Mississippi DUI Lawyers
Law enforcement personnel working in the various departments across Oxford and Lafayette County, Mississippi, are on the lookout for intoxicated drivers. In their enthusiasm to keep the roads safe from impaired drivers, some police officers overstep their boundaries. While the intentions of the law and those who enforce it may be good, being arrested and convicted of driving under the influence can have a devastating impact.
If you’ve been accused of DUI in Oxford or the surrounding area, a good DUI lawyer can challenge your arrest or help limit your consequences. At Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie, we have years of experience fiercely protecting the rights and freedom of our clients. This is not something you can or should leave to chance. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.
What is Considered a DUI in Mississippi?
In the state of Mississippi, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle if you are drunk or high. If you are over the age of 21, your blood alcohol content (BAC) must not reach 0.08 or higher. If you are under the age of 21, the legal limit is just 0.02 percent. Anyone who has a commercial driver’s license, even if they are driving a personal vehicle, is subject to a legal limit of 0.04 percent.
Penalties for a DUI in Mississippi
The penalties for a DUI conviction in Mississippi can be stiff. You can face costly fines, jail time, community service, the loss of your driving privileges, and mandatory attendance at drug and alcohol programs. If you are convicted, the penalties for a DUI (adult non-commercial driver) in Mississippi include:
- Fines up to $1,000 plus court costs
- Up to 48 hours in jail
- Driver’s license suspension up to one year
- Alcohol safety and education program
Second Offense (within five years)
- Fines up to $1,500 plus court costs
- Up to one year in jail
- 10 days to one year of community service
- Driver’s license suspension up to two years
- Vehicle immobilization or impoundment for license suspension term
- Fines up to $5,000 plus court costs
- Up to five years in prison
- Driver’s license suspension up to five years
- Vehicle seizure and the sale of your vehicle
- A felony conviction, making it difficult to own a firearm, vote, get a loan, or obtain employment.
There are always increased penalties for DUIs that involve aggravating circumstances. For example, if a DUI resulted in a fatality, the penalty is a prison sentence ranging from five to 25 years.
If you are a student at the University of Mississippi, you could face additional consequences for a DUI arrest or conviction, including expulsion. The personal and societal repercussions can impact your life as well. You may have increased insurance premiums, social stigma, and limited career options because of a DUI conviction. If you’ve been arrested, it’s a good idea to consult with a trusted criminal defense attorney.
The Roadside and Chemical Test
Law enforcement officers must have probable cause, meaning a legitimate reason, to stop your vehicle, such as speeding, erratic driving, or no headlights. At the stop, an officer can ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. These are subjective at best, and you are under no obligation to agree to them.
Once you are arrested for DUI and taken to the police station, the authorities will ask you to take a chemical test. If you refuse to take the test, your driving privileges could be automatically suspended for a period of 90 days to one year. If this is your situation, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney immediately about your options.
Suspension of Your License After a DUI
In many cases, your driver’s license will be suspended after an arrest for DUI in Mississippi. Your defense attorney may be able to prevent the DMV from revoking your license if you act quickly. An administrative license hearing will be set just days after your arrest to determine if your license will get suspended. This is separate from your DUI case, and our firm can represent your interests at this hearing.
Potential Defenses for a Mississippi DUI Case
With years of experience defending DUI cases in Mississippi, we can tell you that no case is hopeless. There are potential defenses against even the most compelling evidence. Every case is unique, but some of the defenses we may be able to argue on your behalf include:
Lack of probable cause – With the exception of roadblocks and DUI checkpoints, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause to pull you over. If none existed, any other evidence they obtained after the stop could be ruled inadmissible.
Violation of your rights – If you make a statement to the police, it can’t be used as evidence against you if they failed to read you your Miranda rights.
Other explanations – There might be other explanations for your behavior or appearance, such as a medical condition.
Faulty testing – A police officer may not have been properly trained on the use of a breathalyzer machine, or the machine might have been poorly maintained.
First-Time DUI Offenses in Mississippi
While the ideal outcome is to have your DUI charges dismissed, this may not be possible in every case. If you are a first-time offender, your attorney may be able to help reduce your consequences.
The courts can withhold adjudication in certain cases as long as the accused completes certain requirements. Mississippi’s non-adjudication program acts as a diversion program, allowing first-time DUI offenders to avoid a conviction. To be eligible for non-adjudication, defendants are not allowed to have any prior non-adjudications on the record, and they must not have any prior convictions or DUI charges pending.
Beyond keeping a DUI conviction off of your record, Mississippi law also has ways to get a charge expunged from your record, provided you meet the eligibility requirements.
Contact an Experienced Oxford, MS DUI Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Lafayette County, the longer you wait to speak with an attorney, the more you put your case at risk. At Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie, we use proven strategies to defend our clients against DUI and related charges. We will protect your rights in court and, if you are a student at the University of Mississippi, we can represent your interests in front of a University Judicial Council hearing.
Anyone facing a DUI charge in Lafayette County, MS, should not do it alone. You need knowledgeable and skilled legal counsel on your side. Call our office today at (662) 200-8730 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.