If police arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving, your situation may already be bad. The embarrassment and inconvenience of a traffic stop and arrest may pale in comparison to the effects of a conviction. A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol can mean fines, license suspension and the potential for spending time in jail.
These are just the beginning of the possible consequences for a first-time DUI. Unfortunately, there are factors that can make that bad situation even worse. The circumstances surrounding your arrest may lead to more severe penalties and even the potential for a felony charge against you.
What is ahead?
Many believe a first-time DUI conviction is little more than a traffic ticket. In Alabama, this is not always the case. Lawmakers and law enforcement are increasingly tightening the penalties for DUI. You may end up with jail or probation, fines reaching into the thousands of dollars, and a license suspension that may create a burden for your loved ones.
However, certain conditions may increase those penalties significantly, including the following:
- Your blood alcohol concentration is .15 or higher.
- You have a child in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.
- You refuse to take a breath test after police arrest you.
- You are involved in an accident that causes property damage or bodily injury.
- You are driving on an already suspended license.
- You have previous DUI convictions on your record.
Even one previous conviction can double your fines and obligate the court to send you to jail. A fourth DUI in Alabama is a felony charge. This places you at risk of a lengthy prison sentence and extended license suspension, among other penalties. Imagine how your life will change and how your family will struggle under these conditions.
What to do next?
You will have many decisions to make following an arrest for drunk driving. You will have to decide how you will plead and whether you will fight the charges. Your most important decision may be whether to hire an attorney to defend you. Having a skilled attorney means having someone with experience who can examine and evaluate the evidence against you. An attorney will also recognize whether authorities have violated your rights at any point.
Your legal counsel can advise you on the best course of action to take in light of your circumstances and help you build a solid defense strategy. These factors may benefit you as your case progresses.