Receiving a long jail sentence for a DUI offense is not a usual occurrence in DUI cases. There are various programmatic and adjudicatory alternatives that seek to rehabilitate offenders before jail time is necessary. The policy goal here is to treat driving under the influence as a behavior that is changeable; therefore, detention is not seen as an effective means of punishment. DUIs require longer jail time only when an offender is found guilty multiple times. At this point, the government will deem the multiple offender a danger to the public and will use jail time as a safety measure for the public. Below is an analysis of the DUI penalties in Mississippi and their implications.
First and Second Offenders
To gain a better understanding of how DUI sentencing works in Mississippi, it is important to understand that all penalties including jail time are statute-based. The penalties are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the number of prior offenses and the severity of the charge (i.e., whether the DUI offense led to human injury or property damage). Generally, it is a misdemeanor to receive a DUI conviction for the first time. All first time offenders have to pay a minimum of $250.00 through a maximum of $1,000.00. The fine amount is determined by court and may derive from any aggravating factors surrounding the DUI offense. A first offender is also subject to 48 hours of jail time. Whether jail time is given depends on the facts of the case. At his or her discretion, the judge can suspend jail time in exchange for a higher fine or another condition. The offender's driver's license is suspended for 120 days and they are required to attend the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program within six months of the court order.
A second offense is also a misdemeanor if the offender has only one prior conviction within five years. Here, the fines are steeper with a minimum of $600.00 and a maximum of $1,500.00. The offender faces five days to six months in detention. Unlike the first offense, the second time DUI offender must perform 10 to 180 days of community service. They also face a year's suspended license.
Third and Fourth Offenders
A Mississippi woman recently received her fourth DUI charge and faces up to five years in jail. A look at the penalties for third and fourth DUI offenders reveals how strongly DUIs are frowned upon in our society. This sentiment has caused the state legislature to pass stricter laws governing penalties for third and fourth time offenders. Both third and fourth DUI convictions are classified as felonies. The third offense carries a minimum fine of $2,000.00 and a maximum fine of $5,000.00. The fourth offense is as high as $10,000.00. Third offenders face up to five years in jail, while fourth offenders can expect a maximum 10-year jail term. Both third and fourth offenders must obtain ignition lock systems after incarceration.
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