Will I go to jail?
That depends. First offenses carry up to 48 hours but rarely, if ever, will you serve any jail time. Second offenses have a 5 day minimum but some courts will work with you as to when you have to report to jail to minimize the impact on employment.
Will I lose my license or will it be suspended?
Your license will be suspended. Convictions do carry a driver's license suspension period, however you may be eligible to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle that will allow you to drive during the suspension period.
They took my license, will I get it back?
When arrested, all residents will have their Mississippi license confiscated and it will not be returned to you. You can obtain another hard copy of your license from your usual driver's license station upon the disposition of your case and the conclusion of any suspension period if applicable.
Out of state driver's licenses may be confiscated or may be returned to you. If confiscated, you may go to your home state's drivers license station and request a duplicate copy of your license so long as your home state does not make you swear that the reason you need another copy is because another state confiscated it due to a pending DUI.
What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device is similar to a breath test machine. The difference is that this particular breath test machine is attached to your vehicle and requires you to blow an alcohol free sample before it allows your car to start.
How much is this going to cost me?
The national average for the cost of a DUI is around $10,000. This average includes fines, court costs, attorney's fees, increased insurance premiums, bonds, and impound fees. While the circumstances of your particular case will determine the cost, most Mississippi DUI cases are less than the national average.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
While the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Mississippi allow you to defend yourself, it is always advisable to hire an attorney as all courts require you to know and follow all the same rules of evidence and court rules that attorneys must follow. Additionally, attorneys know what specifically to look for in each individual case and can provide you with an independent, objective opinion as to how to proceed in your case.
Am I entitled to a jury trial?
The Supreme Court has decided that you are only entitled to a jury trial if you face six months or more incarceration if convicted. The Mississippi legislature has recently made changes to the DUI laws so that you do not face more than six months incarceration if convicted until you reach a third offense DUI. Therefore, first and second offense DUI charges are bench trials only.
How will this impact my job?
Depending on your type of employment, the impacts can be severe. Pilots, commercial drivers, teachers, nurses, military, those who drive company vehicles and those with security clearances very likely will lose their job if convicted, and sometimes just from the arrest.
Unless you specifically have an employee manual or employment contract that requires you to tell your employer of an arrest for DUI, I advise all my clients to refrain from telling their employers. There is no reason to add any more complications unless completely necessary.
Do I have to take the tests offered by police?
In the State of Mississippi, the Portable Breath Test (PBT), the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and the chemical tests (breath, blood or urine) are all completely voluntary no matter what the officer may say to try and get you to take the tests. The only time you cannot refuse to submit to a chemical test is when the officer obtains a warrant for a blood draw.
Just be aware that there will be consequences for refusing to take the chemical tests. If you refuse the chemical tests, there is an additional driver's license suspension period that takes affect even without a disposition of the DUI criminal charge.
How will a DUI affect my out of state license?
While an arrest in Mississippi may be visible to your home state, typically your home state will do nothing unless they receive a notice of conviction from Mississippi. Mississippi does not have the authority to suspend your out of state license, they only have the authority to suspend your right to drive within the borders of Mississippi. If convicted of a DUI in Mississippi, your home state will be notified of the conviction and they may suspend your license but the length of the suspension will based on their law for suspending the driver's license after a conviction for DUI.
How long is a DUI conviction on my record?
Mississippi has a 5 year look back period for the purpose of enhancement. Should you receive more than one DUI in a 5 year period than the subsequent charges for DUI will be enhanced for increased penalties. A conviction stays on your record forever. Only people with 1 conviction for DUI with no other DUIs ever, can have their conviction expunged, so long as they had a blood alcohol content of less than 0.16% and it has been 5 years from the completion of all court imposed conditions.