Once you have received a DUI, it is very important that you get to a lawyer immediately not only because you will need representation in the actual substantive DUI trial but there are ways to protect and litigate the loss of your Driver’s License.  If your Driver’s License is suspended, you should know that your insurance will NOT cover you if you are in an accident and this is much worse than the ticket you will receive for Driving with a Suspended License.

The first notice you should receive regarding the Administrative Suspension of a DUI is a copy of the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) Safety Form called the AST 60.  Generally, the copy provided will be a bright, canary yellow copy.  This document is important because it is the first notice of intended suspension of driving privileges and an affidavit of the arresting officer.  This document is a two-sided document and the back of the document is the notification to you that you can have an Administrative Hearing so long as your request is made in writing within ten days of the notice of the intended suspension.

It is the position of the Department of Public Safety that by presenting the AST 60 to you is the first notice of the intended suspension.  If you miss making that request within ten days, you forfeit your request to have an Administrative Hearing and you are not able to go back at some later date and appeal the administrative suspension of your driving privileges.  If you examine the front of the AST 60 carefully, you will see that the older form contains some errors regarding the length of time that the AST 60 permits you to operate a motor vehicle.

Once you have made your request for an Administrative Hearing, it will be set down in front of one of the hearing officers in the county where you were arrested usually within two to four weeks.  The Administrative Hearing shall be held as quickly as practical and not more than 30 days of the filing of the request for a hearing.  If your request is not timely provided, this is grounds to appeal the Administrative Hearing.  Another interesting area to examine is whether or not the law enforcement officer that arrested you for a violation of Title 32-5A-191, Code of Alabama (1975), provided the sworn testimony to DPS within five days after the date of the arrest.  Those five days exclude weekends and State holidays, Title 32-5A-301, Code of Alabama (1975).  The issues will be determined at the hearing are very narrow in scope and an attorney experienced in this area is a necessity to litigate these matters.

The arresting officer will generally not attend the Administrative Hearing and the testimony provided by the arresting officer is generally contained in the probable cause portion of the AST 60 form.  After receiving your decision from the Administrative Hearing, within 30 days from the mail date of that decision, an appeal to the Circuit Court in the County where the offense was alleged to have been committed may be filed.  The mere filing of this petition does not stay the suspension of your client’s driving privileges.

Suspension times on DUI vary greatly depending upon whether it is treated as a first, second, third, fourth or subsequent conviction and whether or not it contains a violation of 32-5A-191(A)(3) or (4).  You should be very careful in entering a plea to a violation of 32-5A-191(A)(3) or (4) because you will receive an additional suspension based on the controlled substance element of those offenses.  Pursuant to Title 13A-12-291, Code of Alabama (1975), a driver’s license shall be suspended pursuant to 13(A)-12-290, Code of Alabama (1975), for the conviction, adjudication or finding of delinquency based on the following crimes:

  1. Driving under the Influence of a Controlled Substance
  2. Driving Under the Influence of Combined Substances of alcohol and a controlled substance.

You will note that in addition to a conviction the Code of Alabama (1975), also includes adjudication, which will apply to Youthful Offenders and finding of delinquency, which would apply to juveniles.  Even if you are granted Youthful Offender Status or if prosecuted in Juvenile Court, notice is still provided to the Department of Public Safety and suspensions as though they are prosecuted as an adult.

The period of suspension for the DUI shall be as follows, Title 32-5A-304, Code of Alabama (1975):

  1. 90 days if the driving record of the person shows no prior alcohol or drug related law enforcement contacts during the immediate proceeding five years;
  2. 1 year if the driving record of the person shows one prior alcohol or drug related law enforcement contact during the immediate proceeding five years;
  3. 3 years if the driving record of the person shows two or three prior alcohol or drug related law enforcement contact during the immediate proceeding five years;
  4. 5 years if the driving record of the person shows four or more prior alcohol or drug related enforcement contacts during the immediate proceeding five years.

One exception to the length of suspension for a conviction to a violation of Title 32-5A-191(B), Code of Alabama (1975), which holds that a person under the age of 21 who has a blood / alcohol content of not less than .02 nor greater than .08 should receive a 30 day suspension of their driving privileges in lieu of any additional punishments other than payment of court costs.

For purposes of this section an alcohol or drug related law enforcement contact shall include any suspension under this article, any suspension or revocation entered in this or any other state for refusing to submit to a chemical test under the implied consent law in any conviction in this or any other state for a violation which includes driving a motor vehicle or having an unlawful percent of alcohol in the blood or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  This statute goes further to indicate that only one law enforcement contact can be utilized per DUI conviction.  This statute further sets out that if a person’s driving privileges are suspended based on the refusal, a subsequent conviction of Title 32-5A-191, Code of Alabama (1975),  will not result in any additional suspension time.

Some other interesting areas from an administrative aspect to be aware of are the point suspensions utilized by DPS.  The following schedule was issued to determine the length of a suspension period.

12 – 14 points              60 days

14 – 17 points              90 days

18 – 20 points             120 days

21 – 23 points              180 days

24 and above               365 days

 

The point’s computations are included in a two-year period.  If you should receive notice that an Administrative Suspension of your driving privileges is taking place based on points, you may request an Administrative Hearing in a similar fashion as outlined herein.  If you receive a decision adverse to your interest at the Administrative Hearing an appeal can be obtained by filing in your county of residence within 30 days of the receipt from the hearing officer after the Administrative Hearing.  A qualified attorney is highly recommended in this situation to deal with helping reduce and litigate your suspension time.

Points are assessed for various violations as follows:

  1. Any conviction which resulted from a charge that involved the drinking of an alcoholic beverage and the driving of a motor vehicle but did not require mandatory revocation of the driver’s license………………………………………………………6 points
  2. Reckless Driving……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6 points
  3. Speeding (80) MPH or above……………………………………………………………………………………………………………5 points
  4. Failure to Yield Right of Way…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….5 points
  5. Passing Stopped School Bus……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..5 points
  6. Wrong Side of Road………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..4 points
  7. Illegal Passing………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….4 points
  8. Following Too Close………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..3 points
  9. Disregarding Traffic Control Device (stop sign, traffic light, etc.)……………………………………………………………….3 points
  10. Speeding in excess of posted limits……………………………………………………………………………………………………..2 points
  11. All other moving……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..2 points

 

Another interesting change is in the amount of reinstatement fees.  Reinstatement fees have been increased as follows:

  1. Suspension and / or Cancellation………………………………………………………………………………………………….$100.00
  2. Revocation………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………$175.00
  3. DUI……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….$275.00
  4. DUI with License Revoked…………………………………………………………………………………………………………$275.00
  5. Drug Fee (additional fee)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….$275.00
  6. Failure to Surrender License within 30 days……………………………………………………………………………………$50.00

 

Hankins v. State (2007) – This case held that DUI priors are limited to five years to be used for sentencing enhancement!!!!