DUI Defense

DUI Defense

DUI Laws in Mississippi Summary

If you are arrested in Mississippi for driving under the influence (DUI) and you refuse a breath, blood or urine test, you basically have two cases. First there is the criminal case where a DUI conviction can result in fines, jail time, mandatory alcohol education programs, and more. The other case is the administrative hearing where the Department of Public Safety attempts to suspend your license for refusing the blood, breath or urine test.

Coxwell & Associates can answer any questions that you or someone you care about has about a DUI charge. You can contact Coxwell & Associates by calling 601-948-1600. Our lawyers have handled countless DUI cases over the years and have acquired valuable experience that can help you with your DUI defense.

Please visit our DUI for the Business Man page for additional information.

DUI: The Basics

In Mississippi, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or while having a blood alcohol level of .08% or more. If you are under 21, having a blood alcohol level of .02% or more is considered illegal. The legal limit is .04% for those driving commercial vehicles.

If someone is arrested in Mississippi and has a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater, their driver's license will be seized. You receive a temporary driving permit pending your DUI trial and this temporary license may be extended by requesting an extension through the court to allow you to drive until your court date.

Breath Test Refusal Hearing

If you are charged with DUI in Mississippi and you refused to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, the Department of Public Safety will attempt to suspend your license or privilege to drive for 90 days to one year. This suspension will occur PRIOR to any criminal trial for DUI (in most cases) and will be automatically entered against you unless you appeal the suspension within 10 calendar days of the post mark of the letter of intent to suspend. Filing an appeal does not postpone the suspension.

The temporary license you receive when you refuse a test is valid for only forty five days from the date of the arrest. This temporary license cannot be renewed or extended for any period of time. The test refusal hearing is conducted by the County Court Judge or a Circuit Court Judge (in those Counties which do not have County Court judges) in the county of your arrest. There will not be a jury and the judge will announce the decision at the end of the hearing. The burden is on the state to prove that you were operating your vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages (or other substances) and that you refused to submit to a valid blood, breath or urine test. The burden of proof is not as great as in a criminal trial ("beyond a reasonable doubt").

Instead, the State has to prove their case by a "preponderance of the evidence," which means "more likely than not." The State is required to show, among other things, that the officer had "probable cause" to stop your vehicle. Many DUI refusal cases have been won where the officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle. The hearing is required to determine if you will be able to retain your driving privileges until the end of your DUI case. This hearing offers a great opportunity to cross-examine the officer under oath about the facts of your case. Since this is a civil hearing, you are entitled to conduct discovery – take the officer's deposition and propound questions to the officer which he has to answer under oath. This will further help you prepare for your case.

DUI Trial

Your first DUI trial will take place in either a Justice Court or Municipal Court. These courts do not have court reporters so Coxwell & Associates will retain court reporters to take down all the testimony.

DUI Defense
Merrida Coxwell in trial

This is important if you are convicted and have to appeal. If you are found guilty in the Justice or Municipal Court, you can appeal that conviction to County Court (or Circuit Court in those counties which have no County Courts) where you will get a trial de novo, meaning that you are entitled to have a "new trial" on the merits of your case.

Appeals must be filed within 30 days of your conviction in Justice or Municipal Court. If you are convicted in County Court, you are entitled to file an appeal to the Circuit Court, but you may only submit briefs. Live testimony is not allowed. Thereafter, appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court or Court of Appeals are only permitted if you raise constitutional issues.

DUI Penalties

Criminal penalties in Mississippi DUI cases are very serious. DUI convictions are maintained on your criminal record for 5 years, meaning that previous DUI offenses can be used to trigger enhanced punishment within five years of your first offense.

Third-offense DUI cases (meaning 3 offenses committed within 5 years) are treated as felonies in Mississippi. A person can also face vehicle impoundment and forfeiture of his vehicle.

DUI for Minors (Under 21)

First offense DUI:

  • Applies if test results are between .02% -.08% Breath Alcohol Concentration
  • If you refuse the test, you are treated like an adult first offense
  • $250 Fine
  • Victim Impact
  • Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP)
  • Ninety days license suspension
  • Thirty days if no breath test
  • DUI may be non-adjudicated at court's discretion

Second offense DUI:

  • $500.00 Fine
  • License suspended one year (reduction to six months after certified alcohol/drug program)

Third offense DUI:

  • Up to $1,000.00 fine
  • License suspension for two years or until age 21 (whichever is longer)
  • Completion of certified alcohol/drug program

DUI for Adult (Over 21)

First offense DUI :

  • $250-$1,000 fine and court costs
  • Jail time 48 hours
  • One year license suspension
  • MASEP & Victim Impact

Second offense DUI within 5 years:

  • Fine range of $600-$1,500 and court costs
  • Jail time 5 days to one year, community service of 10 days to one year
  • Two years license suspension
  • Vehicle impounded or immobilized for term of license suspension

Third offense DUI:

  • Fine range of $2,000-$5,000
  • One to five years imprisonment
  • Driver’s license suspended for five years
  • Vehicle seized and sold with proceeds to the state
  • Felony conviction - loss of civil rights (cannot vote or own a handgun)
  • DUI resulting in death or disfigurement - Any person who is DUI and in a negligent manner causes the death of another or mutilates, disfigures, permanently disables or destroys the tongue, eye, lip, nose or any other limb, organ or member of another faces imprisonment in state penitentiary for a period of time of not less than five years and not to exceed twenty five years.

License Reinstatement

  • Must attend MASEP (Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program)
  • Proof of insurance. SR-22 filed for three years
  • Must show proof of payment of fines and completed jail time
  • Must pay reinstatement fee of $100 Hardship License (available only to first time offenders who take the Intoxilyzer Test). Only available for the following purposes:

    • Continue employment
    • Continue attending school or an educational institution
    • Obtain necessary medical care
    • License must be suspended for a minimum of 30 days before Hardship License can be granted

Refusal Penalties 63-11-23

  • 1st Refusal - Suspension of license for 90 days
  • 2nd Refusal - Suspension of license for 1 year
  • 3rd Refusal - Suspension of license for 1 year
  • Suspension is in addition to any suspension for a DUI conviction and is consecutive to any other suspension period

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Jackson or anywhere in Mississippi, please contact the DUI defense attorneys at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC today to schedule your confidential consultation.

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