no special penalties for a person whose blood-alcohol content measured 0.15 percent or higher. What this bill did was make it so that someone whose alcohol concentration was more than double the legal limit would receive double the penalties.
So for example, let’s say this is your first DUI conviction. Normally, under Alabama Code 32-5A-191, you would face up to a year in jail, fines of up to $2,100 and a 90-day license suspension. Under the new law, with a heightened blood-alcohol level, you would face up to 2 years behind bars and fines of up to $4,200. It also calls for a minimum 1-year license suspension.
This same enhancement was already applicable to those who were caught driving drunk with a minor in the vehicle.
Someone arrested for having a minor in the vehicle could also potentially face child endangerment charges, and all of this could have an impact on parental custody and/or visitation.
At the same time SB 67 passed, another measure, HB 361 was also approved. This measure made Alabama the 50th state to pass an ignition interlock law.
Ignition interlock devices, if you aren’t familiar, are installed in the vehicles of persons convicted of DUI. They are essentially mini-breathalyzer tests that require the driver to offer a breath sample before the vehicle will start. If the device detects anything over 0.02 percent, the vehicle will be rendered immobile.
Installation and maintenance costs fall squarely on the shoulders of the offender. Typically, it’s not required for a first-time offender. However, someone convicted of an aggravated DUI will be obligated to have the device installed for a period of at least two years after his or her license is reinstated.
Our strategy as DUI defense attorneys is to, at a minimum, see if it is at all possible to have the charges reduced. This could include legal challenges to the way evidence was collected, the accuracy of devices used to collect it or the validity of those results.
When the stakes are so incredibly high, it’s critical that those facing aggravated DUI charges seek the services of an experienced defense attorney.
We have helped many clients facing aggravated DUI charges. The sooner we take a case, the sooner we can begin to work with you to build a DUI defense or negotiate a plea bargain. That’s why it’s important to contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers as soon as you know you’ll face DUI charges in Alabama.
You can call us at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.