The long-term effects of a DUI conviction

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2022 | DUI/DWI Defense |

For many people in Alabama and elsewhere, the shock of seeing a police siren in the rearview mirror after a fun evening out with friends can feel like harassment when the police officer pulls them over and starts an interrogation.

Residents of Birmingham and surrounding areas should know that DUI charges can have consequences that will seriously affect their lives in the form of license suspension, driving restrictions, or insurance coverage suspension. A DUI conviction will show up on a person’s record and could prevent them from later applying for a job, a mortgage, or other opportunities.

What happens at the scene of the arrest

When an officer initially pulls the driver over, unless there was a traffic violation, they do not yet have any substantial evidence to make an arrest. This is why they ask questions, request that the driver step out of the car and submit to field sobriety or breathalyzer tests.

Implied consent laws in Alabama permit the officer to do this, as a driver’s license is a permit to drive on a public road, not a right, and the officer’s job is to ensure that drivers are following traffic laws. The driver may refuse a field sobriety test with no consequences, but if they refuse to submit to a chemical or blood test, it will trigger consent laws and result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. And if the individual resists arrest, this can lead additional charges that will complicate matters later on.

Defenses to DUI charges

Alabama DUI laws are strict, and repeat offenses compound an individual’s criminal record that will have profound consequences for them in their lives. While a first offense is a misdemeanor if the driver has no prior convictions in the past ten years, they may still face jail time, fines, license suspension or ignition interlock device installation. Repeat offenders may face felony charges.

If there were irregularities in the arrest or search procedure, law enforcement may have violated the individual’s constitutional rights. Chemical tests are not always reliable and may become tainted if the lab improperly stored it. The officer may have improperly administered the breath test.

Depending on the individual circumstances of the case, it may be possible to avoid license suspension, minimize fines, or even to have the case dismissed. Discovering your options can help to limit the damage done by charges or conviction and allow you to go on with your life.