How Exactly is a DUI Defined Under Mississippi State Law?
Mississippi, DUI laws are defined in a couple of different ways. One type of DUI is a common law DUI, which means that the officer thinks that a person is impaired and operating a motor vehicle on the highways of the state of Mississippi. It is under these circumstances that field sobriety tests come into play. There is also a statutory version of DUI, which comes into play when someone is deemed impaired due to having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above. At that point, field sobriety tests do not matter because the person will have already been deemed legally intoxicated. In such a situation, a Mississippi DUI defense attorney is imperative to save you from the severe consequences of the court of law.
What Happens after Someone is Pulled Over on Suspicion of DUI in Mississippi?
In most cases, a person will be stopped by an officer for a minor traffic infraction or because they have reached a DUI checkpoint. The officer will approach the vehicle and request to see the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer will almost always claim that they smell the odor of an intoxicating beverage emanating from the driver or vehicle, which will give them reasonable suspicion. The officer will then ask the driver whether or not they have been drinking, and many people will answer honestly by saying that they have had one or two drinks. Once someone admits this, the officer will have the probable cause they need to continue the stop for DUI.
At that point, the officer will ask the driver to take the portable breath test (PBT), which will give them further information but will not be admissible in court due to the fact that these devices do not undergo required calibrations. If the portable breath test results in a really low alcohol value, then the officer may ask the driver to take field sobriety tests. If the portable breath test results in a zero value for alcohol, then the officer may suspect that the driver is impaired by a different substance, such as marijuana.
An individual is not required to consent to field sobriety tests. In fact, a refusal doesn’t occur until someone refuses to blow into the Intoxilyzer, which is a large DUI machine located in a vehicle or at a police station. Once an individual blows into the Intoxilyzer, it will print a very detailed readout. This machine is calibrated and certified by the Mississippi crime lab, and the officer who operates it must be certified to do so. If the machine shows a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, then the driver will be charged with a DUI.
What Happens if I Refuse a Breath or a Blood Test in Mississippi?
If someone refuses a breath or blood test in Mississippi, they will lose their license for 90 days as the result of an administrative suspension. A letter will be mailed to the address listed on the individual’s driver’s license, and they will have ten days from the date of the letter to file a petition to review the breath test refusal in the county court. If the county does not have a court, then they will have to file it in circuit court, and a hearing will be held in order to determine whether or not someone actually refused the Breathalyzer test.
If someone has a commercial driver’s license and they refuse to take a breath or blood test in Mississippi, then they will face a one-year suspension, which can be a career-ending consequence. If someone has a regular license, then they might be able to get a restricted interlock license that will require them to blow into a portable Breathalyzer installed in their vehicle. The device prompts the driver to blow into it before starting the vehicle and periodically while the vehicle is moving. Once the administrative period has passed, the individual would be able to have their license reinstated & the device removed.