Alabama DUI Laws & Penalties

Alabama Drunk Driving Laws Explained in Easy-to-Understand Simple Terms

Alabama DUI laws are comprehensive and designed to penalize driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substance that impairs driving ability.

You can be charged with a DUI in Alabama without actually driving the vehicle. Being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle, which means having the physical power and capability to operate, move, or use the vehicle, can lead to a DUI charge.

Alabama’s DUI laws underscore the state’s zero-tolerance policy towards driving under the influence, with strict penalties aimed at deterring such behavior. It’s crucial to be aware of these laws to avoid severe consequences.

Key Points of Alabama’s DUI Laws:

  • BAC Limits: Alabama has set the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit at 0.08% for drivers, with a lower limit of 0.04% for commercial drivers and a zero-tolerance limit of 0.02% for drivers under 21.
  • Implied Consent: By driving in Alabama, you’ve given implied consent to undergo field sobriety and BAC tests. Refusal to take these tests can lead to penalties, including a driver’s license suspension.
  • Penalties: DUI penalties in Alabama vary depending on the number of offenses and can include jail time, fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education, and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). Penalties escalate with subsequent offenses within a 10-year period.

Table of Contents

There is a lot of information to cover when it comes to a DUI offense in Alabama, so we have provided you with a quick reference table of contents so you can jump to the section you need more information on, or you can read through the entire page.

Penalties for a First Offense DUI in Alabama

1. Criminal Penalties:
  • Misdemeanor Charge: A first offense DUI in Alabama is typically classified as a misdemeanor, unless aggravating circumstances are present.
  • Jail Time: Up to 1 year in jail, though this can be reduced or suspended for certain first-time offenders.
  • Fines: Fines ranging from $600 to $2,100. These fines do not include court costs, attorney fees, or other related expenses.
  • Probation: The court may impose probation instead of or in addition to jail time. Probation may include conditions such as attending DUI education programs, community service, and regular check-ins with a probation officer.
2. License Suspension:
  • Administrative License Suspension: Upon arrest, your license may be confiscated, and you will be issued a temporary driving permit. Your license can be suspended for 90 days if you fail a breath test or refuse to take one.
  • Court-Ordered Suspension: After conviction, your license can be suspended for 90 days to 1 year. However, you may be eligible for a restricted license for work, school, or other essential purposes after a certain period.
3. Ignition Interlock Device (IID):
  • In Alabama, installation of an IID may be required for first-time offenders. This device requires the driver to blow into it and measures BAC. If any amount of alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.
4. DUI School:
5. SR-22 Insurance:
  • After a DUI conviction, Alabama requires you to obtain an SR-22 certificate of insurance, which is a document proving you have the required liability insurance coverage.
6. Community Service:
  • The court may also require you to perform a certain number of hours of community service.

A first offense DUI in Alabama carries significant penalties that can impact various aspects of your life. From fines and potential jail time to license suspension and the requirement of an IID, the consequences are serious. If you are facing a DUI charge, it is essential to take it seriously, understand your rights, and consider seeking legal representation to navigate the legal process. Additionally, taking steps to address any issues with alcohol or substance use is important for your well-being and to prevent future incidents.

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Penalties for a Second Offense DUI in Alabama

In Alabama, penalties for a second offense DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are more severe than for a first offense. Here is an overview of the typical penalties for a second offense DUI in Alabama:

1. Criminal Penalties:
  • A second offense DUI in Alabama is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
  • The convicted individual may face imprisonment for a minimum of 5 days to a maximum of 1 year. The court may suspend all but 48 hours of the sentence if the offender enters an alcohol or drug education program.
  • If the second offense occurs within 5 years of the first offense, there is a mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail, which cannot be suspended.
  • Fines ranging from $1,100 to $5,100.
  • Mandatory community service of 30 days.
2. Driver’s License Penalties:
  • A second DUI offense typically results in a driver’s license suspension for a period of 1 year.
  • The offender may be eligible for an ignition interlock device (IID) after 45 days of the suspension period.
  • If the second offense occurs within 5 years of the first offense, the driver’s license revocation period is extended to 1 year.
3. Ignition Interlock Device (IID):
  • After the suspension period, the court may require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on the offender’s vehicle. The offender is responsible for all costs associated with the IID.
4. Substance Abuse Treatment:
5. Probation:
  • The court may impose a probationary period for up to 2 years.
6. Vehicle Impoundment or Forfeiture:
  • The offender’s vehicle may be impounded or forfeited, especially if the vehicle was used in the commission of the DUI offense.

It’s important to note that the penalties surrounding a second offense DUI can vary based on the circumstances of the case, the judge’s discretion, and any previous criminal history of the offender. It’s highly advisable for individuals facing DUI charges to seek legal counsel to understand their rights and options.

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Penalties for a Third Offense DUI in Alabama

In Alabama, the penalties for a third offense DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction can be severe. The specific penalties can vary based on the circumstances of the case, but generally, they include:

  • Jail Time: A third DUI offense is considered a Class C felony in Alabama. The potential jail time for a third offense DUI is a minimum of 60 days up to 1 year. The court may also order up to 1 year of community service in lieu of some jail time.
  • Fines: The fine for a third DUI offense can range from $2,100 to $10,100.
  • Driver’s License Suspension: The driver’s license will be revoked for a period of 3 years.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID): After the revocation period, the offender will be required to install an IID on their vehicle for a period of 3 years. This device requires the driver to blow into it to test their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before the vehicle will start.
  • Substance Abuse Assessment and Treatment: The court may also order the offender to undergo a substance abuse assessment and complete a court-approved substance abuse treatment program at their own expense.
  • Probation: A person convicted of a third DUI offense will likely be placed on probation for a period of 5 years.
  • Vehicle Impoundment or Forfeiture: The court may order the impoundment or forfeiture of the vehicle used in the commission of the offense.
  • Mandatory DUI School: The offender may be required to attend and complete a DUI education program.

It’s important to note that these penalties are for a third offense DUI within a 10-year period. Additionally, Alabama has what is known as a “lookback period,” meaning previous DUI convictions can impact the severity of penalties for a current offense. The penalties can also be enhanced if there were aggravating factors involved, such as a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), speeding, reckless driving, or having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Due to the serious nature of these penalties, it is highly recommended that anyone facing DUI charges in Alabama seek the assistance of an experienced DUI attorney who can provide guidance and representation throughout the legal process.

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Penalties for an Underage DUI in Alabama

In Alabama, the penalties for an underage DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can vary based on several factors, including the offender’s age, blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and whether it’s a first offense or a repeat offense. Here are the typical penalties for an underage DUI in Alabama:

  1. First Offense
    • Driver’s license suspension for 90 days
    • Fine of $600 to $2,100.
    • Possible imprisonment up to 90 days.
    • Completion of a DUI or substance abuse course.
  2. Second Offense (within 5 years of the first offense):
    • Driver’s license suspension for 1 year.
    • Fine of $1,100 to $5,100.
    • Possible imprisonment from 5 days to 1 year.
    • Completion of a DUI or substance abuse course.
    • Ignition Interlock Device may be required.
  3. Third Offense (within 5 years of the first offense):

It’s important to note that these penalties can be increased if the driver’s BAC is significantly above the legal limit, if there was an accident with injuries or property damage, or if there are other aggravating circumstances. Additionally, an underage DUI can have long-term consequences, including increased insurance rates, difficulty finding employment, and a permanent criminal record.

These penalties are subject to change and can vary based on the specific circumstances of each case. It’s always best to consult with a legal professional for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding DUI penalties in Alabama.

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Alabama CDL DUI Penalties

Alabama’s CDL laws require a commercial driver’s license for operating vehicles over 26,000 pounds, carrying 16 or more passengers, or transporting hazardous materials. Serious traffic offenses, violations of out-of-service orders, and railroad crossing violations can lead to CDL disqualification. A DUI conviction results in a minimum one-year CDL revocation, extending to a lifetime disqualification for subsequent offenses. CMV operators have implied consent for breathalyzer testing, with refusal leading to a minimum two-year disqualification​ (

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Aggravated DUI Circumstances

In Alabama, DUI charges can become significantly more severe under aggravated circumstances, leading to what’s referred to as an “Aggravated DUI.” These circumstances elevate the severity of penalties and may also lead to additional criminal charges. Here are the main factors that can aggravate a DUI charge in Alabama:

1. High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, nearly double the standard legal limit of 0.08%, you could face more severe penalties, including mandatory longer jail sentences and heavier fines​ (The McCormick Firm)​.
2. Having a Minor in the Vehicle: Driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle significantly increases the severity of the penalties, reflecting the higher degree of recklessness​ (Tidwell Law Group)​.
3. Causing an Injury: If the DUI incident results in serious injury to another person, assault charges may be added to your DUI charges, further escalating the penalties​ (Tidwell Law Group)​.
4. Causing a Fatality: A DUI leading to death is treated with utmost severity, potentially leading to manslaughter charges, which are severe felony offenses​ (Tidwell Law Group)​.

Additionally, aggravated DUI charges may result from specific behaviors or conditions at the time of the arrest, such as previous DUI convictions, the presence of underage passengers, involvement in a serious auto accident, driving on a suspended license, or excessive speeding. The penalties for aggravated DUI can include fines starting at $4,000, up to two years of jail time, and at least a one-year license suspension. Furthermore, some DUI offenses under aggravating circumstances can be classified as felonies, with even harsher consequences, including potential prison sentences of up to ten years and fines as high as $10,000​ (Aggravated DUI)​.

Given the complexity of DUI laws and the severe impact of aggravated DUI charges on one’s life and future, it’s crucial to seek competent legal representation if facing such charges in Alabama.

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Additional Consequences

1. Criminal Record: A DUI conviction in Alabama will result in a criminal record, which can impact future job prospects, housing applications, and other opportunities.
2. Increased Insurance Rates: A DUI conviction often leads to significantly increased car insurance rates, sometimes for several years.
3. Professional Consequences: For those in certain professions, such as teachers, healthcare workers, or commercial drivers, a DUI conviction can lead to job loss or professional license suspension.
4. Ignition Interlock Device (IID): As mentioned earlier, installation and maintenance of an IID can be expensive and inconvenient.

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DUI Education Classes

In Alabama, DUI education programs are designed to help offenders understand the consequences of DUI offenses and to promote safer driving behaviors. These programs vary in content and duration based on the severity of the offense and whether the offender is a first-time or repeat offender.

For first-time DUI offenders, Alabama typically requires the completion of a 12-hour DUI education class. This program is aimed at educating offenders on the dangers of DUI and encouraging better decision-making to prevent future offenses. For those who have committed subsequent DUI offenses, a more intensive 24-hour DUI education program is generally mandated. Additionally, some individuals may be required to complete a 1-hour Victim Impact Panel as part of their required penalties, designed to illustrate the human impact of DUI offenses​ (DUI Law Center)​.

The Risk Reduction Program is another critical component of DUI education in Alabama, often mandated by the court or the Department of Drivers Services. This 20-hour program, usually offered on weekends or evenings, employs the Prime for Life curriculum by the PRI Institute. It focuses on assessing high-risk behaviors and finding new, healthy ways to engage in low-risk behaviors. The cost for this program includes a class fee, a book fee, and an assessment fee, totaling around $360​ (AACS Counseling)​.

The Alabama Safety Institute, Inc. (ASI) also offers DUI and drug offender education, including Level I and II programs for both adult and juvenile offenders. These programs provide education on Alabama laws, the effects of substances on driving, and strategies for making safer choices. ASI’s programs are certified by the Administrative Office of Courts, ensuring they meet state requirements for DUI education​ (Alabama Safety Institute, Inc.)​.

These DUI education programs in Alabama are integral to the state’s efforts to reduce DUI incidents and promote public safety through informed and responsible driving practices.

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Ignition Interlock Requirements

In Alabama, ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are a mandatory requirement for DUI offenders, aimed at preventing instances of driving under the influence of alcohol. The state implemented this legislation in 2012, making it the 50th state to enforce such a requirement. The specifics of the ignition interlock law are detailed in Section 32-5A-191 of the Code of Alabama, stating that anyone convicted of a DUI offense is required to have an IID installed in their vehicle for a certain period after their driver’s license suspension ends.

The duration for which an IID must be installed varies depending on the offense:

  • For a first DUI offense, the IID is required for 6 months if the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below 0.15, and for 1 year if the BAC is above 0.15.
  • A second offense necessitates an IID for 2 years.
  • For a third conviction, the requirement extends to 3 years.
  • Subsequent offenses require an IID for 4 years after serving a 1-year suspension.

Certain conditions, such as having a passenger under the age of 14 at the time of offense, refusing the chemical test, being involved in a crash causing injury, or having a BAC of .15 or higher, may impose additional time on the IID requirement.

To regain driving privileges, offenders may need to install an IID from an approved provider, serve the required suspension period, complete any mandatory evaluations, treatments, or assessments, and provide proof of IID installation to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency​ (ALEA Gov)​​ (Intoxalock).

Implied Consent Law

Alabama’s implied consent law, stated in Section 32-5-192, mandates that anyone driving on the state’s public highways is considered to have consented to a chemical test (blood, breath, or oral fluid) to determine the presence of impairing substances, if lawfully arrested for DUI. Refusing the test results in a minimum 90-day suspension of driving privileges. This law applies to scenarios arising from acts believed to be committed while driving under the influence​ (Findlaw)​. For more details, you can visit FindLaw’s website.

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Driver License Hearings

After a DUI arrest in Alabama, you have a 10-day window to request an administrative hearing to challenge your driver license suspension. This process is separate from the DUI charge itself and addresses “per se” or “refusal” suspensions, based on either exceeding the legal alcohol limit or refusing a breath test. The outcome of this hearing can impact your driving privileges independently of the criminal DUI case outcomes. For detailed steps and assistance, it’s advised to consult a DUI defense attorney promptly​ (Ward Law)​.

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DUI Lawyers

Having a lawyer after a DUI arrest in Alabama is crucial due to the complex legal challenges and potential consequences you face, including license suspension, fines, and possibly jail time. A lawyer can help navigate the legal system, challenge evidence, and may increase your chances of a favorable outcome, such as reduced charges or penalties. Consulting with a DUI attorney quickly is especially important given Alabama’s 10-day deadline to request an administrative hearing regarding license suspension​ (Ward Law)​.

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Additional Alabama DUI Resources
  • Alabama DUI First Offense – Detailed first offense information, including punishments after a first offense DUI in Alabama.
  • Alabama DUI Classes – Get signed up for your DUI class now.
  • Alabama SR22 Insurance – Learn everything you need to know about Alabama SR22 filing requirements with the DMV and find out how you can save hundreds of dollars each year on your Alabama SR22 insurance.
  • Alabama DUI Lawyers – Contact one of our Alabama DUI lawyers today to discuss your pending DUI case.
  • Alabama Bail Bond Agents – Contact an Alabama bail bond agent to get out of jail now.
  • Alabama Non-owner Insurance – If you need an SR-22 filing, but don’t own a vehicle, you need to get a non-owner policy.