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Alabama Drugged Driving

In Alabama, a person is guilty of a DUI if he or she (1) operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of driving safely, OR (2) operates a motor vehicle under the combined influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree which renders him or her incapable of driving safely. Ala. Code Ann. §§ 32-5a-191(a)(3)-(4) (West 2010).

Affirmative Defense

The fact that any person charged with DUI is legally entitled to use a controlled substance does not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section. Id. § 32-5a-191(d).

Implied Consent

In Alabama, a person suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol has, by virtue of driving in the state, consented to provide a sample of breath, blood or urine to police for testing in order to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her system. However, implied consent law does not require that an individual suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or controlled substance submit to a chemical test in order to screen for the presence of drugs in his or her body. Ergo, in Alabama a chemical sample from an accused person should only be given on a voluntarily basis, and no penalties or sanctions apply for refusal to submit to chemical testing for drugs.

An exception applies if a motorist is involved in an accident that causes serious physical injury. In such a case, state can take blood sample to test for cannabis impairment. Id. § 32-5A-192.1(a).

Penalties

  • First offense - imprisonment for not more than one year, or by fine of not less than six hundred dollars ($600) nor more than two thousand one hundred dollars ($2,100), or both; license suspension for a period of 90 days.Ala. Code Ann. § 32 § 32-5a-191(e) (West 2010).
  • Second offense (w/i five years) - fine of not less than one thousand one hundred dollars ($1,100) nor more than five thousand one hundred dollars ($5,100) and by imprisonment, which may include hard labor, for not more than one year; mandatory imprisonment of not less than five days or community service for not less than 30 days; license suspension for a period of one year. Id. § 32-5a-191(f).
  • Third offense - fine of not less than two thousand one hundred dollars ($2,100) nor more than ten thousand one hundred dollars ($10,100); imprisonment, which may include hard labor, for a mandatory minimum of 60 days, but not to exceed one year; license suspension for a period of three years. Id. § 32-5a-191(g).
  • Fourth or subsequent offense Class C felony - fine of not less than four thousand one hundred dollars ($4,100) nor more than ten thousand one hundred dollars ($10,100); imprisonment of not less than one year and one day, but not to exceed 10 years (the sentence may be suspended, but only if defendant enrolls and successfully completes a state certified chemical dependency program); license suspension for a period of five years. Id. § 32-5a-191(h).

Other Penalties & Penalty Enhancers

  • DUI with child under 14 in the vehicle doubles minimum punishment. Id. § 32-5a-191(n).

Sobriety Checkpoints

Alabama allows law enforcement officials to conduct roadblocks under the Federal Constitution.

  • Roadblock set up for purpose looking for intoxicated drivers does not violate constitution if carried out with a specific plan and in such a way that only minimal wait is involved for each motorist. Smith v. State, 515 So.2d 149(1987)
  • Turning around before approaching checkpoint, without possibility that turn was in order to avoid delays associated with checkpoint, provides an officer with reasonable suspicion in order to justify an investigatory stop. State v. White,28 So.3d 827(2009).

Case Law

Leu v. City of Mountain Brook, 386 So.2d 483 (Ala.Crim.App.1980) – Driving after ingesting a drug which renders driver incapable of safely driving is a violation of state law.

Raper v. State, 584 So.2d 544 (Ala.Crim.App.1991) – To convict, the prosecution must prove that defendant was under the influence of a substance to the extent that it affected his or her ability to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.

Lunceford v. City of Northport, 555 So.2d 246 (Ala.Crim.App.1988) -- Implied consent law does not apply on private property. Production of a breath sample is voluntary on private property.

Krumm v. City of Robertsdale, 648 So.2d 651 (Ala.Crim.App.1994) – Evidence that defendant was in possession of marihuana was inadmissible. Defendant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, not driving under the influence of both alcohol and a controlled substance. Probative value evidence of possession did not outweigh its potential prejudicial effect.