Helena’s annual Buck Creek Festival was, as always, a lot of fun this year. I’d like to thank everyone who came by the Davidson Law Firm “Official Sponsor” booth to visit as well as all the very hard working volunteers who make this event a success. Helena’s festival has quickly become a highlight for Shelby County and just keeps getting better each year.
Just before the frog strangling rain came Saturday evening it dawned on me that perhaps some advice on drunk driving laws was in order. I’m not sure but perhaps our close proximity to the well stocked and popular beer booth was the inspiration for this week’s article. Obviously, the first bit of advice is to not drive drunk! I would go so far as to say don’t drive after having more than a few drinks as that very well might earn you a .08 BAC on the good old breathalyzer and 12 hours as a guest of the city or county. Simple enough yet around 15,000 Alabamians are arrested each year for DUI.
DUI’s are also an enormous pain in the rear end. By rear end I primarily mean your wallet although there are significant jail terms possible with every DUI conviction. Here’s what you get for your good time:
1st DUI – Up to 1 year in jail and/or $600 to $2,100 in fines and loss of license for 90 days.
2nd DUI – Five days to one year in jail and $1,100 to $5,100 in fines and loss of license for one year. The mandatory 5 days can be replaced with 30 days of community service by the Judge.
3rd DUI – 60 days to 1 year in jail and $2,100 to $10,100 in fines and loss of license for three years.
4th DUI – This is a Class C Felony. One year and one day to 10 years in prison and $4,100 to $10,100 in fines.
If you had a really good time and “blow” a .15 or more all of the minimum punishments are now doubled and you lose your license for one year. If you have a child under the age of 14 in the car with you all of the minimum punishments are doubled.
There will also be Court Costs, attorney fees and the costs of the mandatory court referral program that all add up to thousands of more dollars. In the City of Helena the court costs for a DUI are currently $540.50 and for a first time DUI in Helena I charge $1,000.00. You can see where this adds up very quickly.
On September 1st the new ignition interlock device laws will go into effect in Alabama and those that are convicted of a second or subsequent DUI, “blow” over .15, or have someone under 14 with them they will get the fun privilege of periodically blowing into a tube to keep their car cranked and running. I will write specifically on the new law in a later blog.
Lastly, there are a lot of myths out there about DUI’s. They are almost all false. You can get a DUI for alcohol, prescription medication, narcotics or even medicines such as cough syrup and Benadryl. If you give a drunk person a lot of coffee and a cold shower you will only end up with a wired, clean, and cold drunk. Pennies, mints, mouthwash, and all the other assorted things people put in their mouths to try and throw off the breathalyzer don’t work and could get swallowed (referring again to pain in the rear end). The only thing that brings sobriety is time.
The rule of thumb for an average person is to make sure you eat before consuming alcohol and only consume one beer or mixed drink per hour. I strongly advise waiting at least one hour after your last drink before driving if someone else cannot drive. There are few crimes that Courts and prosecutors have lower regard for than DUI. You are not only endangering yourself but everyone man, woman and child on the road with you. MADD’s slogan is simple and true … “Don’t Drink and Drive”.