A Closer Look at Mississippi’s First Offender DUI Law

Posted by James Ferguson | Mar 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Tragic Case of a DUI Fatality in Mississippi

On November 21, 2017, local news station WREG reported on a DUI case that occured in Horn Lake Mississippi in 2016. The story compels a close look at Mississippi's first offender DUI law and its legal as well as real-life implications.

On October 11, 2016, a 42-year-old man was struck and killed by a drunk driver in Horn Lake, Mississippi. The drunk driver was a 62-year-old woman who had acquired multiple charges for DUI over the years. Since 2008, the drunk driver has been arrested five times for DUI. In 2008, she was arrested for one DUI arrest in Hernando, Mississippi. A month later she received another arrest in Horn Lake. In 2011 and 2015, the drunk driver was arrested again in Horn Lake on two separate occasions. For the 2011 and 2015 charges, the drunk driver was found guilty for DUI as a first offender. Later in 2015, she was once again arrested for DUI. Once again, she was charged and convicted as a first offender. For this conviction, the drunk driver was given two days in jail. One day was credited as time served and the other one day was suspended. All together, before the fatality that occurred in 2016, this multiple offender had spent one day in jail.

Mississippi's First Offender DUI Law

Mississippi’s first offender DUI law focuses on rehabilitative methods rather than jail time. If you are arrested and convicted for a first offense DUI in Mississippi, it is a misdemeanor. The penalty is as follows:

$250.00 to $1,000.00 in fines,
Up to two days in jail,
Enrollment in Mississippi's Alcohol Education Program,
120 days of a suspended driver's license, and
Any other condition handed down by the judge.

Mississippi's first offender DUI law is not only reserved for individuals who are arrested for DUI for the first time. On occasion, prosecutors agree to lessen a second DUI to a first offense. The agreement is usually negotiated in exchange of a guilty plea and other admissions. The lessening of a second DUI offense to a first offense also ensures that the offender is not charged as a felon. In Mississippi, a first offense only carries a misdemeanor. This legal practice is what led the drunk driver in Horn Lake to accrue multiple first offender convictions.

How this Law Affects First Offenders

One may argue that the lessening of a DUI charge in exchange of a guilty plea may not deter offenders that are prone to recidivism (i.e., repeating the offense). People who believe in the benefits of jail time as a deterrence would advocate against lessening DUI charges. At times, the state does not have enough evidence to get a guilty plea for a second offense. They may rely on a first offense as a final option. The news article maintains that the practice of allowing multiple first offenses bode well to both the defendant and the prosecutor as the case is not dismissed and the offender faces some form of consequences. Is Mississippi's First Offender DUI law an advantage or a disadvantage?

Your DUI Attorney

Mississippi attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney who is ready to defend you. He understands the complexities of Mississippi DUI laws and he will guide you through the process in a diligent manner. Contact us for a consultation today.

See related blog posts:
Are Sobriety Check Points Legal in Mississippi?
Supreme Court: No DUI Blood Draws Without a Warrant or Consent

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.

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