According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Alabama is above the national average when it comes to deaths caused by drunk driving. This is true for all age categories maintained by the CDC, including birth to age 20, age 21 to 34, and over age 35, as well as all age groups overall. While men die in drunk driving accidents more than women nationwide, the ratio in Alabama is 8.4 per 100,000 men versus the national average of 5.2 per 100,000 men.
Statistics released by the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that at least 20 percent of all accidents resulting in fatality or serious injury occurred because of drunk driving. Despite Alabama enforcing a legal blood alcohol level of .08 percent and maintaining an even stricter measure of sobriety for commercial and underage drivers, these types of serious accidents persist.
What is the State Doing to Reduce Injuries and Deaths Caused by Drunk Drivers?
Minimum drinking age and zero tolerance policy: Like the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, Alabama has established a minimum drinking age of 21. That means that bars and liquor stores cannot sell any form of alcohol to a person who has not reached his or her 21st birthday. Since binge drinking and attending parties with alcohol present is popular among high school and college students, enforcing this law has helped keep some young people off the road who might otherwise drink and drive. Under the state’s zero tolerance law, police can arrest a driver under age 21 who has .02 percent or more alcohol in his or her system.
Requirement to use ignition interlock device: Ignition interlock devices (IID) have also helped to cut down on repeat drunk driving offenders. The state could require you to install an IID in the following situations:
- You tested over the legal limit for intoxication and had a child in the car younger than age 14
- Your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or greater on your first arrest for driving under the influence (DUI)
- You caused an injury to another person while driving impaired
- You refused to submit to a breath test, which is illegal because you give implied consent for such a test when you first obtain your driver’s license
When you have an ignition interlock installed in your car, you must blow into a mouthpiece that measures the level of alcohol present in your blood. The vehicle will not start if the number reads above .02. You would be responsible for the costs associated with installation, maintenance, repair, and removal of the IID.
Random sobriety checkpoints: Alabama is one of 38 states that allows sobriety checkpoints. These are well-marked and highly visible locations where the police may stop a vehicle without a specific cause to see if the driver is impaired. The officer making the stop will only do a breath test if he or she suspects that the driver has had too much to drink.
Tough penalties for those convicted of drunk driving: If you measure a blood alcohol concentration greater than .08 percent and you’re convicted of the offense, you automatically lose your driver’s license for 90 days. You also face jail time, fines, and mandatory alcohol education classes. The loss of your license extends to one year, three years, and five years for your second, third, and fourth offenses. Prison time for repeat convictions range from one to 10 years and fines can be as high as $10,000.
A DUI Conviction Can Haunt You for Life
Prevention efforts don’t always work, and you may find yourself facing a conviction for driving with too much alcohol in your system. In addition to the penalties described above, you face cancelled car insurance, a damaged reputation, and difficulty finding housing and employment in the future. That is because your arrest and conviction become a matter of public record for the next several years.
You are not guilty of driving under the influence just because a police officer says you are. You might have a valid defense, or the officer could have deprived you of your due process rights at the time of your arrest. Criminal defense attorney Jason Darley helps people in your situation every day fight back against charges that will negatively impact their life for years to come. If you’re facing a DUI conviction, don’t hesitate to contact Darley Law at 251-441-7772 to request a free legal consultation.