In both Mississippi and across the United States, minors are subject to stricter laws with regard to alcohol consumption and DUI. While of-age adults may receive more stringent punishment, minors are subject to stricter blood alcohol thresholds. This means that only a relatively low amount of alcohol need be in a minor's system (0.02%) for a legal presumption of intoxication.
Miss. Code 63-11-30(3) establishes zero tolerance for minors, meaning it is illegal for minors to have any amount of alcohol in their system while they are behind the wheel, and will face penalties for doing so. This will apply to minors who are found driving with a BAC between .02 and .08 and who complied with requests for blood and breath tests. Minors with a blood alcohol content above .08 or those who do not comply with chemical testing, will be sentenced as adults in Mississippi.
Penalties for Minor DUI in Mississippi
A minor convicted of DUI under Mississippi's zero tolerance laws will face a $250 fine and see their license suspended for 90 days. First-time offenders are eligible for a hardship license, which would allow them to commute for reasons related to work, school or medical care. They would also be required to complete an alcohol safety awareness program in order to be eligible.
If the minor had a BAC over .08 or refused chemical testing, he will be sentenced in accordance with normal Mississippi DUI laws, meaning the punishment will vary depending on the severity and circumstances of the crime. For example, if the minor's DUI resulted in the death or serious injury of another individual, they face up to 25 years in prison (at the absolute maximum). With repeat offenses, penalties will increase in severity.
Can A Minor DUI in Mississippi Be Fought?
The short answer is yes. There are several ways to defend against a DUI conviction. Some of those ways include challenging the evidence (e.g., sobriety field tests, breath tests, and blood tests) or proving constitutional violations (e.g., improper traffic stop, unwarranted search and seizure, no Miranda rights warning). In some instances, where constitutional violations occurred, evidence can be suppressed and the case can be dismissed before it goes to trial.
Other times, a case can be resolved before trial if a plea deal is entered. Although the penalties for minors tried under the zero tolerance laws are not exceptionally harsh, the minor may benefit from pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
In the event the minor is facing adult penalties, there is a great deal more at stake, punctuating the need for expert legal representation.
Perhaps the most critical factor in the outcome of a Mississippi Minor DUI case is the decision whether or not to hire an attorney. A skilled Mississippi DUI attorney is the minor's best chance of seeing his or her charge reduced or dismissed. The attorney will be able to evaluate the nature of the charges, scrutinize the state's evidence, and determine whether any of the minor's rights were violated in the course of the arrest and criminal proceedings. Many make the mistake of thinking an arrest is a one-way ticket to a conviction. It is not. DUI attorneys are adept at poking gaping holes in the arguments and evidence of the prosecution, or securing favorable plea deals in which the minor would see less stringent punishment.
Can A Minor DUI Be Expunged in Mississippi?
Yes, but they must file for an expungement and meet all required conditions. In addition, there is a five-year waiting period. A DUI conviction can have particularly grave consequences for minors for this reason. Budding careers and educational pursuits (scholarships, college applications) could be easily stymied by the discovery of DUI on that minor's record.
This is why it is so critical that you fight the DUI with vigor at the outset of the charge, not treat it with complacency and attempt to get it expunged later. The minor will be dealing with the consequences of a convicted DUI for some time after the fact, unless they hire an aggressive Mississippi DUI attorney to fight the charges from the beginning.
Mississippi DUI Attorney
William Wayne Housley is an experienced DUI lawyer with extensive knowledge of Mississippi law. He is devoted to defending his clients against criminal charges with integrity and resolve. If your child is the minor in question facing DUI charges, William Housley understands the fear and uncertainty that accompany criminal charges, especially when they have been leveled against your child and threaten his or her future. For a free consultation, please contact William Housley online or by phone at 662-844-5635.