Being arrested for drunk driving in Alabama is a very serious situation under any circumstances. The consequences for DUI are very harsh, and they may include heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, installation of an ignition interlock device, community service, and even jail time. If there are aggravated circumstances around your DUI arrest, however, you may be looking at enhanced penalties. With so much at stake, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to protect your legal rights.
At the Zach Peagler Law Firm, we know what you are up against when you are facing an aggravated DUI charge in Alabama, and we know what it takes to successfully defend against this type of charge. Attorney Zach Peagler has extensive experience practicing criminal law in the Birmingham area, and he knows the ins and outs of these types of cases, as well as how the local court system works. Zach works closely with each of his clients to develop the most effective defense strategy to mitigate the circumstances as much as possible.
Aggravated DUI in Alabama
For most Alabama drivers, you can be considered legally drunk if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or above. For those driving a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is just .04% or above, and for drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit is just .02% or above. These are the legal limits for a standard DUI, but Alabama also has laws to address those who are significantly over these limits.
Specifically, anyone who is arrested with a BAC of higher than .15% can be charged with aggravated DUI. This level of intoxication would be double the legal limit, and it would imply that the driver posed a serious danger being on the roadways after having that much to drink.
As mentioned previously, being charged with aggravated DUI can mean enhanced penalties. For example, a first time DUI offender is subject to a maximum fine of $2,100 and up to a year in county jail. However, they can often avoid jail time by performing community service. With an aggravated DUI, they are facing mandatory jail time and a maximum fine of $4,200.
In addition to higher fines and a mandatory jail sentence, aggravated DUI offenders also face a driver’s license suspension of one year instead of the 90-day administrative suspension that occurs with a simple DUI. They will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car for a minimum of two years after their driver’s license is reinstated.
An ignition interlock device is essentially a mini breathalyzer test that they must blow into before starting the vehicle and at random times while driving. If the device detects anything over .02% BAC, the vehicle is immobilized.
In addition to registering a BAC of .15% or higher, there are other circumstances that can result in a charge of aggravated or felony DUI:
A DUI with a minor who is 14 years of age or younger inside the vehicle.
Refusal to submit to the mandatory chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test after a DUI arrest.
A DUI accident that results in serious injury or death.
Speeding excessively and other forms of reckless driving.
Fleeing a police officer and/or leaving the scene of an accident.
Driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Someone who is charged for aggravated DUI with a minor in the vehicle may also be subject to child endangerment charges, which is a separate criminal charge with additional penalties. These charges could also adversely impact any custody/visitation or other parental proceeding you may be involved in.
An aggravated or felony DUI can negatively impact your life in a number of other ways as well. Having a criminal background can make it more difficult to obtain housing, financing, employment, firearms, and access to educational opportunities. For commercial drivers, it could mean the loss of their livelihood, and if your occupation requires a professional license, you may have difficulty obtaining or renewing your license with a criminal conviction on your record.
Defending Against Aggravated DUI Charges
When someone is charged with an aggravated or felony DUI, prosecutors tend to look less favorably on the idea of negotiating a plea bargain or dismissal of charges. This is not to say that it is impossible, but you will be facing more of an uphill battle in defending your case. This makes it all the more critical to work with a seasoned DUI defense attorney with the proven ability to successfully defend against these types of charges.
The defense strategy in an aggravated DUI case begins with a thorough investigation of the circumstances that resulted in your arrest. We will look to identify any and all weaknesses in the state’s case against you and use these weaknesses to secure a more favorable outcome.
Some of the areas we may look at include:
The validity of the test results.
The accuracy of the devices used to measure your blood alcohol concentration.
The procedures used to collect evidence against you.
Whether or not the police officers had reasonable suspicion to stop you and/or probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
For example, there may have been uncontrollable factors that skewed the test results, such as having acid reflux disease (which can cause someone to register an inaccurate BAC reading) or consuming a drink that is spiked with alcohol without your knowledge. There might also be a question of whether or not you were technically in physical control of the vehicle at the time of your arrest, or whether you may have driven the vehicle out of a legal necessity.
After a comprehensive examination of the specific circumstances around your DUI arrest, we will go to work immediately to put together an aggressive defense strategy with the goal of minimizing the negative consequences you are facing.
Contact an Experienced Alabama Aggravated DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated or felony DUI in Alabama, time is of the essence. Contact the Zach Peagler Law Firm right away to get started on your defense. Message us online or call our office at (205) 871-9990 for a discrete and confidential consultation with our attorney.
The following language is required pursuant to Rule 7.2, Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.