Saturday, April 4, 2009

New bill proposed in Alabama Senate, which will double minimum penalties with a blood alcohol content of 0.15. Call Kreps Law Firm, LLC (866) 348-2889

Last year a bill that increased penalties for some DUI convictions stalled in the Alabama Senate. This year, the bill has been reintroduced and if passed will apply statewide including Alabama. The bill (SB10) was pre-filed back in October of 2008 and comes up for action in the Judiciary Committee in the beginning of February, 2009. The bill is more likely to pass this session, because last year's Judiciary Committee Chairman is expected to move to a new post as Senate Pro-tem.

The bill would double the minimum penalties for drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent (a BAC of 0.08 is the legal limit in Alabama). It would also increase the number of years a previous DUI would remain 'active'. Currently, Alabama has a 'look back' of five years. A DUI older than five years is dropped from consideration for subsequent DUI sentencing.

In addition, the legislation would add a provision for mandatory ignition interlock devices (IIDs). These require drivers to 'blow clean' before their car will start. Along with this, it is expected that a course of treatment and counseling will be required.

While it is impossible to predict what final form the law will take, DUI legislation in other states trends toward stiffer fines, jail, license suspension and more punishment. Arguments against raising the penalties revolve around the collateral damage inflicted on those convicted and their families. People with a social or chemical addiction to alcohol need education, monitoring, and treatment and not stiffer fines, penalties, license suspension, and jail time. In order to keep all of our families safe on the Alabama roadways, we have to change the views on how DUI offenders are handled.

Lack of transportation and loss of income (driver's license suspension/revocation and jail time) leads to a downward spiral driven by higher expenses (fines and fees). All of this occurs, at the same time as a reduced ability to meet these financial obligations (loss of employment).

A BAC over 0.08 percent and then possible increased penalties at 0.15 percent do not reflect the individual variations inherent in any population. How impaired someone actually is, and how fit or unfit they are to drive, cannot be distilled into a single number. But the law requires a set standard. Making 0.15 the standard for increased punishment doesn't improve enforcement or reduce recidivism, it is an arbitrary line needed to write clear legislation.

Joseph C. Kreps is an Alabama DUI Defense Attorney focusing on DUI and traffic violation cases throughout the state. Mr. Kreps is a certified Standardized Field Sobriety Test Practitioner and Instructor per NHTSA/IACP guidelines. He is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense. To discuss your pending Alabama DUI Drunk Driving Charge, please call Kreps Law Firm, LLC at (866) 348-2889, or email us at . You can also visit our firm website at .

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