Pulled over for DUI

What to Do if You’re Pulled Over for DUI in Alabama

Being stopped for drunk driving in Alabama can be a frightening experience, especially if this is the first time. There are harsh legal consequences for a DUI conviction, such as heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. The outcome of your case will depend heavily on what you do during the initial stop and the steps you take shortly thereafter.

There are several “dos” and “don’ts” to follow during a DUI stop and subsequent arrest:

Do be Respectful

When you are pulled over for DUI, it is understandable to be rattled and shaken. However, do your best to stay calm and maintain your composure. No matter how the officer is treating you, it is always in your best interests be polite, courteous, and respectful. Never be rude to an officer, and if they ask you to step out of the car, comply with their request without complaint. The way you conduct yourself at the initial stop could be helpful later on in negotiating a deal with the prosecutor.

Do Provide the Required Information

There are three pieces of information you are required to provide a police officer when you are stopped; your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Have these documents ready to hand over to the officer when he/she approaches your vehicle. Try to avoid having to fish around for this information when the officer is at your window. Provide the required information when the officer asks for it, then place both hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them.

Don’t Answer Additional Questions

After you have provided the officer with the required information, you are under no obligation to answer any further questions. It is important to understand that if an officer pulls you over for DUI, they already suspect that you are guilty. The questions they ask you may seem like “small talk”, but they are designed to obtain probable cause for a DUI arrest. If an officer asks you how much you have had to drink, do not give them an answer like, “just a couple of beers.”  Do not admit to any type of guilt at all. Instead, politely decline to answer the question and let the officer know that you need to speak with your attorney first.

Don’t Submit to a Field Sobriety Test (FST)

Field sobriety tests are those that are conducted at the roadside during a DUI stop. Examples may include walking a straight line, standing on one leg, or following an object with your eyes. Preliminary alcohol screenings (PAS) are another type of FST that help establish your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time you are pulled over. In general, there is no good reason to submit to a field sobriety test unless you are absolutely certain that you are under the legal limit of .08 BAC. Without the results from an FST, there is less evidence that can be used against you to establish probable cause for the arrest and eventually obtain a conviction.

Do Submit to the Chemical Test after the Arrest

Under Alabama’s “implied consent” law, you are required to submit to a chemical (breath, blood or urine) test if probable cause is found to place you under arrest for DUI. Refusal to take this test can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license along with other enhanced penalties. Your refusal may also be used as evidence by the prosecutor to argue to the jury that you are guilty of what you are charged with.

Do Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer

Many individuals who are pulled over for drunk driving wonder if it will make any difference to contact a DUI attorney. After all, if the police and prosecution already have proof that you were over the legal limit, how is a lawyer going to get you out of it? Although the state may have ample evidence against you, there are often weaknesses in their case that are not always readily apparent. A DUI lawyer can thoroughly assess the specific circumstances of your case and put together the most effective defense strategy to minimize the negative consequences as much as possible.

For a discreet and confidential consultation with our skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney, call our office today at (334) 345-2765, or send us a message through our online contact form.

DUI and the Holidays

DUI and the Holidays

The holidays are a festive season that we love to enjoy with our family and friends. For most of us, this is a favorite time of the year when we look forward to time off from work and more time celebrating with those closest to us. Many of the parties and gatherings we attend involve alcohol, and sadly, this causes an increase in drunk driving and DUI-related accidents during this time of year.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports some sobering statistics regarding DUI and the holidays. From 2012 through 2016 (the last five years on record), just under 4,000 individuals were killed in crashes that involved drunk driving in the month of December. This accounts for 28% of auto accident fatalities during the last month of the year. Just in the week of Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve alone, an average of over 300 individuals per year are killed in DUI-related crashes.

Alabama police are well-aware of the spike in drunk driving during the holidays, and you can expect beefed up enforcement in all 67 counties throughout the state during the month of December and into New Year’s. There will be more officers patrolling the streets, and an increase in DUI checkpoints to try and keep the situation under control.

If you are arrested for drunk driving in Alabama, the consequences can be very harsh. Penalties for DUI in the Yellowhammer State just for a first-offense may include:

  • Fines of up to $2100 plus court costs;
  • Up to one year in county jail or mandatory probation;
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 90 days or the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID);
  • Mandatory substance abuse evaluation and treatment.

Penalties may be enhanced if there are aggravated circumstances such as a second or subsequent DUI, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher, child endangerment, and DUIs involving serious injury or death.

A DUI conviction can cost you in several other ways as well. For example, having a drunk driving conviction on your criminal record can make it more difficult to obtain housing, loans, employment, and admission to college. And if your job requires a professional license, you may have difficulty obtaining the license or getting it renewed.

Staying Safe and Avoiding a DUI During the Holidays

With Alabama law enforcement on high alert this time of year, there is no sense putting yourself or others at risk by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated during the holiday season. Here are four tips to help you stay safe at your holiday gatherings:

1. Bring a Designated Driver

If possible, bring someone along who is going to stay sober for the evening. Even if they don’t drive you there, they can always drive your car home if necessary. If you can’t find a designated driver to come along with you, try to at least have someone available to call for a ride home when the evening is over.

2. Use a Cab or Rideshare Service

If there is no one among your group of friends that is sober and able to drive you home, plan to take a cab or Uber. Have the phone number to a cab company, or have your information prepopulated in the ridesharing app on your phone to make it easier to contact them when you’re ready to go.

3. Plan to Stay at a Hotel/Motel or a Friend’s House

One of the best ways to avoid a DUI during the holidays is to book a room at a hotel or motel near the party, or plan to stay at a friend’s place that is nearby. This way, you can go to the party without any worries about how you will get home.

4. Stick to the Plan

Planning ahead for your holiday party is great, but the plan can only work if you commit to sticking to it. Sometimes after people drink too much, they exercise poor judgment and deviate from the plan. For example, you might think, “I’m only a couple blocks from home, so I’m okay to drive.” Do NOT fall into this trap.Decide ahead of time that you will not drive drunk under any circumstances, and if needed, have someone else along who you can count on to hold you accountable.

Pulled Over for Drunk Driving? Contact an Alabama DUI Attorney

Maybe you already made the mistake of getting behind the wheel drunk and got arrested for DUI. If so, you need strong legal counsel in your corner to help mitigate the circumstances as much as possible. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have an in-depth understanding of Alabama DUI laws, and we know the most effective defense strategies to minimize the negative consequences of a drunk driving arrest. For a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys, call our office today at 334-737-3718, or send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

witness testimony

How Reliable Are Witnesses to a Crime?

When you’ve been formally charged with a criminal offense, there is a lot at stake. Maybe someone mistakenly fingered you in a lineup or believes that they saw you take part in a criminal act. Unless you plead guilty to that crime, which we don’t normally recommend, it will be up to the state of Alabama to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

One of the ways that the state will attempt to prove guilt in a criminal case is through the testimony of witnesses. The fact that your fate may be in the hands of any number of witnesses is likely a terrifying prospect. So, how reliable are these witness testimonies? It turns out they are less reliable than the legal system would like you to believe.

The Basics of a Criminal Prosecution

As a criminal prosecution state, it is the responsibility of the prosecuting attorney to present enough evidence to a judge or jury that proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The “reasonable doubt” threshold is the highest legal standard in the U.S. justice system, and many legal scholars and experts believe that a guilty verdict equates to a 99 percent or greater probability of the defendant’s guilt.

Not only does this mean that a lot of stock is placed on a guilty verdict in a criminal case, but also that the evidence used to reach that verdict is critical. When there is an error in the evidence or a tainted witness, there is a chance that an innocent party could be wrongly convicted.

When Witness Testimony is Presented at Trial?

There are several types of evidence that might be used in a criminal trial. The prosecution might present physical, documentary, demonstrative, and testimonial evidence. Testimonial evidence refers to having witnesses tell what they know, saw, or heard to support the prosecution’s case.

Regarding witness testimony, jurors are instructed to decide for themselves the believability of a witness. Eyewitnesses are not the same as experts who will testify about an area of specialty. Instead, these witnesses relay the facts as they experienced them when the crime took place.

How Reliable Are Witnesses to a Crime?

Jurors must decide whether they believe that a witness is reliable and credible, but there have been some studies that relate to the reliability of crime witnesses. In short, there can be some significant flaws in eyewitness testimony that could impact the outcome of a criminal case.

According to the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations, more than 1,400 people convicted of serious crimes over the past 25 years have been proven innocent. In many of these cases, a significant factor that led to these false convictions was faulty eyewitness testimony.

The fact is that the testimony of eyewitnesses can be seriously flawed for several reasons including:

  • The presence of weapons at a crime that causes stress;
  • Other stresses at the crime scene or during the identification process;
  • The perpetrator’s use of a disguise during the crime;
  • Racial disparities between the accused and the witness, known as “cross-racial identification,” which makes remembering or distinguishing certain characteristics more difficult;
  • Brief times allotted for viewing witnesses in a lineup or during other procedures;
  • Darkness, distance, or extreme weather conditions when the crime took place that might obscure visibility;
  • Any subtle suggestions from law enforcement that prompt witnesses to choose one suspect over another; and
  • Characteristics of witnesses that make recall difficult such as age-related memory loss, not wearing prescribed glasses, or the consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Any one or several of these factors could lead a witness to a crime to be unreliable. Even victims can make many of these same errors and accuse the wrong person of committing a crime. If you have been charged with a crime, even if there are witnesses, that does not mean that your conviction is a certainty.

Speak with a Qualified Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of a criminal offense in Alabama, you need to speak with a qualified defense attorney about effective defense strategies for your case. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have experience representing clients throughout Auburn, Opelika, and Lee County in some of the most serious criminal cases. Contact our office now at 334-737-3718 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.