I wanted to take this opportunity to alert you to changes in the DUI code, 32-5A-191, that will impact us all beginning on July 1, 2018.  The way of determining sentencing ranges and the utilization of ignition interlock have been substantially altered during the most recent legislative session.  What follows is a short summary of the changes that take effect soon.

The DUI code section was first adopted in 1980.  During the early years of the DUI law, we have determined sentencing ranges based on conviction dates.  Since 2006, there has been a 5 year look back for DUI convictions, meaning that previous DUI convictions cannot be used to determine the appropriate sentencing range if that DUI conviction occurred more than 5 years from the conviction date.  Act 2018-546, sponsored by Senator Orr, changes the way we look at prior DUIs.  The change now allows prosecutors to go from conviction date to offense date.  This change allows for the time to stop running at the current offense date, so there is no concern about how long or how many appeals the defendant files in court.  Also, the look back provisions have been amended from 5 years to 10 years.  Finally, this bill amends this provision so that if an individual has a conviction for felony DUI (regardless of the conviction date), all future DUI arrests will be a felony.

Alabama’s ignition interlock law first came into effect in September 2011.  Act 2018-517, sponsored by Senator McClendon, addresses the ignition interlock provisions of DUI.  The most significant change to the interlock law is the requirement that any DUI admitted to a pretrial diversion program must include an ignition interlock device upon entrance into the program.  This subsection will sunset after five years.  The second change is an elimination of the doubling section as it applies to ignition interlocks.  Another alteration to the implementation of ignition interlock is the money involved with such programs.  Instead of a $75 fee for 4 months after conviction, the fee is $200 and may be paid in installments.  Also, if the court declares the defendant indigent, he or she is not required to pay the court fees associated with interlock, installation fee of the ignition interlock, or the maintenance fees for the interlock. These fees may be waived for those in a pretrial diversion program, as long as the program waives their fees for indigent defendants.  Finally, a new condition imposed by this act is that there must be an interlock provider within 50 miles of his or her residence, business, or employment or one does not have to be installed by a defendant.

Please never hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns, or requests for assistance.