Fighting a DUI Charge in Athens, AL
Of course, no one should ever drive while impaired. That being said, we are human beings and, as such, we make mistakes. Unfortunately, making the mistake of driving while impaired can have far-reaching consequences most people are unaware of. Being charged with an Alabama DUI can be an anxiety-inducing, frightening, stressful experience. The future can look very shaky when you find yourself being charged with a DUI. Having an experienced Athens DUI attorney from Martinson & Beason by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your charges, so you should not face this crisis on your own.
How a DUI Conviction Can Alter Your Life
You may know someone who has dealt with the consequences of a DUI conviction. Perhaps they have a device on their car they must blow into prior to driving or have had to make arrangements for someone to take them to work because they lost their license. Maybe they even lost their job. While you may feel passing sympathy for them, the truth is that until it happens to you, you really have no comprehensive idea of just how far-reaching a DUI conviction can be.
- You Will Be Judged by Others–First and foremost, there is the stigma attached to being arrested for DUI. You will have to face your family, perhaps your spouse, parents or children as well as community members and co-workers. If you attend church in your community or are a member of any other organization then you will face the looks and the talk behind your back and may even lose your standing in certain groups. Your co-workers may look at you differently, and, in some cases, you could even lose your job. Further down the road you may find yourself being passed over for a promotion or a new job due to your DUI conviction.
- You Will Face a Heavy Financial Toll–The fines for a first-time Alabama DUI can be from $600 to $2,100. There may also be additional fees, and if you are required to have an interlock device installed on your vehicle or take alcohol classes, you will pay fairly heavily for those as well. For the average person, these are significant sums of money from an already overstretched budget, so the financial cost can be devastating.
- You Face Suspension or Revocation of Your Driver’s License–A first offense DUI in Alabama will result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension unless you are eligible for an ignition interlock device. If you are not eligible for the ignition interlock device, then after the ninety-day period, you may be eligible for early reinstatement of your driver’s license. Being without a driver’s license can become a significant hardship—you may be unable to get to and from work, take your children to school, run necessary errands or even go to church.
- You May Spend a Significant Amount of Time in Jail–For a first-time DUI in the state of Alabama, you could conceivably be sentenced to up to a year in jail, although it is not likely unless there were extenuating circumstances.
- Additional DUI Penalties–If you refuse a breathalyzer test, test .15 or higher, have an accident with an injury while impaired, or you have a child under the age of 14 in the car, then you will be sentenced to a mandatory 24 months of an ignition interlock device.
It is Important That You Know Your Rights During a DUI Stop
Of course, if you’ve been drinking, it’s always better to avoid driving. That being said, you don’t always have to be “drunk” to find yourself being handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police cruiser. Because of the plethora of DUI victims, virtually any amount of alcohol in your system makes you a candidate for Alabama DUI charges. You may think that because you are a responsible adult who knows your limits, that the label of “drunk driver” will never be applied to you.
Unfortunately, you could be very wrong. No matter how responsibly you drink, you, like most people, may not realize how few drinks it takes to exceed the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content. Even three beers could place the average person over the legal limit. Even more alarming, if the police officer claims you were driving while impaired, then even if your BAC was not 0.08 percent or higher, you could still be charged—and convicted—for DUI. Aside from avoiding drinking and driving altogether, what are your rights if you are stopped for a DUI?
If you find yourself being stopped by an Alabama policeman after you have been drinking—even if you only had a couple of beers—make sure you have your paperwork (registration and insurance) easily accessible. Pull over immediately, keep your hands clearly visible, be courteous, but do not admit to anything. If the officer asks if you’ve been drinking, simply ask “would you like to see my license?” or say nothing. Do not, under any circumstances admit to drinking so much as one beer.
Your admission gives him cause to pursue the matter further. If he asks you to step out of your vehicle, do not perform any of the field sobriety tests–there is no penalty for refusal. Keep in mind that no one ever “passes” a roadside sobriety test, not even the sober. If the officer persists in forcing you to take a Breathalyzer or blood test and the results show you have been drinking, you must immediately retain the services of an experienced Athens DUI attorney. This step can make the difference in whether you are convicted or not.
How a Knowledgeable Martinson & Beason Attorney Can Help
Police Officers are human beings, and as such make human mistakes. Often, the mistakes which are made during a DUI stop, as well as the subsequent arrest and investigation, can render evidence against the DUI defendant which is ultimately inadmissible in court. A knowledgeable Athens DUI attorney from Martinson & Beason who practices this area of the law, day in and day out–and is highly cognizant of Alabama laws regarding DUI–can be your very best hope for a positive outcome if you are dealing with a DUI. Finally, do always call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately who will be able to advise you of your rights and protect you from anything which could jeopardize your future chances in court.