Alabama DUI Laws

Alabama DUI laws are straightforward. In addition to other penalties, offenders are subject to fines from $600 to $10,000, required to attend DUI school, and must file for SR22 insurance.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: May 9, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Laws concerning DUI convictions are very straight-forward in Alabama
  • The state mandates jail time after the second offense
  • Drivers with a DUI on their records can still shop around to find competitive insurance quotes
  • The safest course of action is to avoid drinking and driving


For those who have been involved in a case of driving while under the influence, you may be well aware of the Alabama DUI insurance laws. Let’s break them down, just in case you haven’t heard of them.

Alabama DUI law code §32-5A-191 states that persons with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater are considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

The only exception would be for persons under 21, or for day care or school bus drivers who would be under the constraint of .02% BAC or higher to be considered under the influence.

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Penalties for Alabama DUI Offenses

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The following are some penalties for a DUI received in Alabama:

First Offense – Misdemeanor

  • Possible Jail time
  • $600 – $2,100 in Fines
  • License Suspended for a Minimum of 90 Days
  • Requirement to Attend DUI School
  • 10 Days From Date of Arrest to Request Administrative Hearing for a Restricted License

Second Offense – Within 5 years of First Conviction – Misdemeanor

  • Mandatory minimum of 5 days and possibility of up to one year in jail
  • $1,100 – $5,100 in fines
  • License Suspended for One Year
  • Requirement to Attend DUI School

Third Offense – Within 5 years of Second Conviction – Misdemeanor

  • Mandatory minimum of 60 days and up to one year in jail
  • $2,100 – $10,100 in Fines
  • License Suspended for 3 years
  • Requirement to Attend DUI School

Fourth Offense – Within 5 years of Third Conviction – Felony if priors were within 5 years of this offense

  • Mandatory minimum of 1 year and 1 day and up to 10 years in jail
  • $4,100 – $10,100 in Fines
  • License Suspended for 5 years

The amount of jail time is commensurate with the following:

  • Prior record of DUI convictions within the past five years – this includes any DUI convictions outside the State of Alabama
  • BAC
  • If the incident resulted in an accident
  • Any third party bodily injuries
  • Whether there were any passengers in the vehicle – especially any passengers under the age of 14
  • The Alabama court or the county in which the case occurs
  • The judge sentencing the case
  • Whether or not the judge appreciates the defendant has accepted responsibility for his or her actions

The graduated penalties and additional punishment of license suspension along with the lowered BAC level has proven to be successful in bringing down the national average of fatalities due to drunk driving-related car crashes.

The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) in a 1999 report revealed that the per se laws in conjunction with other laws, such as license revocation, vigorous enforcement and the sustained effort to disseminate information and provide public education has resulted in fewer highway deaths, as well as reducing the number of chronic repeat offenses.

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Per Se Law

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It is important to understand that Alabama DUI arrests are conducted under the per se laws, which means it is a crime, per se (in itself) to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.

There are currently 45 States, DC and Puerto Rico that have set this lowered level from .10 BAC for drivers aged 21 or older.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended to Congress in 1992 that all States adopt this per se level of .08% BAC.

By 2000, congress passed the DOT Appropriations Act of FY 2001, meaning states that did not adopt this level would have their highway construction funds progressively reduced.

The statistics from the NHTSA bear out the significance of how the nation’s DUI laws have changed over the last twenty years.

As of 2009, the latest available figures reflect the rate of driving fatalities that could be attributed to impairment from alcohol decreased 44% per 100,000 population nationally, and as much as 58% for those aged under 21 years.

Out of the 33,808 people who lost their lives to traffic accidents in the United States in 2009, 10,839 died as a result of drunk driving crashes attributable to drivers that had an illegal BAC of .08% or greater.

These results support the NHTSA’s position that the relationship between BAC and a driver’s physical ability and mental acuity behind the wheel is such that performance will degrade with every drink that is consumed.

Further, Alabama is also considered an “actual physical control” state as it relates to being arrested for DUI, meaning the person under the influence need only be inside the car, and not actually driving the vehicle.

The totality of the circumstances is sufficient for police to make an arrest.

Actual physical control means a person has “exclusive physical power, and present ability, to operate, move, park or direct whatever use or nonuse” that is made of the motor vehicle at the time of the incident.

One should check out car insurance laws to see how this type of conviction would affect their insurance.

To sum this up, an Alabama DUI charge can be brought regardless of actual impairment.

Violation of the per se law essentially means the prosecution may go forward based on body chemistry alone, irrespective of the manner in which the person was actually driving their motor vehicle.

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Implied Consent in Alabama

As an implied consent state, any driver who receives their license in Alabama has agreed to submit to the chemical testing of their blood, breath or urine in the process of determining their blood alcohol concentration (BAC), should there be a lawful arrest on the charge of DUI as per law code §32-5A-191.

First offenders on a charge of DUI in Alabama only have ten (10) days from the date of their arrest to request an administrative hearing through the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The Alabama Implied Consent Proceeding is the result of failing or refusing a chemical test.

The implied consent suspension will start 45 days from the date of arrest and extend anywhere from 90 days to as much as five years.

This mandatory suspension period will be imposed without the chance of obtaining a restricted driving privilege upon refusal of a chemical test or if a request for hearing has gone beyond the ten-day limitation.

One should check and see what the maximum amount of points allowed on their driver license is to ensure they do not lose their license.

SR-22 Filing – Alabama Insurance Requirements

Along with the condition of license suspension is the requirement to attend the court-ordered DUI School or substance abuse program.

In order to reinstate driving privileges, proof of successful completion of the program must accompany proof of financial responsibility before reinstatement will occur.

The SR-22 insurance filing is a requirement made by the insurance company that issues the automobile insurance policy for the driver intending to reinstate and maintain their license following a DUI conviction.

Make no mistake: the premiums for this coverage are not cheap. For this reason, it is good to shop competitive insurance quotes for the best price.

The SR-22 filing is required for no less than 3 years following license reinstatement.

This filing is intended to ensure that ceaseless coverage is maintained, and any lapse in coverage–even being one day late on paying the insurance premium–obligates the insurer to notify DPS of the lapse, resulting in immediate revocation of the license.

You can also look at getting DUI/DWI Insurance with your insurance company. This can come at a high price but it’s better than going uninsured.

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Miscellaneous Alabama Insurance and DUI Facts

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The following are some final Alabama insurance and DUI facts:

  • The period of time between convictions is 5 years. Should a second offense occur after this period of time, it is considered a first offense.
  • An Alabama DUI conviction will appear on a driver’s record and cannot be expunged.
  • The “Driver License Compact” is the agreement between Alabama, the District of Columbia, and 44 other states obliging them to report to “home states” the incidents of any DUI convictions. This will prompt the states from where the driver is originally licensed to take the proper action to suspend that license in accordance with the per se laws.
  • Insurance becomes a critical piece in all of this. Once an insurance company learns of the conviction, they may certainly raise the car insurance rates in accordance with state regulations or they may decide to cancel the policy altogether.

Whatever the case, there are car insurance companies ready to insure a driver who possesses a DUI conviction on their record. It is wise to obtain multiple quotes to compare pricing and to be certain the company will do their part in filing the SR-22 for the duration.

Don’t wait any longer! Compare car insurance by state and find the best way to save on DUI insurance. Enter your ZIP code below to get started!

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