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A person facing a third drunk driving allegation typically faces a number of obstacles when disputing such claims. Law enforcement typically takes these allegations very seriously and may push hard for severe penalties upon the accused. You may need the help of an Alabama third-offense DUI lawyer in order to avoid harsh jail time and potentially steep fines. Contact an accomplished attorney to begin your defense.

How Charges are Prosecuted More Vigorously than the First or Second Offenses

Third offense DUI charges in Alabama are still considered to be misdemeanors. A third offense is determined by the number of prior convictions a person has for DUI within a 10-year period, from the date of arrest backward. If a person has two prior DUI convictions within the 10-year period, the new arrest constitutes a third offense. That being a misdemeanor, the case either goes to the Municipal Court of the jurisdiction in which the person was arrested or the District Court of the jurisdiction in which the person was arrested.

The third offense case is taken more seriously than a first or second offense by courts due to the increase in the range of potential penalties. The maximum fine could be up to $10,100 and the minimum mandatory jail sentence, which cannot be probated, jumps from five days to 60 days. Courts typically treat third offense DUIs far more seriously than a second or first offense DUI and it may be highly unlikely that the court would sanction some kind diversionary process for a third offense DUI.

What Penalties Might a Defendant Face

In Alabama, if a person is convicted of a third offense DUI, they may face a monetary fine of $2,100 up to $10,100, a minimum of 60 days in jail up to one year, three years of driver’s license revocation, and a minimum of three years of ignition interlock. After a minimum period of 60 days of suspension time, a person could have a driver’s license reinstated for the balance of the three years of ignition interlock.

How Attorneys Could Approach a Third Offense DUI charges

On any DUI charge, an experienced Alabama third-offense DUI lawyer could:

  • Develop and build defenses based on the constitutionality of the search and seizure, and the arrest determination
  • Look at toxicology issues and paperwork issues
  • Examine jurisdictional issues

A third offense DUI charge may include issues of recidivism, meaning that prior convictions could be used for sentence enhancement. When that is the case, challenging those previous convictions may be important. A person’s prior DUI conviction may not necessarily be admissible in court against them.

There are stringent guidelines and criteria that the past conviction may need to meet. An experienced DUI lawyer could use these guidelines to challenge and potentially drop the third offense to a second offense or first offense and lowering the potential penalties.

What Happens to an Individual’s License After a Conviction?

If a person was convicted of a third offense DUI in the state of Alabama, they may face a hard driver’s license revocation of three years. That suspension could be commuted after a minimum period of 60 days of license suspension by installing an ignition interlock device for a period of three years, which is mandated by law for third offense DUIs in the State of Alabama.

Differences When Challenging License Suspension

In Alabama, on a third offense DUI, a person fighting a third offense DUI could face two separate driver’s license suspensions. After the field sobriety tests, if there is a breath test of a 0.08 or greater, or a refusal to take the breath test, a three-year suspension plus an additional three years revocation could result upon conviction. The state code might commute the entirety of that suspension if the individual installs an ignition interlock device for a period of 36 months after only having served a minimum of 60 days of suspension. An experienced DUI lawyer may take a six-year driver’s license revocation down to a 60-day revocation and could commute the balance by installing the ignition interlock for a period of 36 months.

Penalty Enhancements or Aggravating Factors

There may be several aggravating factors in a DUI case that might increase the range of penalties. The most typical may be prior convictions. If a person has more than one conviction, they may face a second offense charge. If they have more than two convictions, they may face a ­third offense charge. They may face a felony DUI if they have three or more convictions within a 10 year period.

Other aggravating circumstances might include the refusal to take a breath test, a breath test 0.15 or greater, children in the car, or an accident with an injury.

Consulting a Third-Offense Alabama DUI Attorney

Any person in Alabama charged with a third offense DUI may need to take the case seriously and hire the very best Alabama third-offense DUI lawyer possible. They face a potential mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail. Those 60 days in jail cannot be probated or suspended.

A seasoned experienced DUI defense attorney may bring knowledge and experience to the table to try to avoid a conviction or to mitigate the charge down from a third offense to avoid serious penalties.