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Is Your License Suspended Immediately After a DUI in Alabama?

Kesling Law Firm  May 30, 2024

DUI charges come with a roster of potential consequences, and one of the most troubling is license suspension. In Alabama, as with many other states, a DUI arrest can result in immediate suspension of your driver's license.  

But this immediacy is less black and white than it may seem at first glance. If your chemical test shows 0.08% or more blood alcohol content, or you refuse to take the test in the first place, the police officer will serve you a notice of intended suspension

While this process is automatic, you will generally receive a temporary license that is valid for 45 days from the date you receive a notice of intended suspension. 

The 45-day temporary license period provides individuals with an opportunity to prepare for the impending suspension. This timeframe allows drivers to make necessary arrangements, such as attending to work commitments and arranging alternative transportation.

Plus, the 45 days give individuals the chance to challenge the suspension through an administrative hearing. By requesting a hearing within this period, you can present their case and possibly prevent the suspension from taking effect, ensuring they have a fair opportunity to contest the charges before any long-term consequences are enforced. 

Before we get into further details—if you or a loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence in Baldwin County, Alabama, get in touch with us at the Kesling Law Firm. Our experienced DUI lawyer is here to help you understand your options and fight to protect your rights. 

Administrative vs. Criminal Suspension

There are two types of license suspensions following a DUI arrest in Alabama: administrative suspension and criminal conviction suspension. These two processes are separate but can overlap in terms of their impact on your driving privileges. 

Administrative Suspension 

Upon being arrested for a DUI in Alabama, your driver's license enters an administrative suspension process. This type of suspension is triggered as soon as you are arrested, but it does not take effect immediately. Instead, the suspension starts 45 days from the date of your arrest. However, to avoid or delay this suspension, you must act quickly. 

You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to file an appeal against the administrative suspension of your license. If you fail to request a hearing within this period, your license will automatically be suspended after the 45-day window.  

Partnering with a knowledgeable DUI attorney immediately can help you navigate this critical time frame and potentially preserve your driving privileges. 

Criminal Conviction Suspension

In addition to the administrative suspension, if you're convicted of a DUI in criminal court, further suspension of your license will be imposed based on the specifics of your case: 

  • If it's your first offense: Up to 90 days suspension 

  • If it's your second offense (within ten years): 1-year suspension 

  • If it's your third offense (within ten years): 3-year suspension 

  • If it's your fourth+ offense (within ten years): 5-year suspension 

These suspensions begin after any court proceedings are completed and are separate from the initial administrative suspension. 

Other Factors Influencing Suspension Length

Beyond how many prior convictions you have, several factors influence the length of a driver's license suspension following a DUI conviction in Alabama, including: 

  • Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels: Higher BAC levels at the time of arrest can result in more severe penalties. 

  • Refusal to submit to chemical tests: Refusing a breathalyzer or other chemical test can itself lead to a suspension under Alabama's Implied Consent laws, with durations varying based on how many refusals or prior DUIs you have.  

  • Age: Underage offenders face longer suspension periods, especially if they are underage and have a high BAC at the time of arrest. 

  • Aggravating factors: If your DUI involved accidents, injuries, or fatalities, you can expect increased penalties and a longer license suspension period. 

Reinstating Your License

After serving your suspension period, you don't automatically get your license back. Several steps are necessary to reinstate your driver's license: 

  1. Paying a reinstatement fee: This fee starts at $275. 

  1. Submitting proof of financial responsibility: Typically, this involves filing an SR22 form from your insurance provider. 

  1. Completion of required programs: These may include alcohol or drug treatment programs, education courses, and evaluations mandated by the court. 

  1. Passing required tests: You may also need to pass both written and road tests administered by the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS). 

Partnering with a skilled criminal defense attorney can significantly ease this process. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the administrative appeal within the critical 10-day window, represent you during hearings, and develop a strategy to minimize your penalties.  

They can also assist in meeting the requirements for reinstating your license, ensuring that you complete all necessary programs and submit proper documentation.  

Ignition Interlock Device Requirement

For certain DUI convictions, especially those involving high BAC levels, accidents, or repeat offenses, Alabama law may require the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.  

This device requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before starting your car, adding another layer of compliance needed to regain your driving privileges. 

Legal Help Is Here When You Need It

While an administrative suspension doesn't technically take effect immediately, it's crucial to act quickly—within 10 days of your arrest—to appeal the suspension. Failing to do so will result in losing your driving privileges 45 days post-arrest.  

Working with an experienced DUI attorney can make a critical difference in managing both administrative and criminal suspension processes. 

At Kesling Law Firm, we're committed to assisting clients through every step of the DUI process, from challenging administrative suspensions to defending against criminal charges. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or refused a chemical test, contact me immediately. We serve clients throughout Baldwin County and the Alabama Gulf Coast, and we're here to help you protect your driving privileges and your future.