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What Is Alabama’s Drugged Driving Law?

Posted on July 16, 2018

As is the case in every state in the U.S., drugged driving is illegal in Alabama. Drugged driving can refer to being under the influence of illicit substances as well as legal prescription drugs if they impact the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. Drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence (DUI) crime in Alabama that can result in criminal charges and penalties, as well as impacts to your driving privilege. Here’s what our experienced Birmingham DUI attorneys have share about this serious offense.

Alabama Code Section 32-5A-191

Drivers can find the state’s drugged and drunk driving statute in Section 32-5A-191 of the Alabama Code. This law states that no person shall drive or be in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance that renders the person incapable of safely driving. It also prohibits operating a vehicle under the influence of any substance that impairs one’s mental or physical faculties in a way that renders him/her incapable of safely driving. Driving under the influence of a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance is also illegal.

If police find you in violation of this law by driving under the influence of drugs, you could face criminal DUI charges. The penalties for DUI conviction in Alabama is imprisonment for up to one year, and/or a fine of up to $2,100. You would also face driver’s license suspension for at least 90 days unless you agree to install an ignition interlock device for six months. These devices require you to breathe air with no blood alcohol concentration level before being starting your car.

If you receive additional DUI convictions after your first offense, you could face penalties up to one year in jail, $10,100 in fines, and five-year license suspension. All DUI offenders in Alabama will also have to complete a mandatory substance abuse program. Our experienced personal injury lawyers in Birmingham have seen the consequences of drugged driving taking the lives of innocent people on the road. Getting a DUI for drugged driving could impact your personal and professional life. You might lose your job, especially if that job involves driving. A DUI will stay on your driving record forever.

What Legal Drugs Can Impair a Driver?

Alabama’s drugged driving law does not only apply to illegal controlled substance such as heroin, methamphetamines, or marijuana. It applies to all drugs and medicines that could impair a driver’s ability to drive safely. This includes over-the-counter and prescription medications. Many medications, especially those for colds, may cause symptoms such as drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion that can impact the ability to operate a vehicle. The following are legal drugs that could result in a DUI in the wrong circumstances:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Hydrocodone
  • Painkillers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Valium

Different drugs will affect drivers in different ways. Always try a prescription or OTC medication first when you don’t drive to see how it might affect you. What you eat and other medication combinations can also result in symptoms that make you an unsafe driver. When in doubt, don’t drive after taking any type of drug. It isn’t worth the DUI conviction or the risk of causing an auto accident.

What to Do If Facing a Drugged Driving Charge

To convict you of drugged driving, an Alabama court will use proof against you such as the results of a drug test and the testimony of the arresting police officers. You can receive a DUI charge regardless of the amount or type of drug in your system if there is enough evidence proving that the substance made you incapable of driving safely.

If you’re facing a criminal trial because police caught you driving under the influence of drugs, contact a defense attorney in Alabama immediately. Hiring an attorney can optimize your odds of reducing the charges and penalties against you, or even dismissing the charges altogether based on your defense strategy. A Birmingham car accident lawyer can help you protect your rights and safeguard your future, especially if this is your first DUI offense.