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Alabama’s Implied Consent Law: The Legal Implications of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

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What is Alabama’s “Implied Consent Law?”

Alabama’s DUI statutes are severe and can never be taken lightly. In 2021, the state created additional sanctions (and subsequent penalties) if you are stopped and refuse to submit to a chemical, blood, breath, or oral fluids test after being arrested for a DUI. 

This legally mandated consent to testing is Alabama’s “Implied Consent Law.” Essentially, the law provides that anyone who operates a vehicle on the state’s highways must submit to a chemical test when a police officer tells them to. 

You should also note that this requirement for chemical testing is mandatory if you have an Alabama or out-of-state license.

Additionally, suppose you are stopped by police, arrested for a DUI, and refuse testing. In that case, the state prosecutor can use your refusal as direct evidence in criminal court as an implied admission of your guilt.

However, it does not mean that your skilled and experienced DUI defense lawyer cannot argue your case nor file a challenge to the alleged test refusal.

Will I Face Penalties If I Refuse Chemical Testing After My DUI Arrest?

First, note that you are required to take a chemical, breath test, etc., only if you have been legally arrested for DUI. The police officer must have “reasonable grounds” that you were driving under the influence to request you to take a BAC (or any other blood or chemical) test.

However, under the current Alabama law, you do have the right to refuse to submit to DUI chemical testing, but you may face harsh consequences if you do.
Let’s say you refuse to take a blood test.

The officer cannot force you to test, but if you still refuse, consequences will follow, such as;

  • Your refusal to submit to a chemical DUI test when a law enforcement officer demands you do so will almost immediately result in a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license. Also, during those 90 days, you will have no legal opportunity to obtain a restricted license.
  • Also, know that this minimum 90-day suspension of your driver’s license is in addition to any other charges, suspension, or revocation actions that may result if you are convicted of a DUI.

You may believe that if you don’t submit to a chemical test, a DUI conviction can be avoided or isn’t even possible. In Alabama, this is most definitely a false assumption.
If you refuse the chemical test, the prosecutor can tell the jury that you did so, and the jury can then use this refusal as evidence of your guilt. Also, even if you do refuse the BAC test, you can still be convicted of a DUI.

Of course, all DUI arrests differ, and depending on the specifics of your case, you could even be required to use an ignition interlock device (or IID) for a court-mandated time. So, an IID will almost always be installed in your vehicle if you refuse a chemical test in Alabama. Also, the length of time in which you must use the IID is almost always longer than for non-refusal DUI convictions.

Your thorough and committed DUI lawyer will explain that if you are convicted of a first offense DUI, you may not require an IID to be installed. However, the IID requirement is mandatory for two years if you have refused the chemical testing. If you refuse to test and it’s your second DUI offense, then you must use the IID for four years.  

Can I Get Jail Time for a DUI Offense in Alabama?

The simple answer is yes, you can. If your DUI in Alabama is classified as a first offense, and you’re convicted, you may receive lesser penalties. However, penalties may still include loss of driving privileges by suspension or revocation, additional court-mandated punishments, and, yes, even jail time. If you’re an adult driver (over 21), your penalties may differ from those of a minor or other youthful offender. Alabama does provide some benefits for first-time DUI offenders if they are minors.

Every DUI charge is challenging and can always have a severe impact on your daily life. However, an Alabama DUI lawyer’s skilled, diligent, and aggressive help will often determine how your case and consequences turn out.

Your knowledgeable DUI lawyer knows how to successfully present your case to the prosecutor and have your charges reduced or altered so that you don’t have a DUI on your permanent record.

One of the most important things your lawyer will protect is your right to drive. Depending on your case, your lawyer could file a license appeal to the Alabama Department of Public Safety; this is a multi-faceted legal effort to defend you in both an administrative manner and on your DUI criminal case. So, although the penalties for DUI can include jail time, legal options are open to you and your lawyer, but you must act quickly.

Possible Defenses For a DUI in Alabama?

Alabama’s DUI laws are harsh, and the implied consent law worsens the situation if you are stopped and arrested. Also, every DUI case differs in its severity and the specifics of the incident. 

That said, there are many defenses your skilled DUI lawyer may use; the three main ones are; 

  • Improper or Illegal Stop – The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states that the police cannot perform an unreasonable search or seizure of an individual or property. Therefore, the police must have “probable cause” to stop you. If they don’t, then your case could be dismissed.  
  • You weren’t operating the car – This can be a legally vague area in Alabama, but the prosecution usually must prove that you were the person operating the vehicle. If no evidence suggests you were driving, then the prosecutor may be unable to prove their case.
  • You were not impaired – Your DUI lawyer will work to prove that you weren’t impaired in one or more ways, such as; 
    • Discredit the chemical or other test results.
    • Dispute when your test was administered relative to the stop.
    • Find different ways to defeat the prosecutor’s evidence that you were impaired. 

I Have Been Charged With A DUI in Alabama; What Should I Do?

The DUI laws in Alabama are severe, and if you’ve been charged with even your first DUI offense, you must seek qualified, skilled, experienced, and aggressive legal help from a St. Clair County criminal defense lawyer DUI lawyer immediately.

Alabama’s implied consent law makes your legal situation more dire, and time is not on your side.

Jim Golden Law is passionately dedicated to protecting the rights and freedoms of his clients, no matter how desperate your circumstances may seem. Call him today at (866) 950-6652 for a free consultation on your DUI case, and he will bring all his experience and resources to bear to structure the best defense possible for your case.

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