Additional Points of Law to Consider
Driving While Suspended or Revoked: Under the Code of Alabama, 1975, section 32-6-19 (a), the Director of Public Safety is authorized to add an additional six months revocation period for conviction of driving while suspended or revoked. By standard practice of the Department of Public Safety, if the licensee is already revoked when the conviction notice is received, the Department will as a matter of procedure add the additional six months revocation period. However, if the licensee is only suspended, the Department will wait to receive two driving while suspended convictions before changing the license status from suspended to revoked.
In cases of driver license revocation, the necessity of SR-22 insurance prior to re-licensing and the high costs involved in securing SR-22 insurance will deter many individuals from becoming re-licensed, but the individual can mitigate the situation by serving the required revocation period and paying the required reinstatement fee. The license status will then change from revoked to ‘no driver license.’ This change in license status will greatly affect the adjudication of the next driving offense: the fine for ‘No Driver License’ is only $10 to $100, plus the additional penalty of $50, as compared to a fine of $100 to $500, plus the additional penalty of $50, for driving while suspended or revoked. See, Code of Alabama, 1975, section 32-6-18 and 32-6-19. Additionally, the Department will not add an additional six months of revocation period for a conviction of ‘No Driver License.’
Competent counsel should advise the suspended or revoked driver to make every effort to avoid a subsequent conviction of driving while suspended or driving while revoked. This may include the procedural steps of seeking a delay in trial until the licensee is eligible for re-licensing, making an offer in the initial trial court to plead guilty to the offense of “No Driver License” or taking an appeal to the circuit court in effort to postpone the date of conviction.
Commercial Licenses: Any conviction of DUI will result in a one year disqualification of the CDL. A second DUI conviction will result in a lifetime disqualification. The disqualification of CDL is a mandatory duty of the Director and cannot be set aside, waivered, or suspended. The DUI conviction need not be as a result of operating a commercial vehicle. Operation of any type vehicle while holding a CDL and subsequently convicted of DUI will result in the disqualification.
Minor in Possession Statutes: Interestingly, there are two different “under 21” in possession of alcohol statutes contained in the Code of Alabama. The first statute, codified at 28-1-5, prohibits any person under the age of 21 “to purchase, consume, possess, or to transport” any alcohol or malt or brewed beverage. The statute imposes a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100 upon conviction. A sentence of up to 30 days imprisonment may be imposed under this section, at the discretion of the court. There is no provision for suspension of driver license under this statute.
The second statute, codified at 28-3A-25, subsections (19) and (22), are more expansive in scope than 28-1-5. Subsection (19) prohibits any person under the age of 21 to “attempt to purchase, to purchase, consume, possess, or to transport any alcoholic beverage in this state.” Subsection (22) makes it an unlawful act for any person under the age of 21 to “knowingly use or attempt to use a false, forged, deceptive, or otherwise nongenuine driver’s license to obtain or attempt to obtain alcoholic beverages within this state.” Violation of either subsection (19) or (22) establishes a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500, authorizes a sentence of up to three months incarceration, and requires the Department of Public Safety to suspend the driver license of the individual for not less than 90 days and not more than 6 months. The suspension of driver license is a mandatory duty of the Department of Public Safety, and will be imposed without regard to treatment as a Youthful Offender or juvenile status.