In the State of Alabama, under Title 32-5A-191, Code of Alabama (1975), the Legislature has set out the ways a person can be found guilty or the five ways a person can be charged with Driving Under the Influence:
A person may be prosecuted for DUI under Five different methods of proof:
(a) ”A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle while:
(1) There is a .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood;
(2) Under the Influence of alcohol;
(3) Under the influence of a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving;
(4) Under the combined influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving; or
(5) Under the influence of any substance which impairs the mental or physical faculties of such person to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving.”
We have jointly tried and handled hundreds of DUI cases all over this State but specifically in the Shelby County and the Greater Birmingham area. We have had the privilege of representing numerous members of the Alabama State Bar including lawyers and members of the Court system.
Punishments vary in DUI cases depending upon whether it is treated as a first, second, third, fourth or felony conviction. On a first conviction, the fine is not less than $600 or more than $210; a second conviction is not less than $1100 or more than $1500 ; a third conviction is not less than $2100 or more than $10,100 ; and finally on a fourth or Felony DUI conviction, not less than $4100 or more than $10,100.
Potential jail sentences vary in these cases also. Upon a first conviction, a person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county or municipal jail for no more than one year or by the above stated fine. On a second conviction, within a five-year period, a person convicted of violating this section shall be punished by the above monetary range and imprisonment in the county or municipal jail for not more than one year. The jail time on the second DUI can be probated but a minimum of five days in jail or thirty days of community service has to be ordered by the Judge. On a third conviction, a person convicted of DUI will be punished by the monetary fine and a term of incarceration in the county or municipal jail for a term of not less than 60 days nor more than one year. On a fourth or subsequent conviction, a person shall be sentenced to the monetary amount and by imprisonment of not less than one year and one day nor more than 10 years.
The standard for blood alcohol is different for persons under the age of 21 years. The law says a person who is less than 21 years shall not drive or be in actual, physical control of any vehicle if there is .02 percentage or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood.
Driver’s license suspension is very complicated because you can get your license suspended for refusing for taking the breath test at the jail after your arrest and for a conviction. Please read our section on administrative suspensions and how to save your driver’s license. We can file an appeal with the Department of Public Safety and obtain a stay order to stop the State from suspending your license administratively. However, you may have to serve some suspension time but much less when the case is litigated.
We handle DUI cases in all the cities in Shelby County and the Greater Birmingham areas. Many of these cities have deferred programs for DUI but each city, county and municipality is different and we will walk you through the process for the location for your particular case. Our firm has handled cases in almost every city and all the surrounding counties. These cases can be very difficult to try in front of a jury because the mentality has become that a person charged with DUI must be guilty because it is their word versus the police. However, we have still secured many not guilty verdicts for our clients.
We also have done extensive research to attack field sobriety tests in DUI cases. For example, in the original study on DUI arrests, a total of 238 subjects participated in the study. Seventy were women and the age ranged from 20 to 70 years old. Ten police officers administered field sobriety to the subjects with blood alcohol ranges from .00 to .15. The study found that officers were able to correctly estimate whether someone should be arrested 76% of the time. Even though 6 people were given no alcohol at all, six of the ten police officers stated that they would have arrested them. The study was done by Marcelline Burns and Herbert Moskowitz (1977). This study was performed specifically for the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and lasted for a 20 month period of time. Another large problem, with field sobriety tests, is that they have not been tested in a controlled environment on a large, representative of sober people so there is no “normal” score. Even NHTSA claims that when optimally used, field sobriety tests are only 80% accurate. National Highway Traffic Safety Adm., U.S. Dept. of Transportation, HS 178 R2/00, DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Student Manual (2000). This is just a sampling of the research our firm has done to attack the many errors that take place with field sobriety testing.