When people think about DUI, they usually think about driving under the influence of alcohol. They seldom think about driving under the influence of other prohibited drugs like marijuana, cocaine, or methamphetamines. Alcohol inebriation is easily identifiable when drivers have difficulty staying in their lanes or demonstrate instability of their motor movements. On the other hand, drivers who are under the influence of other controlled substances present varying side effects depending on the amount consumed. For example, research studies have concluded that negative effects of marijuana on drivers can include increased lane weaving, poor reaction time, and altered attention to the road. The mal-effects are heightened when marijuana is combined with alcohol. A study of college students charged with DUIs concluded that marijuana is the most common drug used, followed by cocaine and prescription pain relievers. No matter the consumed drug, police officers have authority under Mississippi law to charge drivers with a DUI.
Mississippi Law on Drugged Driving
In Mississippi, a person is guilty of a DUI if he or she drives while under the influence of a substance that impairs his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle, or while under the influence of a drug which is unlawful to possess under the Mississippi Controlled Substances statute. As such, the same law that applies to drunk driving includes a clause that addresses drugged driving. Due to the law of implied consent, all operators of motor vehicles on public highways and roads have functionally consented to breath and chemical testing. Although blood alcohol testing devices may not prove as reliable for testing other drugs, the presence of drug residue, scents, or drug paraphernalia may render a good case in court for driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Because Mississippi treats drug DUI the same as alcohol DUI, the offense carries similar penalties:
- First Offense: Misdemeanor, fine of $250-$1000, up to 2 days in jail, substance education course, 120 suspended license
- Second Offense: Misdemeanor, fine of $600-$1500, 5 days to 6 months in jail, community service, up to 1 year suspended license
- See link for full summary of Mississippi's DUI penalties
Possible Possession Charges
Another consideration in the realm of drugged driving is the possible charge of drug possession or distribution that may attach to the DUI offense. Depending on the amount a driver has in his or her possession, that driver is subject to severe drug penalties, which can extend jail time and increase bonds. The larger the amount of drugs in the driver's possession, the more likely the offense can extend to a distribution charge that carries a felony classification.
Your DUI Defense Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson can answer all of your DUI-related questions. He is a seasoned defense attorney with years of experience fighting drug and alcohol DUI cases. He understands that the stakes are high and the importance of putting the DUI charge behind you. That is why he provides aggressive legal representation for individuals just like you. Call us now for a consultation.