Is a DUI a Felony? 7 FAQs on Alabama D.U.I. Laws


Whitney Polson, Alabama DUI lawyer and co-author of Alabama DUI Defense, on both the 2016 and 2021 editions. He is a Misdemeanor or Felony DUI Lawyer in Alabama.

The Alabama Legislature writes DUI laws in Alabama, including statutes outlining when a drunk driving felony can be accused. These “laws” are more commonly called “statutes.”

Every Alabama law enforcement officer, when receiving mandated training, is schooled on these statutes, and Constitutional law. This includes operating (or being in actual physical control) of a motor vehicle driving under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of a controlled substance.

One thing they learn at police training is to try to get suspected DUI drivers to attempt to do roadside tests, called field sobriety tests, which are voluntary. Watch this helpful YouTube video to learn your legal rights, when driving and pulled over.

As with most crimes, a person’s best chance at a favorable DUI criminal case outcome will be on a misdemeanor first offense DUI Alabama. Prosecutors may be willing to offer a “break” to a first offense DUI offender if your DUI lawyer shows flaws in aspects of the DUI arrest and post-arrest chemical testing.

Then, when disputes arise about how the statutes apply to a particular case, the Judicial system gets to determine the meaning of those Alabama statutes pertaining to DUI laws in AL. Unless the Legislature later acts to change the law, after a Court ruling, this new appellate court interpretation will alter the DUI defense strategies of your Alabama DUI lawyer.

In Alabama, When Is a DUI a Felony?

In general terms, a felony is a crime with state prison time of over one year. Being arrested for a DUI in Alabama, however, is seldom charged as a felony, since few repeat offenders ever reach the number of repeat offenses needed to cause a felony DUI in AL.

Some Alabama DUI felony laws call for a minimum prison sentence or county jail time of 1 year and 1 day or longer. Like all other states, the Alabama Legislature wrote its Alabama DUI laws to criminally punish violators who get repeat drunk driving cases over a fixed period of time, as well as take away their driver’s license.

This article on Alabama DUI laws explores "when is a DUI a felony?"

When it comes to DUI-DWI laws in ALL states, certain common “aggravating” factors tend to increase the likelihood of felony vs misdemeanor DUI. Whether the driving under the influence offense will be a misdemeanor or a felony, is typically based on the number of prior DUI (drunk driving) convictions, serious bodily injuries, or death, by virtue of drunk driving or drugged driving. So, fatalities or serious injury caused by drunken driving or drugged driving can be a felony DUI in Alabama.

When Is an Alabama DUI a Felony?

Under Alabama DUI laws, the DUI first offense (not involving a DUI accident resulting in serious injury or death or possibly for having a DUI with child in car) is a misdemeanor. The same general rule applied in all other states.

So, on a national level, the first offence DUI is a misdemeanor, unless another person has died in a DUI-related accident for the 1st DUI offense Alabama driver, or another person been seriously injured by your vehicle that is attributable to your DUI in Alabama. The Alabama DUI first offense conviction in a person’s lifetime is a misdemeanor, under Alabama DUI laws.

Felony DUI in Alabama – for a Fourth DUI Offense in AL

Class “C” Felony Imprisonment – For this crime, if convicted of a felony DUI, you can serve from 1 Year and 1 day to up to 10 Years. Jail Time is a Mandatory ten (10) Days minimum and up to Ten Year State Prison term, if Convicted of Class “C” DUI Felony.

Jail time is possible on any DUI offense. However, most first offense DUI offenders may not receive any additional time behind bars unless the person caused an accident seriously injuring other or causing death to another.

Fine – Minimum of $4,100 to a maximum of $10,100

Substance Abuse – Complete State-Certified Chemical Dependency Program License Suspension/Ignition Interlock– 5 Years revocation and 5 years of Ignition Interlock. After a minimum period of 1 year of revocation, and Ignition Interlock Device (IID) may be installed for 5 years to commute the balance of the revocation. An IID checks your breath, which yields an indirect “reading” of your blood alcohol content through an electronic attachment that is wired to your ignition switch.

DUI Probation – Up to 5 years

Under the Alabama DUI Statute, How Many DUIs Is a Felony?

The 4th DUI, or subsequent Alabama DUI convictions (within 5 years), is a DUI-DWI (driving under the influence) conviction that is a Class C felony DUI. A person convicted of DUI felony in Alabama will be sentenced to no less than one year and one day in state prison and no more than 10 years of imprisonment at an Alabama state prison. This wide variance in jail time gives a Judge the power to make a scofflaw pay, with prison time.

Reducing a long prison sentence is one beneficial area for a DUI attorney Birmingham AL to assist you, which usually only comes from having a known reputation for fighting DUIs and having top legal industry credentials. Such things can make a difference in what your criminal record shows, and this can mean the difference between getting hired for some jobs later.

DUI: Is it a felony? The citizen facing an Alabama DUI 4th offense (including a DUI or DWI from other states) will be fined between $4,100 and $10,100 Dollars. Plus, driving is no longer available for quite a while. The 4th offense DUI within 5 years faces having his or her Alabama driver’s license suspended for five (5) years. Upon conviction, the accused DUI Alabama offender will also be required to attend a court-approved substance abuse treatment program.

Why Was My Plastic Driver’s License Taken by Police?

The federal government, through an agency called NHTSA, oversees “compelling” conformity in highway traffic safety laws. One of these laws is an administrative license suspension law known as “implied consent laws.” A very short “window” exists for requesting an administrative hearing,

This is not a criminal statute. Instead, it seeks to suspend those drivers who are arrested for DUI in Alabama to acquiesce to breath tests (or blood tests, if drugs are suspected), else lose the right to drive.

For those who say “no” to post-arrest testing, harsh license loss can occur, by missing the 10 day filing date (within ten days after arrest). This is why DUI law firms in Alabama offer an initial free consultation, to get this important aspect of a DUI arrest covered. See Alabama code section, 32-5-171 for the wording of this Alabama DUI law.

Some may be eligible for installing and paying for an ignition interlock device (IID). This never applies to CDL operators who need to drive a commercial motor vehicle, in order to work. Plus, teens do not have the same IID rights as an adult driver.

Alabama implied consent laws call for license suspension if a person arrested for a DUI then refuses to allow breath alcohol testing or blood testing after arrest.

Whitney Polson Co-Authors Drunk Driving Book for Alabama DUI Laws

As mentioned above, Birmingham DUI attorney Whitney Polson co-authored the 2016 and 2021 editions of the book, Alabama DUI Defense, to help guide other attorneys and judges on the nuances of Alabama DUI laws.

As a leader in the Alabama DUI attorney community, this is Whitney’s way to give back to other Alabama lawyers and share his knowledge of Alabama DUI law and Alabama DUI penalties. The Polson Law Firm finds that their clients are comforted by the fact that their DUI lawyer “wrote the book” on DUI laws in Alabama.

Why now hire the law firm that has the man who wrote the book on Alabama DUI? Whitney Polson has been one of teh co-authors on the last two editions.

Get a FREE Lawyer Consultation Today With a Top Alabama DUI Lawyer

Arrested for an Alabama DUI? Need to hire a Birmingham criminal defense attorney? Call our criminal lawyers to find your Alabama DUI Lawyer. Call our DUI law firm now for immediate help, at (205) 871-8838. ON WEEKENDS or AFTER BUSINESS HOURS, use our 24-hour DUI Attorneys number at (205) 401-3171.

Headshot of Whitney Polson, the author of this article on DUI laws in Alabama.

Ask us about helping file your Alabama DPS appeal within 10 days after arrest.

Warning: If you were arrested for a DUI and your plastic license taken, you MUST act within 10 days to protect you right to keep driving. Call for a FREE consultation NOW. Don't wait, and miss the deadline.

Our FREE lawyer consultation and professional criminal case assessment is worth your time and energy. If winning your DUI Alabama case is your objective, call our Alabama DUI law firm today. To speak with a Birmingham DUI attorney, who is a DUI specialist on DUI laws in Alabama, don’t wait another minute. We will speak to you NOW, even on holidays and weekends.


Birmingham DUI Attorney

Office Phone: (205) 871-8838

Polson & Polson, P.C.

2824 Central Avenue #150

Birmingham, Alabama 35209

Whitney Polson or Mark Polson will review your DUI case facts, tell you more about your DUI court, and tell you the likelihood of getting your DUI reduced to reckless driving, as well as the chance of having the DUI dismissed for a first offense DUI.

We Can Come to You. We Fight DUI Charges Anywhere in Alabama.

Call us Today: (205) 871-8838