What to Do If You’re Stopped for a DUI in Alabama
No one wants to be pulled over — for any reason, much less being stopped for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). So let’s look at some key information that can help you if you are in the Heart of Dixie and faced with this situation. An Alabama DUI is serious, but you can take steps to help yourself afterward by getting the right car insurance so you can get back on the road.
Alabama DUIs: What Does the Law Say?
Alabama law prohibits anyone from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more
- While under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any impairing substance — or a combination thereof — to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle
The BAC threshold is reduced to .04% or more if the licensee is driving a commercial vehicle, and it’s unlawful for drivers under 21 years old to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more.
Alabama also has an implied consent law that specifies that any person who operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a blood, breath, or urine test to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). However, a driver is required to test only if lawfully arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). In other words, the officer must have reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving under the influence to request a BAC test. An officer can’t force a driver to test unless supported by some other authority — such as a warrant.
If a driver refuses to take a test, this fact can be shared in court, which could imply that the driver preferred not to be tested because they knew they would have a BAC over the legal limit. Failure to comply with a request for chemical testing could also result in a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license.
What Does All This Legalese Mean to Me About Alabama DUIs?
With a .08% blood alcohol content (BAC), you don’t have to be that drunk to be legally drunk in Alabama. There is the guideline that drinking a maximum of one drink per hour (with food) will keep you from getting drunk. But there are pitfalls to that. Your gender, body weight, age, physical health, mood, how tired or well-rested you are, and any over-the-counter or prescription medications you have taken can all affect this. Then add in the fact that all drinks are not created equal. Different types of drinks have different amounts of alcohol, and they may be made or served by people who don’t measure precisely. Plus, if you are distracted by socializing (or how much you have already had to drink), you can easily lose track. The bottom line is that on one day, it may take you three drinks to reach a .08% BAC, but on another day, as little as one drink could move some people over that line. It’s important to educate yourself about the dangers of driving under the influence.
Even a “first offense” DUI arrest can lead to substantial fines, court costs, potential jail time, mandatory probation, and mandatory driver’s license suspension. Ideally, just don’t drink and drive. But if you are already under suspicion or already arrested for a DUI, remember that you can refuse to take a test to measure your BAC (but if you opt for that, it can be shared in court). It’s always a good idea to consult an attorney if you have been arrested for an Alabama DUI.
So What Should I Do If I Get Pulled Over for DUI in Alabama?
For starters, pull to the side of the road, put your car in park, turn off the engine, and don’t panic. Remain as calm and cooperative as possible. Keep your hands within sight of the police officer, speak calmly with the officer, and show them your license and registration right away. Don’t make any sudden moves — make clear, deliberate moves to help the officer understand that you are complying with their request to stop and show ID.
As the officer asks you questions, be polite, don’t lie, and don’t “overshare.” It never hurts to call them “officer” and politely say “hello” or “good evening” as you roll down your window and begin to speak with them. They don’t need the full details of your evening or any excuses. They just need to know if you are safe to drive, and they will ask you questions and observe your behavior to help determine this — which is their job. Even if you have only had one drink, they may be able to smell it on your breath, and they can and will record this information, so don’t lie or pretend otherwise if you have been drinking. Just share as little information as possible.
While you are pulled over, your main goal should be to remain calm and not make the situation worse. If you prefer not to take a field sobriety test, that is your choice, but that information could be used against you — your refusal could imply that you would have complied if you were sober. Make sure to keep copies of any and all paperwork the officer gives you. If you or a passenger in your car has a phone handy, you might consider recording the interaction, but try to do so as discreetly and or politely as possible.
If you are arrested and taken into custody, continue to stay calm and call a trusted family member, friend, or attorney as soon as you can. If you are placed in jail, that doesn’t mean you will stay there indefinitely, but it will probably take a lot of time for the wheels of justice to begin to turn, and you may have to post bail before being allowed to leave. Just get through it one hour at a time. You can talk with an attorney and figure it all out later when you are back in your own home.
How Do You Get Back on the Road Safely After an Alabama DUI?
Work with an attorney to make sure you fulfill all legal obligations and pay all necessary fines, and then make sure you are properly licensed and insured to drive. Get a file and keep all paperwork related to the DUI, your driver’s license, and your car insurance. Keep the file in a place you can easily access when you need to do so.
Depending upon the situation, you could have your driver’s license suspended for a specific period of time. Don’t drive until your license is back in good standing. It won’t be fun, but it will protect you from further issues. The bottom line is to make sure to learn your rights and obligations, follow the rules, and meet the deadlines.
Can I Get Car Insurance Again If I’ve Had a DUI?
In a word, “yes.” You will want to work with an insurance advisor to learn about your options, but if you have a valid driver’s license, you can get car insurance to help you get back on the road. It’s probably not something you have thought much about, but DUIs are common, and all drivers must carry liability insurance equal to the minimum required by Alabama to operate a motor vehicle.
The good part about this is that there are insurance advisors who are knowledgeable and judgment-free when it comes to helping drivers in your situation get back on the road with affordable car insurance that will meet your needs.
Like all states, Alabama has minimum required amounts for auto insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per person
If your car is not fully paid for, you will also be required to carry collision insurance of at least the amount you still owe on your car loan. When you meet with an insurance advisor, be sure to lay out the exact details about your situation — the DUI, your driver’s license status, what kind of vehicle you own, and whether you still owe money on it. By knowing where you are coming from, they can help you find insurance that will be a good fit for both you and your wallet.
How Can I Be Proactive After an Alabama DUI?
Great question! Always have a plan for a sober ride in advance. Whether you simply don’t drink, have a trusted designated driver with you, or have the app for a ride-sharing service on your phone, be prepared. It’s not worth it to risk another DUI. The penalties get worse after your first one.
If you or a friend or family member is concerned about your drinking or chemical use, consider talking with a counselor. We live in a stressful world, and we all need to take good care of both our physical and mental health.
Find Affordable Auto Insurance in Alabama Today
If you’ve gotten a conviction for DUI, USAgencies Insurance can help you get back on the road again. To learn more about how you can get affordable car insurance after an Alabama DUI, visit us for an easy online car insurance quote, call us at 800-420-3712 today or stop by an office!