Avoid a DUI in Alabama (5 Things You Need to Know about DUI)

To avoid a DUI in Alabama, you should know at least these five things.


I.  DUI in Alabama
II. Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest
VI. Resources

I. DUI in Alabama

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. It’s called DUI in Alabama. The crime occurs occurs if a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers it’s 0.04% or over. And for drivers under 21, including adults 18 through 20, it’s 0.02% or over.

Alabama has a zero tolerance alcohol policy toward drivers under 21. But it doesn’t insist on a BAC of 0.00%. That’s because the state wants to reduce the chances of convicting innocent young drivers.

The logic is sound. “Breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers are unreliable. They don’t measure BAC. (That requires the analysis of a sample of actual blood.) They only estimate BAC.

Another problem is that everyone produces alcohol naturally within their bodies. And they do this 24/7. Obviously, that includes all young drivers.

Also, many medications and foods contain alcohol. Surprisingly, this includes baked goods such as bread.

So permitting BACs under 0.02% is good government policy.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties imposed for DUI in Alabama vary. Many factors cause these differences. They include such things as

  • Driver’s Age.
  • Type of license.
  • Estimated BAC.
  • The impairing substance(s)
  • Any prior DWIs.
  • Consequences of the DUI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
  • Any minors in the vehicle.
  • Skill of driver’s attorney.
  • Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.

Also, police and judges have wide discretion. Therefore, drivers may be arrested for DUI with BACs below these limits

Officers suspend driving licenses immediately upon arrest for suspected DUI. Obviously, this occurs even if the driver is innocent. All drivers whose licenses are suspended must complete a substance abuse or DUI court referral program. Again, even if they’re innocent.

First DUI

 DUI in AlabamaDriver’s license suspension for 90 days.
• Jail for up to one year.
• Fine of $500 to $2,000.
• Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

Second DUI

• Driver’s license suspension for one year.
• Jail for two days to one year (must serve minimum) or community service for at least 20 days.
• Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
• Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

Third DUI within Five Years

Driver’s license suspension for three years.
• Jail for 60 days to one year.
• Fine of $2,000 to $10,000.
• Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

Fourth or a Later DUI

• Driver’s license suspension for five years.
• Prison for one to ten years.
• Fine of $4,000 to $10,000.
• Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This prevents vehicle from starting if alcohol is on the driver’s breath. Learn more about ignition interlock devices.
• Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

Ignition Interlock Device

dui in alabama
Ignition Interlock Device

An Ignition interlock device (IID) prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is on the breath of the driver. When a judge orders an IID, the offender must pay all installation, maintenance, and monitoring costs.

Judges may order an IID if any one of the following applies to the offender.
• Has a first DUI offense with a BAC of 0.15 or higher.
• Committed a DUI with a passenger under age 14.
• Has multiple DUI offenses.
• Caused crash because of DUI.

III. The Costs: DUI in Alabama

Legal Defense

Getting charged with an DUI in Alabama is very expensive. It is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

The cost of a legal DUI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.

It’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.

Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DUI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the high costs of an DUI is very useful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dui in alabamaAll drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline submitting to chemical testing. However, the state punishes drivers who use their right

First Use of Constitutional Right

• Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days even if not arrested.
• Possible denial of any restricted license.
• Judge may order installation of an IID in vehicle.

Second Use of Constitutional Right

• Suspension of driver’s license for one year even if not arrested.
• Possible denial of any restricted license.
• Judge may order installation of an IID in vehicle.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dui in alabamaNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people is much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. You won’t like what you learn. But knowledge is power. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over.

 V. Avoid Arrest

Obviously, one way to avoid a OUI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal. Maintain a low BAC.

These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

dui in alabama
Standard Drinks
  • Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.
  • Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Never engage in any drinking game.
  • Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.

Arrested for DUI in Alabama?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. It also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with an DUI in Alabama, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. And better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

The Martingale guide offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.

VI. Resources: DUI in Alabama

Is a first DUI a felony in the State?

How Likely is Jail Time for a First DUI?

What Happens When You are Arrested for a DUI?