DUI Fines and the Eighth Amendment

Posted by James Ferguson | Jun 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Prohibition Against Excessive Fines

The Eighth Amendment is the constitutional prohibition against excessive bail, fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. The amendment is better known when it is mentioned in discussions to do with the death penalty and issues surrounding lengthy jail sentences. Any penalty that is deemed to be excessive, cruel, and unusual will run afoul of the Eighth Amendment, and the aggrieved party has the right to challenge that action in a court of law. The excessive fines clause is usually not the main provision discussed with respect to the Eighth Amendment. However, in states where convicted individuals face fines, the amount of fines issued against the offender can be deemed a violation of the Eighth amendment.

DUI Fines in Mississippi

In Mississippi, all offenders convicted of DUI are subject to state-sanctioned fines. A first DUI offense in Mississippi carries a fine of $250 to $1,000. A second DUI offense and conviction carries a fine of $600 to 1,500. A third DUI offense carries a fine of $2,000 to $5,000 and a fourth offense carries a fine of 3,000 to 10,000. It is important to note that these fines exclude court costs and the exact amount that is requested within each range is at the discretion of the judge who is presiding over the respective case. In addition, the more egregious the crime, the more fines issued. If a DUI conviction involves an accident, then the fines will be in line with the circumstances. If the DUI involves injury to a third party, then the fine will be issued in accordance to that.

Recent Supreme Court Case on Excessive Fines

Some may wonder how a federal amendment becomes applicable in state courts. That question was recently taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Timbs v. Indiana. In that case, the Court sought to determine whether the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause has been incorporated against the states under the 14th Amendment. As background, the 14th Amendment incorporates certain federal laws and makes them applicable to local and state governments. In Timbs, the Court held that, indeed, the Eighth Amendment excessive fines clause is incorporated and applicable to the states. Given this clear holding, any convicted individual who believes that fines are unduly harsh can invoke the Eighth Amendment to seek redress.

Let Us Help with Your DUI Case
If you believe you have received an excessive fine for a DUI conviction, please call us now. Attorney James Robert Ferguson is a seasoned DUI attorney with experience working with post-offense administrative actions. Contact us to determine your rights in the matter. We will provide a unique approach to help you with your case.

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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