Legal Considerations for Uncommon DUI Charges

Posted by James Ferguson | Jun 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

When the general public thinks of a DUI, they usually think of a drunk person operating a vehicle on a road. However, this is not always the case. In Mississippi and in many other states, DUI can consist of a drunk offender sitting in a parked car, it can consist of an offender who is boating under the influence of alcohol, and it can consist of an offender getting arrested for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. All these scenarios can result in a DUI charge if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The more informed about the Mississippi DUI laws a person, the more able he or she will be to defend his or her rights, with the help of a DUI lawyer, when confronted with DUI charges.

Parked Car DUI

According to the Mississippi DUI statute, it is illegal to operate a vehicle “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or other substances.” The definition of “operate” was a point of contention in the 1984 case of Jones v. State. In that case, police found the defendant slumped over in the driver's seat of a parked car. The keys were in the ignition and the engine was running. Even though the car was not in motion and it did not appear that the defendant intended to move the car, the police charged the defendant with a DUI. The court concluded that the DUI statute was properly interpreted because the defendant did not have to actually place the vehicle into motion in order to be ‘operating' it. Further, the charge was proper because the defendant was merely capable of moving the vehicle had he wanted to.

Boating Under the Influence

Under the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Act, it is illegal to operate a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Mississippi defines watercraft as 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 is moving 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. Like the DUI law, BUI law also requires a blood alcohol content for a charge to apply. The law, however, 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.”

Breathalyzer Refusal DUI

In Mississippi, as in many other states, law enforcement officers are required to seek consent before taking a chemical sample for testing from a suspected offender. If the subject refuses to take the test, the officer can give the person a “refusal charge” based on an implied consent law. The implied consent law says that any person who refuses a chemical test is subject to an automatic penalty without prior knowledge of any such law. This is because the subject has impliedly consented to the chemical test due to their agreement to drive on public streets. Notably, a refusal to perform field sobriety testing does not carry the “refusal charge.”

Let Us Help with Your DUI Case
If you have been charged with a non-traditional DUI offense, please call us now. Attorney James Robert Ferguson is a seasoned DUI attorney with experience working with all types of DUI charges. Contact us to determine your rights so that we can provide a unique approach to help you with your case.

See related blog posts:
Parked While Under the Influence
Open Container Laws and the Strange Case of Mississippi

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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