Alabama DUI Laws and Penalties

How Alabama defines “driving under the influence” (DUI) and the consequences of a conviction.

In Alabama, a motorist can get a DUI for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while "under the influence" (impaired) or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.

Actual physical control. While "driving" is commonly understood, the phrase "actual physical control" is not. Effectively, it indicates that the vehicle need not actually move for the person who's behind the wheel to get a DUI. Alabama courts have defined actual physical control as the "exclusive physical power, and present ability, to operate, move, park, or direct whatever use or non-use is to be made of the motor vehicle at the moment." In other words, a DUI conviction is possible if the accused had the ability to operate the vehicle.

Under the influence. Whether caused by alcohol, drugs, or other substances—or any combination thereof—a driver may not be under the influence to a degree that renders him or her incapable of safely operating a vehicle. However, if the driver has a BAC of .08% or more, the impairment element of the DUI is presumed. The BAC threshold is reduced to .04% if the licensee is driving a commercial vehicle and.02% for drivers under 21 years old.

Jail Time and Fines for Alabama DUI Convictions

The minimum and maximum jail time and fines you'll face for a DUI conviction in Alabama largely depend on how many prior convictions you have. For a first, second, or third DUI within the last ten years, the judge is permitted to order jail time or a fine—or both—within the following parameters.

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

Jail Time

Up to 1 year

5 days to 1 year

60 days to 1 year


$600 to $2,100

$1,100 to $5,100

$2,100 to $10,100

As part of the sentence—and as a requirement to license reinstatement—the convicted must obtain and abide by the recommendations of a substance-abuse evaluation, which may include treatment and counseling.

Double trouble. If a driver's BAC test results show .15% or greater or if the driver had a passenger under 14 years old in the car, the minimum penalties listed above will be doubled.

License Suspensions for an Alabama DUI

Upon notification of a conviction, the State of Alabama will suspend or revoke the driver's license. Depending on the circumstance, the driver may then be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). The periods of time for suspensions, revocations, and IIDs are listed below.

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

Suspension Period

90 days

1-year revocation

3-year revocation

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

6 months possible (2 years required with BAC of .15% or more, passenger under age 14, injury accident, or BAC test refusal)

2 years (4 years with BAC of .15% or more or BAC test refusal)

3 years (6 years with BAC of .15% or more or BAC test refusal)

However, an offender may be eligible to begin the IID period during the suspension or revocation period. Successful completion of the IID requirement can commute the suspension or revocation period.

Alabama' Implied Consent Laws

Alabama's "implied consent" laws specify that all motorists agree to take a urine, blood, or breath test if lawfully arrested for driving under the influence. Motorists who refuse a breath test will be subject to a 90-day suspension for a first refusal and a one-year suspension for subsequent occurrences.

Talk to an Attorney

A DUI conviction in Alabama can carry dire consequences including jail, license suspension, and fines. However, oftentimes, some of these penalties can be mitigated or avoided completely. For these reasons, it is best to consult with a seasoned DUI attorney to help determine your options.

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