You went out with your buddies on a Friday night to celebrate getting a raise at work. The bar was playing great music and you stayed longer than you thought you would and drank more than you thought you would too. Then, on the way home, you saw those flashing lights. Before you knew it, you were being stopped for drunk driving.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, you need to know what to do. In Mississippi, anyone who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OUI). If officers stop you, they most likely saw that you were swerving through different lanes or driving too slowly or ran a stop sign. They most likely will ask you if you’ve been drinking and you can refuse to answer.
Field sobriety and breathalyzer tests
Still, if the officer believes you are drunk, he or she might want to conduct a field sobriety test and ask you to take a breathalyzer test. Mississippi, along with all other states, has implied consent laws. This means that as part of obtaining your driver’s license, in the fine print you agreed to perform field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer test. You can refuse to do these, but that itself is a violation of law, which carries its own consequences even if you aren’t convicted of DUI.
Arrested and booked
If you do take the breathalyzer test and measure a .08 BAC, you most likely will be arrested and taken to jail. After you are booked, you may be released immediately or held until someone can pay your bail and takes you home.
As part of your arrest, you will be given a summons to appear in court. Because a first-time DUI conviction can lead you to losing your driver’s license for 90 days, increase your insurance rates and end up on your criminal record, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to help you before your court appearance. You may be able to get your charges reduced or thrown out if the breathalyzer wasn’t working correctly or in other circumstances.
An attorney also can review what other options you can take to lessen the impact of a DUI conviction. This includes allowing the installation of an ignition interlock device to avoid a license suspension. An ignition interlock device will require you to pass a breathalyzer each time before operating your vehicle.
If you are convicted of DUI, you will be required to complete the Mississippi Safety Education Program (MASEP) and pay a fine of at least $250.
Any subsequent DUI conviction will carry harsher penalties, so it’s always better to avoid drinking and driving entirely and not end up facing jail time or a longer license suspension.