DUI in Alabama
May 8, 2009 12:50 PM   Subscribe

My friend got a DUI, it's his first one, he lives in Alabama. What to expect and what should he do?

Hi all,

my friend in Alabama got a dui last night. His BAC was .15% and he was taken to jail and stayed there for 12 hours.

When he got home, he started researching what a first offense entails and to his horror, it had a max of 1 year in jail, suspended license and other nasties. He's very scared now as he has three kids and a job that he would surely loose.

I'm asking on his behalf on what the likelihood of him serving any jail time at all and getting his license suspended. He's a good citizen and no criminal background at all (well, one ticket for an expired tag). He just made a mistake.

He is indeed seeking out an attorney to see what he should do at this juncture as that feels like the most secure thing to do. But even then, he's still frightened. Also, when he was let out of the cell this morning, he said that the Policeman seemed to think he would be okay and wouldn't serve any jail time either, but still...I know it's ultimately up to the judge.

He would also agree to go to classes to have the sentence reduced.
posted by Hands of Manos to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Get an attorney. It's almost always worth retaining counsel for a serious charge like this. My wife is a DUI defense attorney, so that obviously colors my suggestion. But yeah, lawyer up(!).
posted by zpousman at 12:55 PM on May 8, 2009

Lawyer. Now. Choose someone who handles a lot of these sorts of cases in your jurisdiction; not only will they know the law better, they'll also know the prosecutors and court employees, which helps in cases where discretion will be exercised.
posted by decathecting at 1:11 PM on May 8, 2009

He needs a lawyer.

I've had a DUI in Alabama. For a first offense with no aggravating circumstances like reckless driving or possession of illegal fun the chances are slim he'll do jail time. He'll have an automatic 60-day (I think, it might be 90-day) suspension of his license, he'll hafta spend a weekend in BLOOD ON THE HIGHWAY school, and he'll pay a fine.

If for some reason the judge's crank-o-meter is pinned on 11, your pal MIGHT have to spend a weekend in the pokey, but that's very unlikely.

He blew a .15? Damn, he was trashed.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:33 PM on May 8, 2009

I know some kids (19-23) who've gotten DUIs in Alabama. They got their licenses suspended for 6 months and had to pay a fine. $500 i think. It did go on their record, so it hurt in the long run. That said, it wasn't the end of the world.

(note: i'm NOT condoning DUIs! please don't drive drunk on the roads in my state again...)
posted by cmchap at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2009

I am not your lawyer or your friend's lawyer. While I imagine that the breathalyzer reading tells pretty much the whole story, you might want to tell your friend not to discuss the alleged incident for which he's been arrested with members of law enforcement (cops, DAs, etc.) without his own lawyer present. (I bring this up because it sounds like he may have gabbed with the cop at the jail.)

Also, even if your friend can't afford his own attorney, he still has a Constitutional right to one, under the 6th Amendment and US Supreme Court precedent. I've never practiced criminal law, but I imagine if your friend is in this situation, he can either ask the judge to appoint counsel at his next court appearance, or perhaps call the judge's clerk before then to let him/her know that this is an issue. Hopefully some criminal practioners will weigh in with the proper procedures for requesting counsel if this situation is applicable.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:53 PM on May 8, 2009

Response by poster: I just spoke to him and he's retained a lawyer that is in his county, does lots of dui cases and knows his way around the court.

cmchap - he knows he's made a mistake and I'm sure he's not going to let that happen again.

(and for the record, it's not me pretending to be someone else. This guy is a good friend of mine and I hate to see him in this situation. I thought I would try to help him with some research).
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:02 PM on May 8, 2009

If he has the local traffic attorney who handles a lot of DUI cases in this court, it is likely that he will get a significant fine and a suspended license. Usually (in NY) the suspension can be appealed so that he can drive to and from work as well as to and from school. My guess is that he will also loose $1-2k with the lawyer.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2009

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