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If an individual has a first offense DUI charge in the Birmingham area, the case will either be in a municipal court or in a district court. What distinguishes which court the case goes to is what law enforcement agency made the arrest. A Birmingham first-offense DUI lawyer can clarify the best approach for you based on the facts of your case. If you are charged with a first offense DUI, an experienced DUI lawyer can help.

Prosecution and the Court

If it was the municipal police department on a first offense DUI, it will go through the municipal court. If it was a state trooper or a sheriff’s deputy, it will go to the district court of the county. The only exception for a first offense is that if an individual is under the age of 18, the case will always go to the juvenile court of the county, and the municipal court does not have jurisdiction over DUI cases for juveniles.

Every prosecutor is different in how they handle first offense DUI charges in Birmingham and they have complete discretion in how they prosecute the case or what offers or deals are made. However, the jury prosecutors on first offense DUI charges, if an individual is successfully and competently represented, will agree to what is called a “pretrial diversion” wherein the case could be dismissed if the individual abides by certain rules and conditions.

In Alabama, courts tend to treat first offense DUI offenders seriously. They have the mindset that if they can let the person know how serious a DUI is on the first offense DUI, hopefully, they will not be back in front of them on a second, third, or subsequent offense. However, if an individual is successfully and properly represented, many times a competent, Birmingham first-offense DUI defense lawyer can deal with the judge and have a first offense DUI case dismissed or reduced.

Diversion Programs

In Alabama, there are what are called “pretrial diversion programs” that are sometimes offered to first-time offenders especially in the Birmingham, Alabama area. The key thing to understand is that a pretrial diversion for DUI first offense charges is completely discretionary with the city prosecutor and an individual must be properly represented by a DUI lawyer to better the chances and opportunity of reaching this type of agreement.

A pretrial diversion essentially means that that person’s DUI case is put on hold and if an individual abides by certain terms and conditions, normally DUI classes, the payment of court costs, and staying out trouble, then when they come back to court at some predesignated period of time, normally around  six to 12 months, if an individual has successfully completed all terms, then the case will be dismissed or reduced.

First-Time DUI Penalties

On a first offense DUI in Alabama, the state law says that an individual faces a monetary fine between $600 and $2,100 plus costs of court, which differ from court to court but, typically, they range from about an additional $500. The fine is discretionary where an individual is within that range.

As well, the court could sentence a person from zero days up to 365 days in the city or county jail for a first offense DUI. However, there is no minimum mandatory time on a first offense DUI. A court could also place an individual on probation for up to two years.

There is an additional license suspension of 90 days. Then, depending on what a person’s alcohol breath test was, they could be subject to an ignition interlock for a period of two years. Lastly, if an individual is convicted of a first offense DUI in Alabama, they must complete what is called a “federal program,” which consists of DUI classes and random drug and alcohol testing.

Birmingham DUI Defenses

In defending a first offense DUI, an experienced Birmingham DUI defense lawyer will investigate many facets of the case including what the basis was for the initial contact of law enforcement, whether it be a traffic stop, an accident, or some type of other seizure.

Any roadside sobriety test will be evaluated and examined as to whether they were done in accordance with police procedures and the NHTSA criteria. Then, any forensic testing, whether it be for drugs or alcohol, will always be examined and evaluated for its accuracy and any administrative problems that might have arisen.

Birmingham First-Offense DUI Lawyer