Mississippi DUIs in the Age of Coronavirus

Posted by James Ferguson | Apr 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

As coronavirus continues to spread in Mississippi, law enforcement officers and correctional facilities have been operating under limited interaction with respect to arrests and how the inmates are handled. On March 16th, advocates from the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, the ACLU of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Center for Justice sent a letter to Governor Reeves imploring him to scale back incarceration and detention activities. In addition, a few counties are issuing judicial orders to release certain inmates based on their perceived threat to the public as a mechanism to curb the spread of coronavirus in the jails. What does it mean for your DUI case if you are charged, jailed, or stopped by law enforcement?

Limited Arrests

Law enforcement patrol cars are now equipped with disinfectant wipes and sprays. And unlike months before, officers are given leeway as to whom they should prioritize for arrests. Specifically, the Ridgeland County police department is seeking to limit contact when they can, and they will avoid custody arrests where possible. However, they emphasize that they are still enforcing traffic laws. With this comes the treatment of DUI offenders where arrest is necessary to ensure public safety. For example, Madison County Police Department and Jail are no longer taking inmates on misdemeanor charges unless it is related to domestic abuse or DUI. It is important to note that most DUI offenders are first-time offenders who are subject to misdemeanor charges. Therefore, even though some counties have announced limited arrests, there is an overriding responsibility to ensure that DUI offenders are taken into custody where required.

Limited and Postponed Court Cases

Another result of the coronavirus pandemic is the limiting and postpoing of court cases to curb human interaction in courthouses. The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered the suspension of a criminal procedure rule that prohibited the use of interactive equipment for probation violation hearings and felony sentencing. On March 16, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered that individual judges had the discretion to postpone trials on their docket through May 15, 2020.

Certain Inmates Released

In certain states, inmates who are serving lighter sentences are seeking early release to ease overcrowding and the risk of virus spread. Further, coalitions of organizations who support prisoners rights are lobbying the correctional facilities in a number of states, including Mississippi, to consider the early release of vulnerable prisoners who do not pose a threat to the public. These efforts may very well impact individuals who are in jail for driving under the influence and those who do not have any prior violent crimes (including those who do not have a DUI charge with aggravating circumstances).

Let Us Help With Your DUI Case

If you have been charged with a DUI , please call us now. Attorney James Robert Ferguson is a seasoned DUI attorney with experience advising on DUI penalties and will inform you on the judicial process in light of the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us to determine your rights in the matter. We will provide a unique approach to help you with your case.

See related blog posts:
Non-Adjudication Statute in Mississippi
The A-Z of DUI Probation

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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