But you can take your time in researching an experienced Birmingham DUI lawyer who will work tirelessly to defend your rights as the criminal case proceeds.
A case out of Bay Minette, Alabama, proves just how critical this decision is, particularly when you have prior DUI convictions.
There, a 29-year-old man was just sentenced to 35 years in prison, upon being convicted of DUI murder. He was accused of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after spending a day out drinking.
While driving, he reportedly crashed into a 68-year-old female driver, killing her.
Now, it’s important to note that in many cases of DUI manslaughter or DUI homicide, the maximum penalty can range from 2 to 20 years. However, the penalties in this case are much harsher, and it’s due to the fact that this individual had several prior DUI convictions.
According to court records, the defendant was convicted three times prior – once in 2004, again in 2007 and again in 2009. According to the terms of his most recent conviction, his license was suspended and he had just completed a six-month jail term.
The defendant reportedly expressed deep remorse to the victim’s family and to the court for his actions. Though a judge deemed his apologies genuine, she labeled them “a dollar short and a day late.”
She subsequently imposed the 35-year sentence on the defendant.
With so much at stake in these cases, it’s absolutely critical that you explore any and every possibility with regard to your DUI offense.
In some scenarios, it may be possible for the defense attorney to cast doubt on whether or not you were actually intoxicated. This may be a viable option if there was no physical evidence, such as breathalyzer results or a blood sample, to prove your intoxication level.
In other cases, we may be able to cast doubt about whether you were at fault in the crash.
And if all else fails, a skilled DUI lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain with terms that could include dropped or reduced charges or reduced penalties. This could be especially important in cases where you may have multiple prior convictions.
Alabama Code 32-51-191 details penalties for second and subsequent DUI convictions in Alabama. From the first to second conviction, both involve a maximum 1-year jail term, but fines increase from a maximum of $2,100 to a maximum of $5,100.
By the time you get to a third conviction, you will spend a mandatory two months in jail and could receive up to a year, with your driver’s license being revoked for at least three years and fines of up to $10,100.
Fourth and subsequent convictions are considered Class C felonies, punishable by a minimum 1 year in jail and a maximum 10 years.
These are not situations in which you can take your chances with a public defender.