DUIs and Spring Break in Alabama and Florida
Traveling to the Gulf Coast areas of Alabama and Florida is popular during spring break since it is close to many southern colleges and universities. Spring break is viewed as a rite of passage among many young adults, but it can be a dangerous time as well thanks to the heavy drinking and partying associated with these week-long vacations. While this may be a time for celebration, things can turn serious in an instant when a student makes the choice to drink and drive.
Law enforcement in both Florida and Alabama have cracked down on underage drinking as well as drinking and driving over the past several years, particularly during spring break periods. They will bring in additional manpower to arrest drivers who are operating a motor vehicle after drinking and may put emphasis on drivers who are under the age of 21.
Getting Pulled Over for a DUI in Alabama and Florida
Unfortunately, young students on a break often don’t understand their legal rights when they are pulled over for a DUI. Law enforcement will take advantage of a young adult who is terrified of getting in trouble with the law, their parents, and potentially their school. The truth is that everyone has certain rights when accused of driving under the influence.
Both Alabama and Florida are implied consent states, which means that drivers must consent to a chemical test if they are arrested. This does not mean, however, that a person suspected of DUI must agree to unreliable roadside sobriety tests, which could impact the outcome of a case.
Penalties for a First-Time DUI
If you or your child has been arrested for DUI while on spring break, there is a lot at stake. The penalties for a first-time DUI in both Florida and Alabama are stiff and could be long-lasting. In addition to the criminal penalties, a DUI conviction could impact your ability to get a job, find a place to live, and get affordable insurance.
In Florida, a first-time DUI conviction will get you a six-month driver’s license suspension, fines up to $1,000, and up to six months in jail. In Alabama, conviction for a first-time DUI carries penalties of a 90-day license suspension, up to $1,200 in fines, and up to one year in jail. All these penalties will increase for aggravating factors such as an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC), causing an accident with injuries, or having minors in the vehicle.
If you are under the age of 21, you can be charged with DUI for any amount of alcohol in your system. The consequences of a conviction are grave, with a possible license suspension, jail time, fines, and auto insurance premium increases. You are also in danger of additional charges such as minor in possession, possessing a fake ID, soliciting alcohol, and distributing alcohol to other minors. These are not charges you want on your record.
Preventing a DUI During Spring Break
If alcohol is going to be part of your spring break activities, protect yourself from a DUI by keeping these tips in mind:
- Know the law. When you travel to an unfamiliar place, take a moment to look up their laws so that you can avoid trouble.
- Plan ahead of time. If you know that you will be drinking, make plans in advance. Either have a designated driver or find another way to get to and from your destination.
- Don’t drive. Never get behind the wheel of a car after drinking, even if you are traveling just a short distance. Either walk or take a paid option such as a bus, taxi, or ridesharing service.
Speak With an Experienced Spring Break DUI Lawyer Today
Although DUIs are preventable, young people make mistakes. Anyone who is faced with a DUI charge should speak with a competent and experienced DUI attorney as quickly as possible. If you have had your license suspended, this is a time-sensitive matter, and your attorney may be able to advocate for your right to a hardship license.
If you or your child has been charged with a spring break DUI, the qualified DUI attorneys at Smith & McGhee, PC, will discuss your options and protect your rights. Contact our Dothan office now at (334) 702-1744 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.