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DUI Laws in Mississippi

A complete review of DUI laws in Mississippi and the penalties you may face … plus, how going to rehab can help.

9
minute read

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Have you recently been charged with a DUI? You’re not alone. This article reviews laws, penalties, and legal procedures for DUI in Mississippi…and how going to rehab can help.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

DUI Definition

Been charged with a DUI in Mississippi? The fact is that 1.2% of Mississippi’s adult population admits to driving after drinking too much. [1] So what is a DUI in Mississippi?

According to 63-11-30 MS Code of 1972, a DUI is operation of vehicle while under influence of intoxication liquor or other substances impairing your ability to operate a vehicle. [2]

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Police determine whether you’re driving under the influence or not through your blood alcohol content, your BAC. The national legal BAC limit is 0.08% if you’re 21 or older. If you’re under 21, you’re not allowed to have a BAC of more than 0.02% in Mississippi. When these limits are broken, you will automatically be charged with a DUI.

DUI vs. DWI

In some states, the terms DUI and DWI are used for different traffic violations. A DUI is an abbreviation for “driving under the influence” while a DWI means “driving while intoxicated”. [3] Some states will refer to a DUI solely when alcohol is present while a DWI is charged when someone drives under the influence of drugs. So, is there a difference between the two terms? Is there a legal distinction?

No, not in Mississippi.

In Mississippi, there is no difference between DUI or DWI. Bother terms can refer to either alcohol or drug-related traffic violations. However, the term DUI is much more common.

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In Mississippi, the terms are interchangeable. You may also run into the abbreviation OUI which means “operating under the influence”. This is the same as a DUI or DWI, but much more rare.

Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Mississippi. These are highly visible locations where police will briefly stop a vehicle in order to determine whether or not the driver is impaired. Police make this determination through a breathalyzer test

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If you’re in an area where drinking is expected, such as Jackson or Tupelo, during a time of the week when people go out to drink, you might run into a sobriety checkpoint. Safety Checkpoints and Patrol Saturations are typically on the roadways during holidays, and during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Blitz campaigns, such as “Click It or Ticket”.

If a sobriety checkpoint test reveals your BAC at over 0.08% or you refuse to take a breathalyzer test altogether, you will be arrested on the spot and charged accordingly.

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In most situations, the police should issue you a receipt for your driver’s license. That receipt serves as a Temporary Permit to Drive. This permit is valid for a period of 30 days.

Legal Process

After an initial arrest and charge for DUI in Mississippi, you need to contact the court and request a trial date and an extension of this driving permit. If you do not contact the court within 30 days and obtain court order extending your temporary permit, your driving privilege shall be suspended for a period of 90 days.

From there, you’ll be given a court date where actions will be taken against you. These consequences vary according to a person’s circumstance. The most common penalties are as follows:

  • Completion of DUI school
  • Delay in driver’s license
  • Fine
  • Jail time

Any court convictions will be placed on your record. The purpose of this is to inform the court again if you break the law in the future and to inform anyone who may want to know, such as employers running employee background checks. Depending on your situation, there are ways to get this information expunged or sealed (see below).

Misdemeanor or Felony

Upon receiving your first DUI, you’ll most likely only be charged with a misdemeanor. The state of Mississippi’s goal is to make sure you don’t drink and drive again in the future. Therefore, disciplines taken against you won’t be too harsh and, rather, set in place for your own educational benefit. [4] These include:

  • Community service
  • Counseling
  • DUI school called MASEP, or Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program

However, if you continue to receive DUI charges, you might find yourself with a felony. Third or subsequent DUIs are charged as felonies in Mississippi. Furthermore, if you hurt or killed someone in an accident due to your DUI, you’re likely to face felony charges. In fact, under MISS. CODE ANN. § 97-3-25 et seq., you’ll immediately be charged with vehicular manslaughter if someone was killed in an accident due to your DUI. [5] This will result in a felony with the following penalties:

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  • 1 year in county jail
  • 2 to 20 years in the penitentiary
  • Minimum of $500 in fines.

1st DUI

Upon receiving your first DUI in Mississippi, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and penalties if you’re 21 or over [6] These include:

  • A fine between $250 and $1,000.
  • Financial responsibility SR 22 filed for three years.
  • Ignition interlock device, an IID.
  • Jail time of up to 48 hours.
  • License suspension of up to 90 days with a hardship request fee of $50.
  • Mississippi Alcohol Safety and Educational Program, MASEP.

If you’re under 21, you’ll receive the following administrative penalties:

  • A fine of $250.
  • License suspension for 90 days.

2nd DUI

If you make a second DUI offense in Mississippi within 5 years of your first, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and the following penalties if you’re 21 or over:

  • A fine between $600 and $1,000.
  • Community service between 10 days to 1 year.
  • Financial responsibility SR 22 filed for three years.
  • Ignition interlock device, an IID.
  • Jail time between 1 to 5 years.
  • License suspension of up to 2 years with a reinstatement fee of $175.
  • Potential forfeiture of your vehicle.

If you’re under 21, you’ll receive the following administrative penalties:

  • A fine of $500.
  • License suspension for 1 year.

3rd DUI

If you make a third DUI offense within 5 years of your last, you’ll be charged with a felony and the following penalties if you’re 21 or over:

  • A fine between $2,000 and $5,000.
  • Financial responsibility SR 22 filed for three years.
  • Forfeiture of your vehicle.
  • Ignition interlock device, an IID.
  • License suspension of up to 5 years with a reinstatement fee of $175.
  • Prison time between 1 to 5 years.

If you’re under 21, you’ll receive the following administrative penalties:

  • A fine of $1,000.
  • License suspension until you’re 21 years old or for 2 years, whichever is longer.

Jail Time

From the data above, you can see there’s a good chance you’ll receive jail time for a DUI, especially if you continue to receive these charges. You might find yourself with prison time rather than jail time if the charges against you are of a higher degree.The following are the most likely reasons you’ll receive jail time for a DUI:

  • Someone was hurt due to your DUI.
  • You refuse a sobriety checkpoint testing.
  • You enter a plea bargain.

If you’ve only been convicted of your first offense, jail sentences remain relatively low. It should be noted, you’re given a 5-year window in Mississippi where your penalties will rise if you’re charged with a DUI again. Furthermore, you can expect increased jail time sentencing for DUI if you:

  • Have a BAC of over 0.15%.
  • Had a minor in the car.
  • Was driving well over the speed limit.

If you’re worried about jail time and want a clear sense of how much you risk, it’s best to speak to a lawyer. The reason the above-listed jail times have such a wide window is for the sake of the judge’s determination on your punishment. Often, the amount of jail time one faces is highly determined by their situation. Therefore, talking to a DUI lawyer will give you the best sense of YOUR situation.

Classes and DUI School

DUI school and classes in Mississippi is officially known as the Mississippi Alcohol Safety and Educational Program, or MASEP for short. To find a MASEP location near you, you can check out their Locations Map online. [7]

The program was developed under the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the Mississippi Safety Patrol, and the Mississippi Department of Health. The goal is to offer people education on the dangers of drinking and driving in hopes they’ll learn from their mistakes. They also offer resources for treatment for those with alcohol dependence.

Classes are typically spanned out over a four-week session, meeting once a week, totaling in at 12 hours of class time. This could be more if the court orders it. The cost to attend is $200 and must be paid in full before the first session. After completing the program, you’ll have to pay the $175 reinstatement fee for your driver’s license.

 

Statute of Limitations

Within Mississippi, from the date of your DUI arrest, the district attorney has two years to file charges for a misdemeanor. The statute of limitations mentioned is primarily for first-time offenses and WILL DIFFER for second or third-time offenses. [8] The law may also differ for a felony considering the circumstances.

This law states that you’re free of prosecution if state prosecutors don’t file a criminal charge within the given time limits. This is because eyewitness accounts weaken with time. Still, even if you’re free from prosecution, your DUI will stay on your record for at least 5 years. In some cases, DUIs are held on record for an unspecified period of time.

Expungement

Mississippi only allows DUI expungement for first-time offenders who’ve been charged with a misdemeanor. If the charge is a felony, it’s impossible. Minors will find themselves with some leeway, but will have a difficult time finding an expungement, but have a better chance than those over 21 [9]. It should be noted that almost any first-time offender can get their DUI charges expunged if:

  • They don’t commit another crime.
  • They prove good behavior.
  • They show they’ve been rehabilitated.

In order to receive the expungement, you must complete the sentences given to you by a court of law, whether it be jail time or probation. Furthermore, you must petition the court of your conviction. When you do this, the judge will review your petition and decide whether or not you’re eligible for an expungement.

Most people seek out expungement for future employment background checks. If you’re looking for work and your potential employer does a criminal background check, a DUI is not going to be attractive. Granted, your DUI will be erased from your record within a 5-year period…but sometimes an expungement can help clear that record faster.

DUI Lawyer Costs

You’re going to want to really consider whether or not you need a lawyer when facing a DUI in Mississippi. The truth of the matter is that they’re expensive and you’re already going to have to pay so much for the penalties the court gives you. Most people only seek out a DUI lawyer when harsh consequences are certain to be taken against them.

The average price for a Mississippian DUI lawyer on your first-offense case is around $1,900. This can be a great investment if it looks as though you’re going to owing upwards of $10,000. A lawyer can bring these numbers down to $3,000. Furthermore, some lawyers will even take your case for as low as $500.

However, it might just be beneficial to talk the consequences and learn from your mistake. When you consider the cost of DUI school, your raised insurance rate, and the court fees, it becomes clear a DUI lawyer will only add more of a financial burden upon you.Take the time to discuss the matter with loved ones and you can get a better opinion on your particular circumstances.

Is Rehab an Option?

Inpatient rehab for a drug or alcohol problem is always an option. Even if you must face the consequences, you can still seek out help to better your life. Additionally, if penalties are looking high, you can also seek help from a drug court [10].

In Mississippi, the goal of drug courts is to:

  1. Reduce recidivism.
  2. Reduce substance abuse.
  3. Rehabilitate.

In order to qualify for a drug court, you must only be charged with a misdemeanor and clearly have the goal of receiving treatment. For more information on drug courts, you can go to the web page of the State of Mississippi’s Judiciary. [11]

Your Questions

If you have any further questions pertaining to DUI laws in the state of Mississippi, we invite you to ask them below. If you have any further information on DUI laws in Mississippi, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Mississippi
[2] Mississippi DPS: DUI Department
[3] NHTSA: Drunk Driving
[4] MASEP, or Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program
[5] Justia US Law: 2013 Mississippi Code – Chapter 3
[6] DMV.org: DUI & DWI in Mississippi
[7] MASEP: Our Locations
[8] RAINN Criminal Statutes of Limitations Mississippi
[9] The Papillon Foundation: Mississippi Adult Criminal Record Forms – Convictions and Other Disposition
[10] Mississippi State Court:Mississippi Drug Court Rules
[11] State of Mississippi Judiciary: Drug Court
Miss. Code Ann. § 63-11-30 MISSISSIPPI CODE of 1972
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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