DUI FAQ

Frequently Asked DUI Questions

Is it true that I don’t have to be driving to be arrested and charged with DUI?

Yes. Alabama law states that you do not have to be driving to be arrested for DUI, provided that you are in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. If you are just sitting or sleeping behind the wheel of a parked car with the ignition keys in your pocket, you can be arrested for DUI if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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What is DUI manslaughter?

As with other manslaughter crimes, DUI manslaughter is causing the death of someone else in an auto accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unlike murder, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the defendant intentionally killed the deceased or displayed a “reckless disregard” for the deceased’s life. Only negligence, such as choosing to drink and drive, must be proven.

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What is DUI murder (reckless)?

DUI murder is a charge that someone may be given if they cause an accident in which someone is killed while they are under the influence. This charge is similar to the charge of DUI manslaughter but involves a reckless indifference to the loss of human life that the law regards as equivalent to the intent to kill. This might involve, for example, a situation in which a DUI defendant, having already caused an accident and taken into custody, posts bail, and upon release from custody continues to drink and drive, causing yet another accident in which someone is killed.

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If I am stopped on suspicion of DUI, do I have to answer the Law Enforcement Officer’s questions?

If you are stopped by the LEO on suspicion of DUI, Alabama law states that you are required to give the officer your name and address and are required to produce your driver’s license, your automobile registration and written proof of mandatory liability insurance. You do not have to answer questions about activities, including whether you have consumed any alcohol. If the officer asks you questions like this, you should say that you have been advised not to answer such questions and that you would like to speak to an attorney.

You should not, under any circumstances, lie to the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO). There is often a very strong temptation, especially if you have been drinking, to tell the officer you have had nothing to drink, or that all you had was a “couple of beers,” and that was several hours ago. This is a huge and potentially disastrous mistake for two reasons.

In the first place, the officer is a trained professional with experience in evaluating the sobriety of drivers. If you have been drinking, the officer will smell liquor on your breath and will also make a judgment about your condition based on your speech, agility and coordination, as well as other factors. The officer will almost certainly know immediately that you are lying. Nobody likes being lied to, and you may be certain the officer will tell the jury of your lying if your case goes to trial.

In the second place, your lie will seriously hamper your lawyer’s cross-examination of any forensic experts that may testify for the prosecution. It may be an hour or more after you are stopped before you are given a chemical (blood, breath or urine) test, by which time your alcohol level may have either increased or decreased. Forensic experts typically give an opinion, based on the results of your test, as to your alcohol level at the time of the stop. A qualified DUI attorney will lead the expert into a discussion of how alcohol is absorbed into the system and then burned off. The expert can be compelled to admit that if alcohol was still being absorbed into your system when you were stopped, your alcohol level at that time may have been much lower than when the test was actually administered. If you lied to the officer about having had nothing to drink for several hours, the expert will tell the jury this means that all the alcohol you consumed was completely absorbed into your system by the time of the stop. Then he will testify that this means your blood alcohol was higher when you were stopped than when you took the test.

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What happens if I’m arrested for DUI and refuse to take a chemical test?

Under Alabama law, anyone arrested for DUI is required to submit to a blood, breath or urine test to determine the alcohol level in the blood. Refusal to take a chemical test will result in an automatic 90-day loss of your driver’s license imposed by statute 32-5-192, Code of Alabama.

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What is a PBT or PAS?

The Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test or Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) involves having the subject blow into a small hand-held device. It is a “breath test” of sorts, but it has been widely criticized as unreliable by scientific experts, for giving inaccurate and false, high readings. You are not required to take the PAS or PBT test, and if you have consumed any alcohol, you should respectfully decline to take the test. On the other hand, if you have not consumed any alcohol, you probably should take the PAS or PBT. A zero or low reading on the device may result in your immediate release.

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Will a DUI conviction affect my auto insurance?

Yes. In most cases, a DUI conviction triggers cancellation of automobile insurance. If this happens, you will be referred to an “assigned risk” carrier and will face premium increases that can be very substantial.

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What is an administrative DUI suspension?

Alabama law provides for a 90-day administrative suspension of the driving privilege by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Driver License Division.

There are some circumstances under which the suspension may be prevented or modified but only if you make a formal application with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Driver License Division within 10 days after your arrest. If you are arrested for DUI, you should contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

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Why do I need a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases?

The effective defense of DUI cases is extremely complex and requires uniquely specialized training and skills. A qualified DUI lawyer is knowledgeable in everything relating to the effects of alcohol consumption in the human body; this includes the manner in which alcohol is absorbed and then “burned off.” An experienced DUI lawyer is well-acquainted with the forensic experts called by the prosecution and is aware of any weak points in their qualifications that can be shown on cross-examination.

Your personal injury lawyer and the lawyer who drew up your will are probably very skilled and talented attorneys, but their training and experience may be of little use to you in a DUI courtroom. Your driver’s license, your financial resources, your livelihood and your liberty are all at stake in a DUI prosecution. You need an experienced DUI attorney to defend you!

If you or a loved one has been arrested and accused of a drunk driving-related crime and require the immediate professional services and trusted legal advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, please contact The Law Office of John T. (Tommy) Kirk today at (334) 730-4461 or use the contact form provided on this site to schedule your initial consultation.

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