May 5, 2023
Auto Accident

In Alabama, driving under the influence is a serious crime, and repeat offenders face strict sentencing guidelines and criminal penalties if they are arrested for drunk driving. Over 20% to 28% of first-time offenders convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) will repeat the offense, and repeat offenders have a 60% greater chance of getting into a fatal crash.

A driver’s history of repeat DUI offenses may affect the compensation you can obtain after a drunk driving accident, including punitive damages. Learn how an irresponsible driver’s criminal record impacts your claim and how The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers can help.

Alabama’s Repeat Offender Laws

Alabama courts examine the past 10 years of a driver’s history to check for any previous DUI conviction. A prior DUI conviction from another state will also count in the driver’s record. If there was a previous felony DUI conviction, then the court will treat subsequent convictions as felonies, regardless of the date of the previous felony.

If a driver is convicted of a felony related to driving under the influence, they will not be subject to the habitual felony offender law in Alabama. The felony offender law requires imprisonment for life with no chance of parole for people with Class A felonies and 3 prior felony convictions. However, the court can still consider prior misdemeanor or felony convictions for driving under the influence.

What are the Penalties for Repeat Offenders?

Repeat offenses for drunk driving carry harsh sentences in Alabama. These can include fines, community service, driver’s license suspensions, and ignition interlock device installation.

If a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or more while driving, the court will double the minimum sentence. If you are over 21 and a child under 14 was in the car with you, you will receive at least double the punishment if no child was in the vehicle.

First Offense

As a first-time DUI offender in Alabama, you face the following penalties:

  • County or municipal jail time for 1 year
  • Fines between $600 and $2,100
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 90 days, unless an offender installs and uses an approved ignition interlock device
  • A restricted driver’s license upon giving proof of the ignition interlock device to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency

Second Conviction

If you get arrested for the second time, you will see an increase in fees and mandatory sentencing:

  • Fines of $1,000 to $5,100 and county and municipal jail time of 1 year, including hard labor
  • Mandatory sentence of either jail time in the county or municipal prison for less than 5 days or community service of 30 days
  • Driver’s license suspension for 1 year
  • Attendance of substance abuse program
  • Installation of the ignition device for 2 years starting from the date of a driver’s license issuance stating that the driving privileges are subject to the device installation
  • The installation on a vehicle can begin upon court order after a minimum of 45 days of license revocation or suspension

Third Conviction

A third DUI offense will cost you thousands of dollars in fines and three years of ignition interlock.

  • Fines from $2,100 to $10,100
  • County or municipal jail time for 60 days to 1 year with the 60 days in jail with no probation or suspension
  • Driver’s license revocation for 3 years
  • Participation in a substance abuse program
  • Installation and usage of an ignition interlock device for 3 years upon receiving a driver’s license stating your usage of the ignition device
  • A driver must install an approved ignition interlock device on a vehicle after 60 days of license suspension or revocation upon court order

Fourth Conviction

If you receive a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction or a felony DUI conviction in the past, you will be guilty of a Class C felony. Other penalties include:

  • Fines of $4,100 to $10,100
  • Jail time for 1 to 10 years, including hard labor for the county or state
  • County imprisonment if the jail sentences don’t go over 3 years or 1 year and 1 day in county jail
  • Minimum mandatory sentence of imprisonment for at least a 1 year and a day and a minimum of 10 days in prison
  • Participation in a substance abuse program
  • Driver’s license revocation for 5 years
  • Installation and usage of an ignition interlock device for 4 years after obtaining a court order and a restricted driver’s license for using the device

How a Driver’s History Can Affect a Personal Injury Claim

If you are injured in a collision with a repeat drunk driver, it can impact your compensation claim in Alabama. A standard drunk driving case requires you to prove that the driver’s drunken actions directly caused your injuries. You can seek economic and noneconomic damages in a claim against a first-time drunk driver.

In an accident with a repeat DUI offender, you may be able to seek punitive damages in addition to damages like medical bills, wage loss, and pain and suffering. Alabama courts award punitive damages when there is clear and compelling evidence of a driver showing malice and wanton disregard for the rights and safety of other people.

The Alabama Supreme Court has stated that the facts and details of each case determine what constitutes wanton conduct. Our Alabama car accident lawyers from The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers can investigate your case and prove the driver’s wanton behavior using evidence like the following:

  • Driver’s record: Your attorney can fill out a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Containing Personal Information to obtain the other driver’s record. They will use this information to show the driver’s history of DUI and support your claim for maximum compensation.
  • Police report: You or your attorney can access your police accident report online for your case. The police report will contain information regarding breathalyzer or sobriety testing and the officer’s observations of the other driver. It will also indicate whether a citation or arrest was made for drunk driving, which your attorney can use to file your claim.
  • Social media posts: Your attorney can look for posts, videos, and pictures on the other driver’s social media that indicate repetitive alcohol abuse. They can use this documentation to show the other driver’s history of alcohol use to help you receive a fair settlement.

The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers Can Help Your Case

Our attorneys at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers understand the complexities of DUI offenses in Alabama and can assist you in navigating the legal system after a crash. We have in-depth knowledge of the state’s laws surrounding drunk driving accidents and repeat DUI offenses, and can help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We can review your case and provide an overview of your legal options. Since we work on contingency, we won’t charge you anything unless we recover money for you.

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