An effective DWI defense is essential for motorists in Alabama who are arrested for impaired driving. Penalties in Alabama are stricter for impaired motorists who are found guilty of driving drunk than the penalties are in more than half of other states. WalletHub has ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia and found Alabama is tied for 23rd strictest state in terms of criminal penalties imposed after a drunk driving conviction. Alabama was tied with Arkansas and Massachusetts.
Penalties For DWI in Alabama Among the Strictest In the U.S.
WalletHub found red states like Alabama were, in general, stricter on offenders after an impaired driving conviction. The strictest state was ranked 1st, and the least strict was ranked 51st. The average ranking for red states was 23, and the average ranking for blue states was 28.2.
There is significant variation among state laws, as each individual jurisdiction can establish its own rules and penalties. On average, drivers who are arrested for impaired driving in the United States will face a minimum three month administrative license suspension. Nationwide, first time offenders face an average minimum jail term of one day, while second-time offenders face an average of 21 days jail time.
Alabama does not impose a minimum sentence for first time offenders, unlike some of the stricter states. However, there is a 48-hour minimum jail term for a person convicted of a second offense. Alabama also makes DUI an automatic felony for defendants convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense. Alabama looks back for a five-year period of time in determining how many prior offenses a defendant has on his driving record. The strictest state, Arizona, looks back for a period of seven years while South Dakota (the most lenient state) also looks back for five years.
Alabama DUI defendants had some of the highest insurance rate increases after conviction, with an average 54 percent rise in insurance costs compared with an average premium increase of 37 percent in Arizona. Alabama, like many other states, imposes a three-month administrative suspension of a driver's license for first-time offenders. The required ignition interlock period, however, is longer than in many other locations. Alabama requires an ignition interlock installed in a vehicle for six months after a first conviction with a BAC of .08, whereas many other locations do not require an ignition interlock until a second conviction or unless a BAC is .15 or higher.
Alabama's minimum fines are also higher than in many other locations. A first offender, for example, could face a minimum of a $600 fine and a second offender could face a minimum $1100 fine compared with just $150 and $400 for offenders in Arkansas (whom Alabama is tied with in terms of strictness). Alabama's fine is also significantly higher than Arizona's $250 and $500 fines for first and second offenders, even though Arizona had the highest strictness rating.
Because Alabama's penalties are harsher than more than half the states in the union, those who are arrested should be especially proactive in working to develop an effective trial strategy to try to minimize penalties or avoid a guilty verdict. An attorney can provide assistance in responding to impaired driving accusations.