A DUI conviction is not only embarrassing but can severely ruin your reputation with coworkers, family and friends and not to mention damage your criminal record. Penalties vary depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Birmingham you have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV Administrative Hearing or your license will be automatically suspended.
The single most important benefit of hiring a Birmingham DUI attorney is that they provide you with vital advice about your case. One of the biggest mistakes many DUI offenders make when they face the judge or while in police custody is mistakenly providing evidence that may incriminate them; this is never good for any case. An attorney will advise you as to what to do/say and also what not to do/say at various stages of the case. This goes a long way in helping you get the best possible outcome.
Police must follow strict rules and procedures during a traffic stop. They must have proper cause for the stop, follow the law when collecting evidence, and inform you of your Miranda Rights. If the police didn’t follow the law closely, you may be able to challenge part or all of the evidence brought against you, including breath tests. How do you know if your rights were violated? When should you bring in an expert to testify on your behalf? Every case is different, so there are no firm answers. But if you want answers about your options for defending yourself against drunk driving charges, speak with a local DUI defense lawyer.
Overview of DUI Crimes in Birmingham
Those charged with drunk driving for the first time are often have available to them a number of defenses. An experienced Birmingham DUI lawyer will be familiar with a broad range of possible legal defenses in each drunk driving case. Each case is unique and should be treated as such.
A second or third drunk driving conviction could mean mandatory jail time and pricey fines. A lawyer can argue to have prior convictions eliminated, disqualified or suppressed, effectively minimizing the consequences of multiple convictions.
A DUI charge that is involved with an injury will be considered a felony. When deaths are involved, the crime can either be vehicular homicide, manslaughter, or second-degree murder. Factors complicate the conviction because the district attorneys have their own standard for determining the level of injury, the negligence or the implied malice for the death.
DUI convictions become stricter if you are under 21 years of age. Since the legal age to drink is 21, any BAC level of 0.01 or higher is an automatic DUI and an automatic one-year license suspension on top of the normal DUI penalties.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) applies certain rules for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol to drivers with a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) while driving a commercial motor vehicle. A commercial DUI is defined as having a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater. Police officers and the commercial driver’s employer are allowed to randomly test commercial drivers for drug or alcohol abuse before, during, or after driving a commercial vehicle. The state or local police may test a driver on suspicion of driving under the influence or following an accident.
When a police officer assumes a driver is intoxicated, field sobriety tests can be conducted in order to determine probable cause for arrest. These tests are very skewed and can always have plenty of room for error.
Roadside breath tests are used to measure the blood alcohol content and give probable cause to make an arrest; however, these tests are flawed and not always accurate. Like the field sobriety tests, there are imperfections in the breathalyzer test. One such problem is that the breathalyzer machine cannot analyze the difference between alcohol molecules in the deep lung air or the molecules that have been trapped in the mouth due to dental work or food traps. Another problem is that the breathalyzer test does not measure breath temperature. Someone’s breath temperature can change due to sickness or participating in sports activities, which alters and increases the alcohol percentage.
Birmingham DUI First Offense Penalties
DUI rules and regulations are found in the Alabama Code section 32-5A-191. Under this code, a DUI not only pertains to the BAC over the legal limit of .08 or higher, but it also pertains to being under the influence of any kind of alcohol or controlled substances that may cause you to be driving impaired. Violating any of these conditions under the code could lead to legal penalties.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, potential penalties for a first DUI offense include:
- Up to 1 year of imprisonment in jail.
- A fine between $500 and $2,000.
- An additional $100 fine to be put into the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.
- A requirement that you attend DUI school. You will be required to pay the costs of school attendance.
- The suspension of your driver’s license.
Unfortunately, the court or the DMV have the rights to suspend your license in the state of Alabama. This could be one of the hardest punishments that one would have to deal with. Under this code, a suspension of license can occur within 45 days of being arrested for a DUI. Refusing to take a BAC test could also result in a suspension of license.
A DUI conviction, whether its your first or second, can have serious impact on your life. Not only will your license be suspended and you could face jail time but you will also have a tainted record that could be used against you in further related offenses.
Successfully Defending a DUI Charge
Representing yourself in the court or pleading guilty could only harm your case even more. You should find out all the facts about your case before moving forward with any course of action. Know your rights before moving forward with your case alone or with an attorney.