Even the most responsible, well-meaning individual can be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. It’s possible that you were pulled over at a DUI checkpoint after a few drinks at a party, or perhaps you were pulled over for swerving and the officer thought that you swerved due to the influence of alcohol. It’s important to remember that a DUI charge is not a conviction. Many individuals believe that they can’t fight a DUI charge, but that is not the case.
The Field Sobriety Tests and the police officers that administer them are not infallible. To administer Field Sobriety Tests, law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated, often due to the odor of alcohol, red eyes or face, slurred speech, fumbling with the driver’s license, or other signs. However, an individual could exhibit these signs for any number of reasons. For example, you might have fumbled when getting out your driver’s license or registration because you were nervous. You might have red eyes due to allergies or because you were ill.
In addition, failure of the Field Sobriety Tests does not mean that you are guilty. These tests involve actions that many find difficult to perform even while sober. Other parts of the test, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, can be unreliable. The test, in which the driver follows the officer’s pen with their eyes, is supposed to demonstrate intoxication if the person’s eyes tremor unintentionally. However, this may not be a sign of intoxication but a side effect of legal prescription medication or caused by headlights passing. Even the chemical test measuring your blood alcohol level could be false, due to the consumption of certain foods or prescription medication.
In Alabama, DUI (or DWI) is the act of driving or being in physical control of a vehicle, such as a car, truck, etc., under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance. The driver must be under the influence of alcohol to the point that they are unable to safely operate the vehicle. To have committed a DUI, the driver must have a 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC). BAC is measured as the weight of alcohol present in the bloodstream. For those under 21 years of age, the legal BAC is lower, at 0.02 percent. This limit is also imposed on school bus drivers. Commercial drivers have a slightly higher limit allowed, at 0.04 percent.
States across the country, including Alabama, have increasingly cracked down on driving under the influence of alcohol. Alabama routinely puts in place DUI checkpoints all over the state throughout the year, especially around the holidays. In addition, Alabama law is particularly strict concerning DUI. In 2012, the Alabama state legislature passed a law requiring those who were convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. This law applies to all offenders, including first-time offenders. The lock must be in place in the vehicle for at least two years, depending on the number of convictions. The ignition lock prevents the driver from operating the vehicle unless they blow into the device and record a BAC or 0.02 or lower.
Other consequences of a DUI conviction are equally serious. In Alabama, a person convicted of a DUI risks imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of between $600 and $2,100, or both. Even for the first conviction, the person’s driver’s license may be revoked for 90 days. For the second and third convictions, the person faces increased fines and jail time. On the fourth conviction and beyond, the charges become a Class C felony, which could result in a fine of at least $4,100 and jail time of at least one year. A DUI conviction can seriously impact a person’s life, with large fines harming finances and jail time causing future difficulties finding employment.
As experienced Huntsville DUI attorneys who have represented numerous clients charged with a DUI, we understand that this is a frightening and stressful time. If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI, you want to get through the process as quickly as possible and minimize the damage that a potential conviction could cause.
We’re here to help. Our firm’s DUI attorneys have years of experience providing clients with expert, thorough representation to obtain the best result possible for their case.
If you or a loved one are facing a DUI charge, contact Martinson & Beason, P.C. by email or by calling (256) 533-1667.