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Having a DUI on a person’s record may lead to several professional and legal consequences. A person may lose certain career opportunities upon conviction and may be forced to serve steep fines or jail time. Individuals may even lose certain driving privileges. If you are facing DUI charges, you may be advised to contact an Alabama first-offense DUI lawyer. A knowledgeable DUI attorney may be able to explain your legal options and could champion your case.

Where are Charges Typically Heard?

If a person is accused of a first time DUI offense, the case would typically be heard either in a Municipal Court or in a District Court. The defendant could go to Municipal Court if they have been arrested by a municipal police officer. If the individual was arrested by a county deputy or a state trooper, or by a municipal police officer who does not have a municipal court, then they could go to a District Court of County where they are presumed to be innocent and have the right to a trial which would be in front of a singular judge.

A first offense DUI indicates that a person did not have any prior DUI convictions within a ten-year period. Even a person who has had multiple DUIs more than ten years ago could still be considered a first offense and the case may be dealt with in either a Municipal Court or District Court.

How Prosecutors Could Handle a DUI Allegation

The prosecution could have unlimited discretion in how they handle DUI charge such as first offense. Jurisdictions and prosecutors may have the discretion to settle a DUI case by using a tool called the Pretrial Diversion Program which is offered to mitigate consequences. This tool may also be referred to as a Withheld Adjudication, a Pretrial Intervention, or a Deferred Prosecution. An Alabama first-offense DUI lawyer could represent an accused individual when dealing with these accusations.

How Courts May Treat First Time Charges

Courts in Alabama treat first time DUI charges seriously. As an attorney could explain, a person facing conviction could be subject to potential jail time, lock penalties, license suspension, and may have an interlock device placed on their car. Any DUI defendant may be presumed to be innocent and has a right to enter a not-guilty plea and have a trial. Whether the case is settled through a plea agreement, diversionary agreement, or trial, all courts in Alabama may treat first time DUI cases very seriously.

Diversion Programs or Probation Options an Accused Person May be Offered

The maximum term of probation a person accused of a first time DUI offense could be given is 24 months. Most courts dole out probation of between 6 to 12 months if the person completed all requirements such as payment of court cost and any court-ordered programs. Early release from probation must be granted by the court.

While diversionary programs differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, there may be similarities. Most diversionary programs might require a person to go through some kind of alcohol and substance abuse treatment program that typically lasts anywhere from three to 12 months and may include a random drug and alcohol screening, alcohol counseling, and classes.

Many jurisdictions might have other remedial programs which may include:

  • Defensive driving classes
  • Community service outlets
  • Payment of court costs
  • Fines

Numerous jurisdictions require the defendant to enter a guilty plea to the DUI that could be conditionally held until the person completes these programs. Jurisdictions may also require a person to enter a guilty plea of some, if not all, of the other citations or charges given with the DUI. The law in Alabama mandates that if a person is given a diversion only for a DUI charge, the person may also need to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle during the term of the person’s diversionary program even though the person has not been convicted. An experienced Alabama first-offense DUI lawyer could explain what diversion programs or probation options an individual could seek.

How an Alabama First-Offense DUI Attorney Could Help

When representing someone on a first time DUI charge, a seasoned Alabama first-offense DUI lawyer could build numerous possible defenses to the case. The attorney could examine the initial interaction with police officers to determine if that interaction legal and constitutional. There could be issues with the stopping of the vehicle, the seizure of the occupant of the vehicle, or the search of the vehicle. Lawyers may examine whether the arrest was legal and constitutional or whether that decision was made after a sobriety investigation on the roadside.

Other areas to look into may include the toxicology results of blood, breath, or urine. An attorney could also examine jurisdictional procedures, such as whether the charging instruments were appropriately filled out and verified before being brought before the court.

Speak to an Alabama first-offense DUI lawyer to learn how an attorney could assist you.