Alabama DUI Laws & Penalties

Like many states, Alabama treats drunk driving as a serious offense. The long-term effects of a DUI charge on a driver’s license can cause continuous trouble for the person convicted. Alabama drunk driving laws can be confusing and even a simple mistake, such as taking a field sobriety test, may cause a driver to be charged with a DUI. The easiest way to avoid a DUI is to never get behind the wheel after drinking. However, Alabama’s DUI laws allow police officers to make arrests even if a person is not physically driving a car. Due to complexities such as this, it is a good idea to understand the Alabama DUI process.

What is Considered Drunk Driving in Alabama?

In Alabama, a person can be considered a drunk driver by two measures. The first is blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. This is a concrete number that can be measured by a breathalyzer test. In Alabama, a driver is considered drunk if they are of legal drinking age (21 or above) and have a BAC of 0.08% or more. This limit is lowered by half for drivers operating a commercial vehicle (0.04%) and drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 will face DUI penalties for a BAC of 0.02% or more.

 While BAC is a fairly exact measurement of alcohol levels, it is important to recognize that alcohol does not affect everyone in the same manner. Where one person may seem capable of driving even with an elevated BAC, another person may become incapable of driving well before he or she reaches the legal BAC limit. This is the second measure by which Alabama police can arrest a motorist for drunk driving: visible impairment. A driver who may be under the legal BAC limit can still be convicted of drunk driving in Alabama based on evidence that he or she was too impaired by alcohol to safely operate a vehicle.

One of the most important things to know about Alabama DUI laws is the technicality of “actual physical control” of a vehicle. Through “actual physical control,” a motorist does not even need to be driving the car to be arrested for drunk driving. Physical control of the vehicle refers to the driver having the physical power and ability to operate the vehicle. Under this definition, even a driver who is simply sitting in his or her car can be arrested for drunk driving.

Alabama First Offense DUI Penalties

Drivers arrested for their first DUI in Alabama face a misdemeanor criminal charge. The exact penalties for a first offense DUI can vary based on the severity of the drunk driving. Although ultimately up to a judge, a person arrested for DUI in a parked car may face lesser penalties than a driver arrested after causing an accident. Even a first DUI offense can lead to jail time or a revocation of the driver’s license. In addition to a 90-day license suspension, those arrested for first time DUIs will face:

Potential Jail Time First Offense DUI in Alabama

First time dui offenders in alabama can face up to 1 year jail time Jail time: Up to one (1) year in municipal or county jail. There is no minimum jail sentence required for first time DUI offenders in Alabama.

What are the potential fines for a first dui in alabama?

Fines for a first offense dui are up to $2,000 Fines: First time offenders will be required to pay a fine between $500-$2,000, as well as a $100 fine to the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

What happens if i refuse a breahtaylzer for first dui in alabama?

A BAC test refusal for a DUI is a violation of the implied consent law in Alabama BAC test refusal: Under the Implied Consent laws of Alabama, the Department of Public Safety has the right to suspend your license for 90 days, even if you are not arrested.

Do I have to take a DUI class following a first offense DUI in Alabama?

First time DUI offenders in Alabama will be required to attend a DUI class and have an evaluation done. DUI Class Requirement: All Alabama drivers charged with a DUI must be evaluated for substance abuse and attend a DUI school class.

Is community service required following first DUI in Alabama?

There is no required community service time for a first DUI in Alabama Community Service: There are no specific community service requirements for a first DUI offense in Alabama.

Will i be required to have an ignition interlock after a first DUI in Alabama?

An Ignition interlock is required in certain situations for first time DUI offenses in Alabama Ignition Interlock Requirement: An ignition interlock device (IID) connects to a car’s ignition and requires a driver to pass a breathalyzer test before the car will start. For first time offenders, an ignition interlock device is only required under specific circumstances: driver is arrested with a BAC of 0.15% or more, refused a chemical test (breathalyzer), caused an accident, or were arrested with a passenger 14 years of age or younger. Drivers who volunteer to install an IID may have their 90-day license suspension waived.

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Alabama we strongly suggest contacting one of our DUI lawyers for a free consultation.

Alabama Second Offense DUI Penalties

An Alabama driver charged with his or her second DUI within a five (5) year period is considered a second time offender. Penalties for a second offense DUI in Alabama are increased in severity from those of a first offense. The most noticeable difference, and likely the most concerning for offenders, is a second DUI arrest requires jail time. Second time DUI offenses also carry a hefty increase in loss of driver’s license. Whereas a first offense results in a 90-day suspension, a second DUI offense in Alabama comes with a driver’s license revocation of one (1) year.


What is the required jail time for a second offense dui in alabama?

A second time DUI in Alabama will result in a minimum jail time of 48 hours but can be up to 1 year Jail time: Drivers facing their second DUI offense are required to serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail. A judge may sentence up to one (1) year of imprisonment for second-time drunk driving convictions. Though the 48-hour imprisonment is mandatory, judges have the option to sentence a second-time DUI offender to community service in place of the minimum jail sentence.

What are the fines for a second offense DUI in Alabama?

A second offense DUI can result in fines up to $5,000. Fines: Similar to a first offense DUI charge, those charged with a second DUI offense are required to pay a $100 fee for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund. In addition, fines for a second offense are increased to $1,000-$5,000.

What happens if you refuse a BAC test for a second DUI in Alabama?

 If you refuse to take a breathalyzer for a second DUI in Alabama your license is automatically suspended for one year BAC test refusal: Drivers who are facing their second DUI and refuse to take a BAC test may have their licenses suspended for one (1) year, even if they are not arrested.

Do you have to take a DUI class for a second DUI in Alabama?

All second time DUI offenders in Alabama must attend a DUI class and evaluation DUI Class Requirement: Second-time drunk drivers in Alabama must attend a mandatory DUI class and undergo a substance abuse evaluation.

Is community service required following a second DUI charge in Alabama?

The judge may waive the jail time for a second offense DUI in Alabama and give community service instead Community Service: As mentioned above, a second offense DUI charge requires jail time. However, this mandatory 48-hour imprisonment can be waived by the judge in favor of community service with a requirement of 20 days or more.

Alabama Third Offense DUI Penalties

A third drunk driving arrest shows to Alabama courts that the driver, in his or her current conditions, is not suitable for the responsibility of a driver’s license. As such, a driver arrested for his or her third DUI faces penalties greatly increased in severity. Mandatory jail time can no longer be waived for community service and a driver’s license will be revoked for three (3) years.

What is the jail sentence time following a third DUI in Alabama?

There is a mandatory 60 day jail sentence that must be served following a third DUI conviction in Alabama Jail time: The shortest jail sentence for a third offense DUI in Alabama is 60 days. This is mandatory and cannot be probated or suspended. A judge may sentence a third-time drunk driving offender to up to one (1) year in jail.

What are the potential fines following a third DUI in Alabama?

A third DUI conviction in Alabama can result in fines of $2,000 to $10,000 Fines: Drivers convicted of a third DUI will face fines of $2,000-$10,000 in addition to the $100 fee for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

What happens if i refuse a breath test for a third DUI arrest in Alabama?

Breath test refusal for third DUI in Alabama results in automatic license suspension and ignition interlock BAC test refusal: Much like first and second DUI offenses, if a third offense drunk driver refuses a BAC test and is arrested, an IID will be installed in his or her car.

Do you have to take a DUI class following a third DUI in Alabama?

There is a mandatory evaluation and DUI class following a third DUI in Alabama. DUI Class Requirement: A mandatory assessment of substance abuse and a DUI class are required for drivers arrested for drunk driving a third time.

Is community service required for third DUI offender in Alabama?

Community service cannot replace jail time for third time DUI offenders in Alabama Community Service: For third-time offenders, community service cannot be served in place of jail time.

Is an ignition interlock required following a third DUI in Alabama?

An ignition interlock is required for third time DUI offenders in Alabama Ignition Interlock Requirement: Drivers with more than one DUI on their records are required to have an ignition interlock device installed and maintained in their vehicles.

Alabama Commercial Driver’s License DUI Laws

Commercial drivers in Alabama are expected to follow stricter driving laws than regular motor vehicle drivers. As such, the BAC limit for commercial drivers is lower (from 0.08% to 0.04%). Even if driving under the legal limit, a CDL driver may still be put out of service for any measurable alcohol content. Refusing to take a chemical test results in a two-year suspension of a CDL designation.

Commercial drivers who are arrested above the legal limit, even in a non-commercial vehicle, will face a one-year disqualification of their CDL designation. If the driver commits a second DUI in Alabama, he or she will have the CDL designation permanently revoked. Any commercial driver who is convicted of a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle may also be subject to the penalties for regular DUIs in addition to the loss of his or her commercial designation.

Alabama DUI Laws for Under 21

The “zero tolerance” alcohol laws in Alabama prohibit any person under age 21 to consume alcohol. Teens and young adults under 21 years old who chose to drink and drive will have their licenses suspended for 30 days and be required to take a substance abuse evaluation for a first underage DUI offense. If the underage driver is arrested with a BAC over the adult legal limit of 0.08%, he or she may be convicted of a regular DUI and face the same penalties as adults. This can include incarceration or admittance to a juvenile correctional facility.


Alabama DUI laws focus primarily on preventing future violations. Through substance abuse evaluation and education, as well as license suspensions, the state offers convicted drivers the chance to avoid drinking and driving in the future. Additionally, the use of ignition interlock devices in Alabama seeks to prevent motorists from driving drunk by removing their cars’ ability to start if over the BAC limit.

Additional Alabama Resources you may need:

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