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Ex Parte Lindsey, 989 So. 2d 1164 (Ala. 2008)

Practice Area: DUI and DWI

Outcome: (Not available)

Description: In this case, the trial court’s ruling, in effect meant that the City of Decatur would have great difficulty in prosecuting DUI cases. Since the city of Decatur ordinance used to prosecute DUI cases was inconsistent with the wording of the state DUI law was worded, it was held by the Court to violate Alabama’s state constitution. In the Circuit Court of Morgan County, Lindsey’s DUI case was dismissed by the trial judge because the defense argued that §16-1(e) of the City of Decatur Code was inconsistent with §32-5A-191 (the Alabama DUI Statute) and therefore unconstitutional. The Circuit Court trial judge held that the City of Decatur Code §16-1(e) was void because it “violates the Alabama constitution and state statutes that prohibit a municipality from passing laws inconsistent with State law” and that the ordinance, as it is written, “effectively precludes any sentence for a conviction for DUI in the City of Decatur.” The City of Decatur appealed the ruling of the Circuit Court to the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court of Criminal Appeals did not agree with the decision of the trial judge and held that the Alabama code section to use in determining whether a city fine is appropriate for a DUI is §11-45-9(b) and not §32-5A-191. Therefore, since §11-45-9(b) was held to be the governing statute for municipal DUIs, the City of Decatur ordinance was held to be valid and the fine did not exceed the amount that was authorized by law. The last portion of this decision focused on City of Decatur Code §16-1(e). The Circuit Court ruled the §16-1(e) “as written effectively precludes any sentence for a conviction for DUI in City of Decatur.” However, the Court of Criminal Appeals in “reading the ordinance in context” ruled that the city council intended for §16-1(e) would provide the penalties for the municipal offense of DUI. Lindsey filed a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Alabama, The Supreme Court granted certiorari, meaning they agreed to hear the case, then changed their mind and quashed the appeal. The Supreme Court stated that it did not agree, however with everything in the Count of Criminal Appeals’ opinion.

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