I Was Arrested for DUI in Alabama, What Happens Now?
A DUI arrest can be a terrifying experience. Your troubles are suddenly compounded, and you are faced with the dilemma of how to best protect your rights and freedom. Once you’ve bonded out of jail after a DUI arrest, a million questions probably come to mind. The first of which is, what happens now?
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Alabama?
Suddenly being charged with a crime for drunk driving can be an unsettling experience. Depending on the specifics of your arrest, your case will be handled in a particular court. If this is your first or second DUI, it will likely be treated as a misdemeanor. However, if your first DUI was a felony because of aggravated circumstances, the second is now also a felony according to a new state law.
Third offense DUIs are treated as felonies in Alabama. Other DUIs that could be upgraded to felony status include those that involved injury or death to another person. Most misdemeanors are handled in either a Municipal or District court, and felonies are handled in either a District or Circuit Court.
The DUI process after the arrest involves several steps:
Arraignment. This will be your initial court appearance after the arrest. The judge will read your charges, and you will be asked to enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Preliminary hearing. When you are charged with a crime in Alabama, you have the right to request a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the court will examine the facts of your case, including the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support a trial. If there is not, your case might be dismissed.
Possible trial and appeal. Assuming there is enough evidence to move forward, your case could go to trial if you plead not guilty. This is a lengthy process that you should discuss thoroughly with your criminal defense attorney. If you are found guilty at trial, you have the right to appeal the court’s decision.
Too many people mistakenly believe that, if their breathalyzer test revealed a level over the legal limit, they are automatically guilty. This is not necessarily the case. There are many factors that can create weaknesses in a criminal case. To find out the best DUI defense strategies for your case, it is best to speak with a qualified DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
The Consequences of a DUI Conviction
The one thing you want to avoid if at all possible is a DUI conviction. The consequences for even a first-time DUI offense in Alabama can be steep. These include fines between $600 and $2,100 and up to one year in jail.
With a first offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, unless you are eligible for the ignition interlock option. This can be just the first of many hardships in your path after a DUI arrest. If you refused to take a breathalyzer test upon arrest (not recommended), you could face enhanced penalties as well.
Since the legislature has the goal of stopping dangerous behavior on the roads, it also requires that anyone convicted of a DUI in Alabama undergo a substance abuse evaluation and follow recommendations for treatment. Probation is also a mandatory part of every DUI case in the state.
In addition to these direct consequences, a DUI conviction has some indirect effects that are far-reaching. You’ll find that your insurance rates are likely to soar, and you could have more difficulty finding a good job, a place to live, and qualifying for a loan.
Speak with a Houston County DUI Attorney
If you have been charged for DUI in Alabama, you should get in touch with a lawyer right away who specializes in defending drunk driving cases.
At Smith & McGhee, PC, our experienced Alabama DUI attorneys understand the state’s system with respect to DUI prosecutions, and we know what it takes to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected. For example, there may have been a mistake made during your arrest that can provide leverage for a dismissal or reduction in charges.
Contact our Dothan office now to schedule your confidential case evaluation. The sooner you call us after your arrest, the better chance we will have to safeguard your driving privileges and other freedoms. Call us now at 334-702-1744, or send us a private and secure message through our web contact form.