Is that Legal? Three Seldom-Known Acts That May Constitute DUI Offenses

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

The legal definition of DUI is pretty simple. In Mississippi, the law prohibits operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%. This DUI law is normally associated with the driving of a private vehicle after consuming alcohol. However, there are other forms of DUI that are criminal by law, but does not fit neatly in the traditional definition of the crime. Other forms of DUI can occur on water, while others do not require that the motor vehicle be set into motion at all.

Parked Car DUI

A parked car DUI offense occurs when a defendant is found legally intoxicated while behind the wheel of a motionless or parked vehicle. The situations that can lead to this type of charge presents complexities in certain jurisdictions where the difference between a DUI charge hinges on whether the key was in the ignition. Although state laws vary as to whether it is a crime to be intoxicated while behind the wheel of a parked vehicle, the law in many states, including Mississippi is clear. Mississippi law views the parked car DUI as chargeable offense.

Boating Under the Influence

Under the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Act, it is prohibited to operate a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Mississippi, a watercraft is a “motorized vessel with a motor of 25 horsepower or greater used for transportation on public waters.” It further defines “public waters” to mean “all public waters over which the state has jurisdiction.” If a watercraft in underway on public waters it is said to be in operation and the person who has set the watercraft underway is subject to inspection by local police and other water-stationed law enforcement officials. BUI law also requires a blood alcohol content for a charge to apply. The law also permits law enforcement to assess the behavior of the boater. A person is guilty of boating under the influence if there is “impaired thought and action and loss of normal control of a person's faculties to such an extent as to endanger any person.”

Open Container

Open container laws are state-based laws that prohibit the presence of an open container of alcohol in an individual's car without regard to whether the individual is consuming it. In 1998, the federal government passed an act incentivizing states to pass such laws. Around 39 states, including the District of Columbia, have compliant laws prohibiting the presence of open alcohol containers in cars. A few remaining states (Wyoming, Louisiana, Tennessee and Alaska) have open container prohibitions that are not compliant with the federal program. Unlike all other states in the U.S., Mississippi is the only state without an affirmative prohibition against possessing open alcohol containers in a vehicle. Although Mississippi as a state does not have an affirmative prohibition, certain counties and cities within the state do prohibit it. This legal structure makes for a complex patchwork of laws when it comes to the open container scenario.

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Attorney James Robert Ferguson is a seasoned DUI attorney with experience working with lesser-known DUI crimes. Contact us to determine the implications of your DUI charge. We will provide a unique approach to help you with your matter.

See related blog posts:
Restricted and Hardship Licenses in Mississippi
Does Your Employer Care About Your DUI Conviction?

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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