Mississippi recognizes driving under the influence of alcohol as a chargeable offense for minors. Minors in Mississippi are defined as people who are under the age of 18 years. Unlike the adult DUI rule, minors can be convicted of a DUI with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02% to .08%. The BAC for adults is .08% or greater. The penalties for a minor who is convicted of DUI is a $250.00 fine and a 120-day license suspension. Like a first offender adult, the minor must complete an alcohol safety education program and may also attend a victim impact meeting. The subsequent offenses carry increased fines and longer license suspension periods or even alcohol addiction treatment. To better understand how these penalties are applied, it is best to understand the Mississippi juvenile court system.
Mississippi's Juvenile Court Structure
In Mississippi, the juvenile court charges are divided into three categories. The first category encompases those offenses that involve status. One example of a status offense is delinquency. The second type of charge in the Mississippi juvenile court system involves offenses that involve actions including disobedience of a parent or guardian or violating school rules. The third category involves criminal offenses, which are the most serious types of offense in the juvenile court system. DUI involving minors fall into this category. It is important to note that depending on the aggravating circumstances of the DUI offense, the penalty for the juvenile can range from life imprisonment to many years behind bars. A juvenile who is over the age of 13 years who is charged with such a crime can be tried in an adult criminal court.
Treatment of Minors With DUI Charges
However, there is still some leniency when it comes to the way charges are structured and how the defendants are treated in juvenile court. A minor with a DUI charge will have the case heard in a civil proceeding instead of a criminal proceeding. If convicted, the charge will most likely be expunged in the future. The judge presiding over the case has the authority to transfer the case to the adult criminal court depending on the circumstances of the charges. Unlike adult court proceedings, the youth court is closed to the public and it proceeds without a jury.
Penalty Structure in Juvenile Court
The Mississippi juvenile court system places an emphasis on rehabilitation instead of punishment. Accordingly, the penalties juvenile can face rarely include jail time. Because of the emphasis on rehabilitation, the judge presiding over the case has more discretion in sentencing the minor. The sentencing of the minor is also individualized to help the minor seek special services to ensure rehabilitation.
Let Us Help with Your DUI Case
If you have been charged with a DUI as a minor, please call us now. Attorney James Robert Ferguson is a seasoned DUI attorney with experience advising on juvenile-related DUI cases. Contact us to determine your rights in the matter.