Mississippi DUI Law Explained


I have practiced law for a period of 50 years, and continuing. I taught the DUI law at the University of Mississippifor 29 straight years, while also practicing law. I have been municipal Prosecutor and municipal Judge for many, many years while still practicing law. I can tell you this: if you are in the gut-wrenching situation of being charged with a violation of theImplied Consent Act, more commonly known as a DUI violation, I very strongly suggest that you seek legal advice. You may contact me or another Attorney of your choice. I strongly suggest you seek an attorney that is knowledgeable about the offense of DUI.

Here is a brief examination of what can be expected upon being pulled over in this situation. When an individual is pulled over by a law-enforcement officer for the offense of exceeding the speed limit, the officer will approach the driver of the motor vehicle and generally makes this request; “Let me see your driver’s license and proof of insurance.” Of course, as we all know, both of these items should be immediately available to the driver of the motor vehicle. The officer will ask other questions, such as; where are you coming from, where are you going, did you know you were exceeding the speed limit, etc. Then, the law enforcement officer might ask, “Have you had anything to drink tonight?“ The driver will answer “no", or "I had a couple drinks earlier this evening", or the driver might be stupid enough to actually have in the car, in plain view, a cup of an alcoholic beverage. Please relay this one piece of advice to your student after reading this article: do not consume any amount of alcohol and then operate a motor vehicle!If the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence, they will ask the driver to please step out of the motor vehicle and go to the back of the car. The officer may produce a portable breath test such as the alcho sensor, and ask the driver to blow into it. The driver may refuse to take this test, but if the officer suspects the driver is under the influence, he may ask the driver to perform the following field sobriety tests: the HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMOUS TEST (HGN), the ONE-LEG STANDING TEST, and, the HEEL-TO-TOE WALK AND TURN TEST. The HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMOUS TEST (HGN) consists primarily of the officer using his finger or some other object and going from side to side with said object in front of face of said driver, looking for 3 things per eye: 1. Does the eye follow the finger or stylus correctly as it moves from side to side? 2. Does the eye quiver prior to 45-degree deviation (meaning the eye quivers but the driver cannot feel this quiver)? 3. At a full deviation does the eye have even more pronounced stigmas. This is a six-point test with each clue amounting to one point. The officer may ask the driver to perform the HEEL-TO-TOE WALK AND TURN TEST. This is an eight-point test. The individual is asked to stand in a certain way during the instructions and then a demonstration is given by the officer as to how to take the test. Then, at the command of the law enforcement officer, he or she will start taking the test. The driver has to walk heel to toe for a certain distance as so ordered by the officer and then make a certain kind of turn as so shown by the officer and then walk back to the point of beginning as shown by the officer. Finally, on the ONE-LEG STAND TEST, the driver stands on one foot, and raises the other foot about 6 inches off the ground. He proceeds after a demonstration and instructions from the law enforcement officer. Such as, "the test is to begin when I tell you to do so", "do not raise your arms from your body during this test”," do not leave your position such as hopping", and "stay in that position for the length of time”, as so ordered by the officer.

The officer takes all of the above field sobriety tests into consideration. Then the officer will note if the driver has any impairment in walking, has has glassy eyes, has the smell of alcohol on his or her breath and if the speech is in any way impaired. If the officer feels that probable cause exists that the driver of the motor vehicle is impaired by alcohol or any other substance, to the extent that the driver is not safe to operate the motor vehicle and determines that further investigation is necessary, the officer will transport the accused to the Lafayette CountyDetention Center (LCDC). The officer must wait a period of 20 min from the time of the first observance of the driver until the officer offers the CMI-8000 intoxylizer to the driver. The CMI-8000 intoxylizer is a sophisticated machine that determines the blood alcohol content of the driver. The officer will give the driver the opportunity to blow into the machine. There are two blows into the machine. The driver may refuse to take the test, but will be instructed by the officer, that if the driver refuses to take this test, the driver will suffer a 90-day suspension of his or her driver licenses if this is a first offense DUI, just for the refusal to take the test. If the driver is found guilty of the offense, their driver’s license will suspended for an additional 90 days. If the driver is facing a second DUI within 5 years, of the first DUI, and refuses to take the test at the Lafayette CountyDetention Center, the Driver is looking at a 1-year suspension of their driver’s license for the refusal to take the test, and if convicted, an additional 2 year suspension of the driver’s license, for a total of 3 years suspension of the driver’s license.

It should be noted, if you are convicted of a DUI third offense, meaning this is your third conviction for a DUI, in the last 5 years, the Driver is looking at a felony, that carries 1-5 years in prison, a 6-year period of their driver’s license suspended if they refuse to take the test, and a fine between $800.00 -$1,500.00 + costs. To really give this reader of the article something to think about, consider this: in addition to suspension of driver’s license, and large fines, for a DUI conviction, there is also incarceration. A first offense conviction for DUI carries 2 days in jail, and a second conviction for DUI within 5 years of the first conviction of DUI carries up to a year in jail (in justice court) and up to 6 months (in The municipal court). The results of a third conviction within 5 years of the first conviction for DUI carries 1-5 years in prison. A CONVICTION for DUI remains on your record for the rest of your life. A CONVICTION for DUI cannot ever be expunged from the records of law enforcement and the court. A CONVICTION for the offense of DUI can definitely affect insurance now and in the future, but more importantly, a CONVICTION for the offense of DUI can very much affect EMPLOYMENT. For a more thorough explanation of a DUI conviction, read here.

Lastly, I have a note for you parents: The criminal offense of a DUI is NOT one of those situations whereby you think of telling your student to “grow up and handle it themselves” –This is indeed a frightening criminal offense and they will need your help in obtaining legal assistance. Please call me or another legal professional knowledgeable of the DUI laws as soon as you learn that your child needs help.Dwight N. Ball, Attorney at Law. (662) 234-4777, dwightnball.com.


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