Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Changes to Alabama DUI Laws

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed a law which enhances the penalties for aggravated DUI offenses .

Aggravated DUI charges result from driving with a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher. The old law provided punishment for driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

The actual text of the bill as follows

Enrolled, An Act, Relating to Alabama's DUI law; to amend Section 32–5A–191 of the Code of Alabama 1975; to provide for a mandatory sentence of at least double the minimum punishment for a person convicted of DUI who has 0.15 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood while operating or being in control of a motor vehicle, as well as a one-year minimum sentence for a misdemeanor offense and a minimum one-year revocation of the person's driving privileges; to provide that if a person over 21 has a child under 14 in the vehicle during the offense, the person must be sentenced to at least double the otherwise applicable minimum punishment; and in connection therewith would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 111.05 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended.

The act becomes effective on the first day of the third month following passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law. It was approved on June 9, 2011.

While the intentions of this law may be to reduce the number of DUI's and fatalities and injuries as a result, it could create some problems for law enforcement and the court system in terms of challenges. We certainly advocate any efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road, but as defense attorneys we want to make sure all laws are fair and constitutionally sound.

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