If you’re arrested and charged with driving under the influence,
the majority of the time you are facing
misdemeanor charges. Basic DUI accusations are generally punishable by up to a year
in jail and substantial fines. However, in certain extremely serious situations
you could find your charges escalated to
felony status, meaning you could be imprisoned for a long period of time, face
even more substantial fines, and even lose some of your rights if you
are convicted in court. For this reason, knowing you could be charged
with a felony DUI is important because you need to immediately start preparing
a defense. Here is what can cause your DUI accusations to be escalated
from misdemeanor to felony status.
Repeat offenders are not automatically considered felons, however one too
many DUIs on your record could escalate any future charges to the level
of felony. Alabama Code section 32-5A-191(h) states that anyone who is
on their fourth or subsequent conviction shall be found guilty of a Class
C felony. Regardless of the nature of the first three charges, even if
they were extremely minor and resulted in no injuries or even property
damage, you will face felony charges for your fourth conviction or any
other conviction after that.
There is an important exception to this law, however: all four of your
convictions must have come
within a five-year period. Once five years have elapsed from your first conviction, it cannot be
counted on your record when determining whether you face a misdemeanor
or automatic felony DUI.
Alabama’s DUI laws happen to be some of the most lenient in the country
as well. Accidents which cause injuries or significant property damage
are not considered aggravating factors, and your blood alcohol content
level will not increase your charges to felony status, regardless of how
high they might be. Alabama also doesn’t count DUI convictions from
other states towards your “four strikes” when determining
misdemeanor or felony DUI status.
Felony DUI Penalties in Alabama
If you’re convicted of a felony DUI in the state of Alabama, the
penalties are severe, which means you shouldn’t hesitate to reach
out to a Birmingham DUI lawyer as soon as possible. For starters, a misdemeanor
DUI has a maximum jail sentence of exactly one year. However, a felony
DUI carries a
minimum sentence of a year plus one day. State law requires that you serve at
least ten days of this sentence before you may be granted parole or have
your sentence suspended at the court’s discretion.
Felony DUI fines start at $4,100 and have a legal maximum of $10,100, which
is significantly higher than the minimum fine of $600 for a first conviction
and $2,100 for a third conviction, both of which are considered misdemeanors.
Finally, those who are convicted of a felony DUI will have their driver’s
license revoked for a minimum period of five years, during which time
they will be required to complete a certified chemical dependency program.
If you’re found guilty of a felony, you could also face supplemental
penalties, including finding it difficult to obtain housing, get financing
for a car, or even lease an apartment. You may also be forbidden from
working in certain occupations, which means you may need to find a new
career if you work in one of them. Finally, those who are convicted felons
often lose the right to own firearms, vote in elections, or hold any sort
of a public office, all of which can make an accidental mistake turn into
a lifelong burden.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a Birmingham DUI attorney for help!
Call Tidwell Law Group, LLC today by dialing (205) 800-8596 to request a case evaluation and start
reviewing the available options you may be able to pursue in order to
defend your rights!