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.