Getting stopped for drunk driving can be a very frightening experience, especially if this is your first time. There is a lot of uncertainty about what to expect next. Will I have to pay a big fine? Will I lose my driving privileges? Will I have to go to jail? These and numerous other questions will be running through your mind.
You might have already spent a couple of days in the county jail, and the last thing you want to do is go back there. The bad news is that even for a first time DUI conviction in Alabama, you are looking at fines of between $600 in $2100, and up to one year in jail. The good news is that most first-time offenders will not have to serve the maximum term, and in many cases, they can avoid jail time altogether.
If this is your second or subsequent drunk driving offense during the past 10 years or there are aggravating circumstances such as a child endangerment charge, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is well above the legal limit, or a DUI accident with serious bodily injuries or fatalities, then it will be more difficult to avoid jail time for your DUI charge.
Multiple DUI offenses carry minimum jail sentences. For example, if you have two DUIs within 10 years, you must serve a minimum of two days up to one year in jail. For three DUI offenses, the minimum jail sentence is 60 days, and for four or more DUIs, the minimum is one year in state prison.
Even with multiple offenses and/or aggravated circumstances, there are still ways to avoid jail time from your DUI charge, depending on the specifics of the case. For example, for a second-time DUI, you may have the option to perform at least 20 days of community service instead of serving jail time. You may also be eligible to participate in a pretrial diversion program that serves as an alternative to going to jail.
DUI Defense Strategies to Avoid a Conviction
Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where there is very little chance of avoiding jail time if you are convicted for drunk driving. When this is the case, then your only option may be to fight the charges against you.
Defending your DUI charge might seem like an uphill battle, but it is not necessarily impossible. Simply being charged for drunk driving does not automatically mean you will be convicted, and there are a number of potential defense strategies that could be used to avoid a conviction, or at the very least, negotiate a reduction to a less serious charge.
Here are some DUI defense strategies that your attorney might use:
- Lack of Probable Cause: In order to be validly charged for DUI, the law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion to lawfully stop you and probable cause to arrest you. If it can be established that there was a lack of probable cause, then any evidence obtained after the stop could be subject to suppression at trial.
- Unreliable Breathalyzer Test: There are numerous potential problems with the preliminary breath test (PBT) that is often administered at the time the driver is stopped and the chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test that is given usually at the police station after the DUI arrest. These may include equipment malfunction, improper handling by the police, and many others. If the reliability of these tests can be called into question, then the case for a DUI conviction would be weaker.
- Unreliable Field Sobriety Test (FST): The field sobriety tests that are often given during a DUI stop are not necessarily reliable indicators of a motorist’s impairment. For one thing, they are administered by law enforcement officers who already suspect that the motorist is impaired, and they cannot credibly claim to be objective. In addition, the physical condition of the motorist can play a major role in the result of an FST, regardless of whether or not they have alcohol in their system.
These are just a few of the possible defenses that could be used to fight a DUI charge and help avoid jail time. As always, the strategy used in your case will depend on the specific circumstances. In all cases, it is important to work with a skilled DUI defense attorney who has the proven ability to secure favorable outcomes for their clients.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged for DUI in the Mobile, AL area, contact Coumanis & York for legal help. Message us online or call our office right away at 251-990-3083 (Daphne) or 251.431-7272 (Mobile) for a consultation and case assessment. We are ready to defend your legal rights, and we will put our extensive experience to work to minimize the negative consequences as much as possible.