DUI Clues and Investigation

Question: What are some of the clues that police are looking for when they begin to investigate a suspected drunk driver in Alabama?

Answer:Police are trained to have three different phases of DUI detection. Number one is called the vehicle in motion, which would include things such as traffic infractions, unusual driving actions and the stopping sequence of the suspected drunk driver. The second stage is what we call personal contact, which is typically at the window of the vehicle where the officer is looking for certain things from his sight, hearing certain things, smelling things; the condition of the person, the smell of alcohol or drugs, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes. And then they give divided attention tasks, such as asking the driver to provide multiple documents at the same time. Third phase is what we call pre-arrest screening, which includes field sobriety testing.

Cost of a DUI Attorney

Question: How do I pay for a DUI attorney to represent me in Alabama? Is all of the money due up front?

Answer: At Polson & Polson, we offer a complimentary case evaluation to determine the best game plan necessary to favorably and aggressively defend your case. After that consultation, we will be able to assess what type of fee we will charge and then at that point offer different payment options. We take cash, check, major credit cards and allow flexible payment plans over time. We do not require all of the money up front; however, typically the balance of fee is due before we go to court. All of these arrangements can be made at the consultation.

DUI Look Back Period

Question: What is a look back period? What is the look back period for a DUI in Alabama?

Answer: In DUI jurisprudence, the look back period is the term used in how far back a sentencing court can look at a person’s record to determine the number of prior DUI convictions they have to then be used to increase the person’s sentence if they’re convicted or plead guilty. In Alabama, the current law says that a court can look back five years for mandatory sentence enhancement; however, a sentencing court can look at a person’s entire lifetime record from a discretionary standpoint. In terms of the look back period, you go by the date of conviction not by the date of arrest to determine the number of convictions within the look back period.

Pleading Guilty to DUI

Question: Can you explain what happens when someone pleads guilty to DUI in Alabama?

Answer: In Alabama, when someone pleads guilty for DUI they are then sentenced by the court. The range of sentence is dictated by the number of prior convictions the person has within a five-year period of time. As well as being sentenced, the person also is ordered to do a mandatory drug and alcohol assessment and then complete the required classes and monitoring. The person’s drivers license will then be suspended, as well as the potential to have to have an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle.

Impact of a DUI & Divorce or Adoption

Question: Can divorce, custody of children and adoption be impacted by a DUI conviction in Alabama?

Answer: A collateral consequence of a DUI conviction could be a negative impact on a child custody situation pending in a divorce case and/or a family wanting to adopt a child. In those types of matters in those types of situations, the court will look at the best interest of the child and, obviously, the best interest will be to be placed in a safe environment. If someone is convicted of a DUI, that could be used against them in having custody granted, visitation rights or the ability to adopt a child. Therefore, it’s very important to aggressively defend a DUI case prior to a conviction to avoid that potential collateral consequence.

DUI Job Background Check

Question: Will an Alabama DUI arrest and/or conviction show up on a background check for a job?

Answer: A DUI arrest and/or conviction could show up on a background check for a job. When you talk about records or background checks, there’s really three different types of records that a potential employer could look at: number one would be a driver history; number two would be just a generic background check; and then number three would be an arrest history. On a driver history, only a conviction for DUI would show up. So as long as the case is dismissed, there should be nothing on the driver history. In terms of a generic criminal background check, only, again, convictions should show up; so, as long as the case is dismissed, that record should remain clean. However, the arrest history is something that’s there forever once you have been accused of a DUI. However, if your case is dismissed, now in Alabama you have the right to seek what’s called an expungement and even have the arrest history cleaned up. So the bottom line is it’s very important to aggressively defend your case to protect those three records in terms of a potential future employer doing a background check.

Job Loss After a DUI

Question: Will a DUI in Alabama cause me to lose my job?

Answer: In Alabama, a DUI conviction could be a basis to affect your job or to lose your job. However, just being accused of a DUI does not mean a conviction. So it’s very, very important to contest the charge, stand on your presumption of innocence and aggressively defend the charge in court, because if convicted it could potentially affect your license, your employment, your insurance.

DUI Conviction & Jail Time

Question: Is it better to take the breath test and blow over the legal limit or to refuse the breath test in Alabama?

Answer: There’s really no right or wrong answer in terms of taking the breath test; however, if someone refuses the test, it does place the burden on the government to establish their level of impairment through other indicators as well. It creates the argument that if the government did not seek a blood or urine test via a search warrant, that they did not include a complete evaluation in the investigation of the case. However, if someone does take the breath test and registers over the legal limit, there are various defenses we may use to contest that result and try and suppress that from evidence as well. If you do submit to the government’s test, you have an absolute right to request an independent test of your blood alcohol content, and if the government fails to provide you with that test, it would be a basis to exclude their test from evidence against you.