What is a DUI in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, DUI is an abbreviation for "driving under the influence". It relates to driving a vehicle under the dominance of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances that may impair the driver's ability to operate a vehicle. Under Mississippi state law, a DUI is a grave offense that carries severe penalties. Offenders may receive driver's license revocations, prison time, and fines as the consequences of their actions. However, the penalties are contingent on the gravity of the associated DUI offense, previous DUI charges, and driving history. The state's courts impose and enforce the penalties of DUI offenses in Mississippi. These offenses are typically included in the Mississippi criminal record of the offender, depending on the nature and severity of the crime.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Mississippi?
While some states in the USA use the terms driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) to describe various traffic infringements, Mississippi did not establish a difference between DUI and DWI. Anyone may use the terms to refer to alcohol and drug-associated traffic infringements or interchangeably. However, Mississippi recognizes DUI more. The abbreviation operating under the influence (OUI) is also used to refer to DUI or DWI in the state.
Mississippi DUI Laws
MS Code §63-11-30 contains the stand of the law against operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drug, or other intoxicating substance or chemical like paint fumes. The laws prohibit any individual from operating a vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, The limit for commercial vehicle drivers and minors is 0.04% and 0.02%, respectively.
In Mississippi, "under the influence" refers to a condition of intoxication that may hinder a motorist's average ability for control. However, regardless of the degree of impairment, the court may convict a driver for per se DUI for having a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Asides from the court, the Department of Public Safety functions to penalize traffic offenders.
DUI Penalties in Mississippi
The consequences for DUI in Mississippi vary based on the nature of the particular case and the number of former convictions an offender has. Usually, the court prescribes different penalties for first, second, and third DUI offenses. Therefore a person guilty of a DUI offense in Mississippi may face either of the following consequences:
- Fine between $250 to $5,000 depending on the frequency of the crime
- Incarceration period of about two days to 5 years
- License suspension
- Installation of ignition interlock
- Compulsory attendance to the driver education program
- Vehicle impoundment
- Drug/alcohol abuse assessment
However, the court may include some additional punishments for DUI under certain circumstances:
DUI that Results in Death or Injuries to Third Parties
If a motorist commits a DUI that results in the demise of a third party or maims, defaces, or forever disables or damages the eye, nose, tongue, lip, or any other organ, the offender faces a separate felony charge for each death or injury. Hence, the offender may be liable to a prison term ranging between five and 25 years for each charge.
Along with other DUI penalties in Mississippi, the Department of Revenue may prohibit a driver with a first DUI conviction while operating a commercial vehicle from driving a commercial automobile for one year. If the infringement occurred while the said driver was conveying hazardous materials, the suspension period goes up to three years. A second DUI conviction from a commercial driver attracts a lifetime ban on the operation of a commercial vehicle, with the possibility of a reduction to a period of ten years.
Drivers Under 21
The Zero Tolerance Laws for minors is part of Mississippi DUI laws that applies to young persons. The stipulations of this law are applicable only when an individual less than 21 years old drives a vehicle while having a BAC of 0.02% or higher, but not up to 0.08%. If the minor has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, the court convicts the offender with the laws applying to adults.
When a motorist less than 21 years old gets a first DUI conviction under the Zero Tolerance Law, the party faces a driver's license suspension for 90 days. The driver also pays a fine of $250 and must attend and complete an alcohol safety education course. In addition, the court may require attendance at a victim impact panel.
Furthermore, Mississippi enforces implied consent laws, making it a crime to decline chemical testing. If a driver refuses to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test, the state will take steps to suspend the party's driver's license or right to drive for a period of 90 days to one year. In most cases, this happens before any criminal proceedings for DUI, and it is automatic unless the individual files a test refusal petition within ten calendar days after receiving notification of intent to suspend. Filing this petition does not defer the suspension.
The test refusal hearing is not a formal proceeding and does not involve jurors. At the administrative hearing, the state may decide whether to suspend the license or reinstate it until the end of the DUI case. Also, the hearing provides an excellent opportunity for the defendant's lawyer to question the arresting officer under oath about the facts of the case.
What Happens When You Get a DWI in Mississippi?
DWI, which means driving while intoxicated, does not apply to Mississippi. The state refers to all drunk driving violations as driving while intoxicated (DUI). Therefore, when an officer accuses a motorist of committing a DUI offense, the law enforcement agent issues a citation and takes the driver into custody to await trial. The officer may also release the DUI offender on bail.
The court fixes a trial date to try the DUI violator who may get to face some punishments. These penalties vary based on individual circumstances. The most conventional penalties are completion of Mississippi DUI school, suspension of driver's license, fines, and prison term. Any DUI conviction stays the offender's record to keep the court apprised of future violations and make the information available to anyone looking to know, e.g., employment background checks.
What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in Mississippi?
A first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor and has the lightest penalties. A first-time DUI offender would be facing:
- Fine ranging from $250 to $1000
- Prison term of up to 48 hours (Mississippi laws allow the court to replace prison term with attendance at a victim impact panel).
- DUI education course at Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP) ensures that the offender is not going through substance abuse.
- License suspension for 120 days. Upon completing MASEP, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety may reduce the suspension to 90 days. For commercial vehicle drivers, the duration of the suspension is about one to three years.
In addition, the court may cut down the period of license suspension to a minimum of 30 days if the offender agrees to submit to post-arrest chemical testing. And this applies under a situation where extending the license suspension would cause hardship on the offender - for instance, difficulty in taking children to school or driving to and from work. The offender must complete the MASEP program to get this unique benefit.
What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in Mississippi?
Within five years of committing the first, a second DUI offense attracts five days to a one-year prison term. Also, the offender is liable to pay a minimum fine of $600 and a maximum of $1,500, in addition to engaging in community service for at least ten days and not more than one year, and a one-year license suspension. Furthermore, the court may impound all vehicles belonging to the offender for the whole duration of the party's license suspension. However, suppose other drivers in the offender's household are reliant on the vehicle; in that case, the judge may require installing a breath-alcohol-ignition-interlock device in the place of impoundment.
The court may ask the offender to utilize a breath-alcohol-ignition-interlock device for one year after the reinstatement of the license. All persons with second DUI convictions must undergo an in-depth diagnostic evaluation. If the evaluation shows that the violator requires treatment, the party only gets a license restoration after one year of completing the therapy.
What Happens After a Third DUI in Mississippi?
A third or subsequent DUI in Mississippi within five years of the first offense is a felony, and the offender is subject to a prison term of one to five years and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000. The court also impounds the perpetrator's vehicle with a possibility of forfeiture. Furthermore, the offender gets a driver's license suspension for the entire period of the party's sentence. The violator must also install a breath-alcohol-ignition-interlock device for three years after reinstatement of the driver's license. The State of Mississippi also requires an in-depth diagnostic evaluation of an individual convicted of a third DUI. After the evaluation, the law enforcement authority may conclude that the DUI offender needs treatment. Therefore, the DUI offender may only have access to their driver's license upon successfully completing the treatment and sentence.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Mississippi?
A DUI conviction remains on the offender's driving record for five years in Mississippi. Nevertheless, additional DUI convictions within this period may prolong the duration. However, DUI sentences, regardless of if it is a first, second, or third offense, stay on the offender's criminal record for life. Fortunately, under MS Code § 63-11-30 (13), some DUI violators may qualify for expunction.
DUI Expungement in Mississippi
In Mississippi, a motorist convicted for a DUI offense may apply for a record expunction at the circuit court of conviction. However, Mississippi DUI expungement is a one-time privilege, and the applicant must fulfill several requirements. To be eligible for a DUI expunction, interested persons must:
- Apply five years after serving the penalties.
- Have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that did not exceed 0.16%
- Have taken a breathalyzer or blood test.
- Not having a commercial driver's license.
- Not have any other DUI convictions or unresolved DUI charges
- Have fulfilled all conditions of the sentence
MS Code §99-19-71 authorizes the redaction of criminal history records, and the process dictates that motorists may file a petition for expungement and then await the results of a review. After an assessment, if the judge finds the petitioner eligible for expungement, the judicial officer signs an expungement order as evidence of the complete expunction. If not, the judge sustains the records.
Redacting a DUI conviction offers motorists a variety of benefits. It helps these individuals secure employment as the conviction may not appear in background checks. Also, drivers may legally deny the DUI offense. Therefore, a DUI convict may decide not to give out information concerning an expunged conviction and apply for a job license and credential.
How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Mississippi?
It is unlikely for first-time DUI offenders to spend time in jail. The reason is, most judges often relax the penalties for first-time violators and opt for fine payment or license suspension instead. For the most part, following the provisions of MS Code § 63-11-30, drunk driving for the first time in Mississippi is punishable by:
- Fine payment in the range of $250 to $1,000.
- License suspension for a minimum of 90 days to a maximum of one year.
- Incarceration for a maximum of 48 hours.
But it does not go by the book all the time.
What is the Average Cost of DUI in Mississippi?
A DUI charge in Mississippi is expensive to resolve. It is a tradition for the law enforcement officer to tow the offender's vehicle upon an arrest. The standard fee for towing a vehicle is $200, and the defendant may pay an additional $50 in storage fees. Aside from this, a sizeable amount of money also goes into legal costs, which involve attorney fees and other court bills. However, these costs vary, and the price depends on the lawyer in context and the county where the offense was committed. Generally, defendants may pay $500 to $6,000 and even more if the case goes to trial. Also, court-ordered fines take a negative toll on the offender's finances.
As a consequence of driving under the influence and following the Implied Consent Law, defendants are to install an ignition interlock device calibrated to prevent the vehicle from functioning at a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.02% or 0.04%. The ignition interlock device is obtainable on lease for $2.50 a day, while the price may fluctuate depending on the required features and the length of use. DUI offenders may as well spend at least $2,200 per annum for installation.
DUI convictions also increase insurance premiums by 28% or more. This increment is particular to the service providers who are likely to spike the rates to cover the cost for the eventualities of driving under the influence and other unforeseen outcomes. In conclusion, from the discussed engagements, the cost for a DUI in Mississippi is in the range of $5000 to $15,000.
How Much is Bail for a DUI in Mississippi?
The cost of a bail bond in Mississippi is not constant but may cost up to $15,000. Under MS Code § 83-39-25, a professional bail agent may charge up to 10% of the amount for bail or $50 for every $1,000 bond except for capital offenses. Also, defendants may have to pay a $25 fee to the Sheriff's Department for processing.
In the event of an arrest for a DUI offense, sometimes the arresting officer may release the motorist immediately. Other times, considering the gravity of the offense, the officer may keep the offender for further prosecutions. In both scenarios, the defendant has the option to plead guilty or fight the charge. That said, the purpose of bail is to make sure the defendant appears in court once summoned and obeys court conditions. Hence, the court introduced bail to ensure that further prosecutions produce results.
How to Get My License Back After a DUI in Mississippi?
A license suspension is the temporary termination of a driver's privilege. In Mississippi, the duration of suspension may last between 30 to 90 days. Typically, the common reasons the Department of Public Safety may suspend a license are:
- Causing death, injury, or damage to property while driving
- A conviction for DUI
- Reckless driving
- Prior convictions for traffic offenses
- Refusal to take an alcohol test
The Department of Public Safety may revoke a license if the motorist:
- Commits vehicular homicide
- Accrues three convictions for reckless driving in the space of 12 months
- Fails to stop after a crash that may have caused death or injury
- Uses a vehicle to commit a felony
A DUI violator may lose the privilege to reinstate a revoked license, and the motorist may have to apply for a new license. However, as soon as the 30 to 90 days window elapses for a suspended license, the driver may pay the stipulated fees to regain the license. The cost to reinstate a suspended license in Mississippi differs as the Mississippi Driver Service Bureau (MDSB) regulates all license issuance and reinstatement fees. A DUI reinstatement costs $175, and the reinstatement fee catalog shows the cost for other types of reinstatement.
How Does a DUI Affect Your Life in Mississippi?
A DUI conviction may cause grave outcomes for a perpetrator in Mississippi. While some of the consequences could affect a person for several years, the others may be for a brief moment. First, a conviction could force the Department of Public Safety to hold the offender's driving privilege with the court mandating fines, community service, and jail time. The following are common consequences of a DUI conviction:
- Hindrance to gaining employment or renting an apartment as a result of background checks
- License revocation may impede an offender's social and work experience
- Automatic increase in insurance rates
- Inability to request financial assistance or loans
Can You Get Fired for a DUI in Mississippi?
Yes, a DUI conviction may make an employer sack an employee. However, this depends on the job, the severity of the crime, and other external factors. For example, a driver may get fired for a DUI conviction because it goes against the tenets of the profession. The same applies to teachers, healthcare workers, and personnel in other fields that require licensing or credentials.
In addition, a DUI may result in license revocation, which in turn equals the inability to move around. Therefore, a defendant may find it hard to appear at work, causing the employer to lay such a person off. For professions that do not prioritize credentials, the probability is low. Also, under the Mississippi "Ban the Box" act, employers may not request an employee's criminal record.
How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Mississippi?
Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Mississippi as long as the roadblock operates by the guidelines and ensures no discrimination occurs. Finding DUI checkpoints is a tasking endeavor because no schedule shows where and when roadblocks may be set up. Despite this, some road users make use of roadblock apps to detect sobriety points on highways. Also, looking through newspapers, the TV, and the Police Department may provide vital information.
Upon arrival at a checkpoint, a motorist must submit to questioning and a test. This activity checks for slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, fumbling with the keys, and the presence or smell of alcohol. If there is probable cause to believe that a driver is under the influence of a substance, a police officer may carry out a breathalyzer test, and an arrest may follow should the test show that the driver is guilty.
Which is Worse, DUI vs. DWI?
DWI is the short form for driving while intoxicated, while DUI stands for driving under the influence. These two refer to reckless driving behaviors, although DWI only provides for alcohol intoxication, while DUI covers the use of hard drugs, marijuana, and narcotics while driving. Hence, it is the accepted term in the state. Nevertheless, DWI or DUI is used simultaneously to categorize a drunk-driving crime properly, and the same punishments are often meted out.