Interviewer: Are there any alternative punishments to DUI? Are there diversion programs, or house arrest, or SCRAM bracelets – that kind of thing?
Brett Hollett: Yes, there are. Some municipalities and some counties do have diversion programs. Some also do have the alcohol monitoring and/or SCRAM bracelets. Diversion programs are pretty prevalent now in the state.
Interviewer: Is it recommended that people try to qualify for a diversion program or they hard to get into it without an attorney?
Brett Hollett: It depends. Typically, a diversion program is a good opportunity for anybody who desires to have their case dismissed. If you are accepted into a diversion program you can control your own destiny. You will be required to take drug and alcohol education classes as well as submit to random drug and alcohol screens. You may also be required to complete some community service and pay any court costs. However, once you successfully complete all the requirements of the program, your DUI will be dismissed or nol prossed. Avoiding a conviction for DUI will also keep the person from having any additional suspension levied on their driver’s license. Qualifications for admittance into a diversion program will vary county by county. Typically, diversion programs are reserved for first-time offenders. However, we’ve been successful in getting some repeat offenders into these types of program. Diversion programs may not be for everyone though and it is important that you understand what the consequences of failing out or not completing the program may be.
Interviewer: Does the program have a name or is it just a diversion program?
Brett Hollett: Most people just refer to them as a pretrial diversion program.
Interviewer: In some states, they have special names for it.
Brett Hollett: In some municipalities, they may call them by the municipality’s name like Hoover, Vestavia or Mountain Brook DUI Diversion. They basically are just referred to as diversion programs.
Interviewer: For first-time DUIs, what are all the potential penalties, and the jail, and all that stuff?
Brett Hollett: For a run of the mill 1st time DUI, a person could face up to one year in jail, a fine ranging from $600 all the way up to $2,100. They’d also be facing an additional 90-day suspension on their driver’s license if they’re found guilty. Any person convicted of a drug or alcohol offense will also have to complete a substance abuse program approved by the court. However, due to the new super DUI law, if the person refused the breath test or if they blow over 0.15% BAC, they’re subject to double the minimum punishments and fines. So a refusal or a BAC over a .15%, the person is facing fines ranging from $1,200 to $4,200 and a 180 days suspension on their driver’s license.
Interviewer: Also, in the jail portion, is it likelihood that a first-time offender will get jail or is that more reserved for repeat offenders?
Brett Hollett: Typically the jail sentence will be suspended. For a first-time offender, unless there’s a really high BAC result or unless there are some other aggravating factors, we can most likely have that jail sentence suspended or probated and they won’t have to actually spend any time in jail.
Interviewer: For second offense and upwards, what are some of the penalties and things that can happen?
Brett Hollett: A second offense is definitely more serious. If it happens within the five-year period, they are looking at a fine of not less than $1,100 up to $5,100 and a jail sentence of up to one year. Moreover, a second DUI includes a mandatory jail sentence of five days and that’s not subject to suspension or probation. However, the law will allow the person to complete 30 days (240 hours) of community service in lieu of the five days in jail. Granting someone community service is at the sole discretion of the judge and having a competent attorney can definitely increase the chances for getting community service versus jail time. The person would also have to enroll in a complete a mandatory substance abuse and/or DUI program approved by the court. A guilty plea or verdict will also result in your driver’s license being suspended for 1 year and you will be required to install an interlock device on your vehicle.
Interviewer: I guess, third offense on up, is there a chance of felony, or what happens?
Brett Hollett: A third conviction for DUI in a person’s lifetime is still a misdemeanor, but the fines jump up substantially ranging from $2,100 to $10,100. The minimum jail sentence is 60 days but may last up to one year. Your license is going to be suspended for three years and you will be forced to install an interlock device on your vehicle. A fourth or subsequent conviction for DUI is a class C felony. The person is facing jail time of one year and one day up to ten years in the state penitentiary. They face a range of fines from $4,100 to $10,100, and they will also have to complete the mandatory substance abuse and/or DUI program approved by the court. The person’s driver’s license will also be revoked for a period of five years.
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