As with every other state, driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in Alabama. An Auburn driver who is convicted for drunk driving can end up with some very severe criminal penalties, which can include heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, the requirement to install an ignition interlock device in the vehicle, and even jail time. This is something that can never be taken lightly, and anyone who is arrested for DUI should immediately get in touch with an experienced Auburn criminal defense attorney.
All that said, not every DUI arrest gets charged the same way. In some cases, someone who is arrested for drunk driving will be charged with a misdemeanor, while in other cases, it could be upgraded to a felony. This is a very significant distinction, because felony charges are much more serious, and the penalties can even include extended prison time.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI in Auburn, AL
In the majority of cases, someone who is arrested for DUI in Alabama will be charged with a misdemeanor. With a misdemeanor DUI, you will be looking at fines starting at $600 if this is your first offense, an administrative driver’s license suspension which starts at 90 days, and a maximum of one year in county jail. In reality, however, you can usually avoid jail time for a first offense if you do community service or successfully complete a DUI diversion program.
As we touched on previously, if your DUI is upgraded to a felony, you will be facing far more severe consequences. But the good news is that most Alabama drivers will not be charged with a felony DUI.
Even if this is your second or third offense, you will still probably only be charged with a misdemeanor. And even aggravated circumstances such as refusing to take the mandatory chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test after your DUI arrest, child endangerment, or a DUI accident with serious injuries does not automatically upgrade your charge to a felony.
The one thing that will automatically trigger a felony DUI charge is if this is your fourth or subsequent offense within the past 10 years. The look back period in Alabama used to be five years, but the law was changed to 10 years in 2018. In addition, if you have a prior felony conviction at any time in your past – even 30 years ago – you will be charged with a felony DUI under the new law.
Penalties for a Felony DUI in Alabama
Here are the penalties you will be facing if you are charged with a felony DUI in Auburn:
- Fines starting at $4,100 up to a maximum of $10,100;
- A minimum of one year and one day up to a maximum of 10 years in state prison;
- Driver’s license revocation for a minimum of five years;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle for five years after your driver’s license is reinstated;
- The requirement to complete a certified chemical dependency program.
Having a felony conviction on your record can adversely impact your future in several other ways as well. For example, being a convicted felon can make it more difficult to obtain housing, employment, financing, admission to college, and firearms. And if this happens while you are a student at Auburn or another nearby college, you could end up getting expelled from school.
In some cases, a felony DUI could even cost someone their livelihood. For example, if your occupation requires a professional license, your license could be suspended, or you may not be able to renew it with the felony on your record. The same holds true for someone who drives for a living and requires a commercial license to maintain their position.
Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Auburn, AL DUI Defense Attorney
Getting charged with a felony DUI in Alabama can be frightening, but a DUI charge is not the same as a conviction. There are numerous potential defenses that could be employed, and depending on your situation, it may be possible to get the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. With so much on the line, it is very important to get in touch with an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible, so they can get started on your case.
If you have been charged for drunk driving In Auburn, Opelika, or any of the nearby areas, contact Alsobrook Law Group today for legal help. Message us online or call our office at 334.737.3718 to schedule a free consultation with our attorney.