In early January, state legislators filed into their seats to review a number of proposed changes to Alabama DUI laws that would dramatically increase penalties for convicted drunk drivers.
As experienced Birmingham DUI defense attorney John Michael Barclay knows, convicted drunk drivers in Alabama already face tough penalties. Even first-time offenders can face thousands of dollars in fines, a jail sentence and a mandatory license suspension. Under a legislative proposal, however, it could get even tougher for drivers convicted of DUI in Alabama for their first time.
Proposed changes to Alabama drunk driving laws
A recent NBC 48 report documented a number of proposed changes to Alabama DUI laws that are currently under consideration by state legislators. According to state Sen. Arthur Orr, who penned the bill, changes to the state's drunk driver policies are necessary to "get drunk drivers off the road and treat them accordingly and harshly," NBC 48 said.
One major provision of the new bill would eliminate Alabama's five year "look back" period. Under existing DUI laws in Alabama, if a person only has one prior DUI and is convicted of another within five years, he is treated as a repeat offender and punished accordingly. Offenders convicted of a second DUI more than five years after their first offense are sentenced within the range of punishment as a first-time offender.
Under the proposed changes, this "look back" period would become unlimited. What this means is that a 50-year-old man or woman who was first convicted of a DUI at age 25 - a quarter century ago - would be subject to much more serious punishment, regardless of his or her driving record between offenses.
Being "second-time" or "repeat" offenders, these drivers would be subject to up to a year of imprisonment (including a five-day minimum sentence) or community service; a minimum fine of $1,100, and a license suspension of one year - and this doesn't include bail costs, court fees, or the social stigma that surrounds a DUI arrest.
Furthermore, the new bill would allow law enforcement officials to factor in previous drunk driving convictions from other states when sentencing first-time offenders in Alabama. Currently, DUI convictions in other states have no impact in Alabama. Proposed changes to the law would allow law enforcement officials to factor prior arrests in Tennessee and Mississippi when handing down a sentence to a convicted drunk driver.
What do proposed changes to DUI laws mean for convicted drunk drivers in Alabama?
Proposed changes to Alabama DUI laws reveal a strong desire by the state to crack down on people arrested for drunk driving - perhaps too strong. Studies show that repeat offenders who are convicted of multiple DUIs within a five-year period present the highest risk to other drivers.
At Barclay Law, LLC, we know that lawmakers want to appear "tough" on drunk driving, but sometimes they simply go too far and infringe on the rights of everyone in Alabama. That's one of the reasons why John Michael Barclay fights aggressively for every client. He knows exactly what's at stake, and he will do everything he can to protect the rights of the accused.
If you've been arrested for drunk driving in Birmingham, a DUI defense attorney will fight to protect your rights. Contact Barclay Law, LLC today at 866-584-1023 for a free consultation.