Like other states, Alabama has laws against driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) using drugs or other intoxicating substances. Both offenses are generally referred to as “DUI” in Alabama. Under the state’s drunk driving law (Ala. Code § 32-5A-191), a motorist may face DUI charges when:
- They drove or were in physical control of a car while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both; or
- Have a tested blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more for most drivers
When a drunk or drugged driver causes a crash, the victims can generally file an insurance claim or sue them for negligence. They can recover the cost of their expenses and losses if they have the proper evidence. Read on for an explanation of DUI and DWI in Alabama so you can learn more about your case.
Understanding Alabama’s Drunk Driving Laws
Alabama’s drunk driving statute states that drivers in Alabama may not be under the influence “to a degree which renders him or her incapable of safely driving.” In these cases, “under the influence” could refer to alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications that make you drowsy, or any other intoxicating substance.
The legal limit in Alabama is 0.08 percent for most drivers. However, the allowable BAC is lower for commercial drivers (0.04) and those under age 21 (0.02).
What Is Implied Consent?
Alabama also has an “implied consent” law (Ala. Code § 32-5-192), stating that all licensed drivers “shall be deemed to have given (their) consent” to take a BAC test if arrested and accused of DUI. These tests could be a breath, blood, or urine test. Motorists who refuse to cooperate will face a mandatory 90-day license suspension and possibly other penalties.
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Motorists Could Face DUI Arrest Even When Not Driving
It’s crucial to understand this aspect of the Alabama DUI law: a drunk driver could face arrest any time they are in “actual physical control of any vehicle.” In its 1982 Key v. Town of Kinsey decision, the Alabama Supreme Court interpreted this clause as “exclusive physical power, and present ability, to operate, move, park, or direct whatever use or non-use is to be made of the motor vehicle at the moment.”
This interpretation means that a person could face legal problems for sleeping in their parked car or otherwise being able to start the car and drive away if they wanted to.
Facing the Consequences of a DUI Conviction
When an Alabama judge hears a criminal DUI case, they can choose to send the driver to jail, fine them, or both. They will also lose their license for several months or more and must undergo a substance abuse evaluation that could lead to treatment and counseling.
Their legal troubles only increase if they cause a crash where someone is hurt. This outcome could lead to prison time of one to five years per victim. Additionally, a fatal crash will likely result in criminally negligent homicide charges under Ala. Code § 13A-6-4(c). This is a Class C felony, and penalties include:
- One to ten years in prison
- Up to $15,000 in fines
Still, none of these penalties compensate the victims of those crashes. A victim must submit an auto liability insurance claim or file a personal injury lawsuit to recover monetary damages. When a person drives under the influence, they could face a civil case in addition to their legal case in criminal court. Civil cases allow the victims to prove their financial and intangible losses and receive compensation.
What Can I Do If I was a Victim of an Alabama Drunk Driving Accident?
Alabama’s negligence laws allow you to hold the at-fault driver legally responsible for a car accident they cause. You might have an even more compelling claim against them if they face DUI or DWI charges related to the crash.
An Alabama personal injury lawyer can help you gather convincing evidence that proves your claim against the DUI/DWI driver who caused your collision, injuries, economic losses, and financial stress.
These cases usually settle outside of court, but you must act before the second anniversary of the crash to protect your right to sue under Ala. Code § 6-2-38. Some cases have circumstances that could shorten the deadline, so it is a good idea to meet with an attorney about your options as soon as your injuries allow.
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Morris Bart & Associates, LLC Will Review Your Case for Free Today
If you sustained injuries in a DUI or DWI accident in Alabama, our team will discuss your crash, injuries, and legal options for compensation today. The Morris Bart law firm provides free case assessments and represents our clients based on a contingency fee.
Our team is here for you and your family during this difficult time. We have offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery, with DUI accident attorneys available to assist victims throughout the state. Call (800) 537-8185 today to learn more.
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