Don’t even Drink and Sleep

Driving under the influence is a very serious offense. Perhaps understanding a little bit about how alcohol affects the brain will draw a clear picture.

The cerebral cortex processes information from your senses. This is where the voluntary muscles get their signals. This is where the thinking process begins. This is what happens with alcohol:

* Slows down the brains ability to process information from the senses. This means the normal muscle control is slower. You have trouble hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting. Your threshold for pain is higher, so you can be hurt and not notice.

* Depresses the behavioral inhibitory centers. You feel more confident to say whatever you are thinking, you tend to be more talkative and more social than usual.

* Hinders the thought process. You don’t have the skills to make good judgement calls or think clearly. Information is being processed differently because of the alcohol.

It is obvious that driving under the influence is not a good idea.  Each state is able to set up their own laws regarding driving under the influence.  Alabama has some fairly  tight laws.

Alabama has the “Implied Consent Law”.  “Any person who operates a motor vehicle upon the public highways of this state shall be deemed to have given his consent to a chemical test or tests of his blood, breath, or urine to determine blood alcohol content” . If you refuse to take the test requested by an officer your drivers license will be suspended.

The blood alcohol level or BAC that marks a person as available for a DUI is .08% or more. In Alabama the laws does not require that person be caught driving the car.  Someone who is over the limit and has “actual physical control” may be charges. Actual physical control is the exclusive physical power, and present ability, to operate, move, park, or direct whatever use or non-use is to be made of a motor vehicle at the moment, as determined by the totality of the circumstances. This gives the officer a lot of latitude. If someone is asleep in the car and the BAC is over the limit, the person could legally be charged with a DUI.

Once an arrest has been made and the license has been has been suspended there are only 10 days to get the paper work in to possibly preserve the license. This does not necessarily need a lawyer, but it may be worthwhile to be represented.

In Alabama on the first convicted offense, the person has a life-time misdemeanor. The defendant may be giving a sentence of up to 365 days in municipal or county jail. The fine can be anywhere from $600 to $2,100.  The defendant will be required to attend a court approved substance abuse class to be paid for by the defendant. Driving privileges will be suspended for a  minimum of 90 days.

A second DUI within 5 years comes with higher fines, a longer jail sentence or community service and the license will be suspended for no less than one year. This time the offender will be required to enter into an approved treatment program.

A third DUI conviction the defendant will spend no less than 60 days and no more than 1 year in the county or municipal jail. The license will be suspended for no less than three years and there are increasing fines.

For the fourth DUI it jumps to a class C felony.  A person with felony DUI will be sentenced to no less than one year and one day and no more than 10 years imprisonment.

There are  other sanctions that can be placed as well.

Clearly DUIs are taken seriously in Alabama.