Ten Common DUI Questions
Q: What is D.U.I. and drunk driving?
A: DUI is an abbreviation for “driving under the influence.” A person is guilty of the offense if such person is driving in actual physical control of the vehicle within the state and the person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical or controlled substances set forth under the applicable statutes when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired or when the person has a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. “Drunk driving” is a common misnomer for the crime of driving under the influence. While all individuals who drive while drunk can be arrested for DUI, you do not need to be drunk to be considered under the influence.
Q: What does “in actual physical control of the vehicle” mean?
A: This term means that the individual has had the capability and power to dominate, direct or regulate the vehicle, regardless of whether or not he or she was exercising that capability or power of the time of the alleged offense. In other words, sit behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition may qualify as being “in actual physical control” of a vehicle even though the vehicle is not moving.
Q: Are you presumed guilty if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08%?
A: In any criminal case, it is unconstitutional to hold presumption of guilt against the defendant. This is due to the fact that our Constitution requires the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the fact that the defendant had 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood is prima facie evidence that the defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired.
Q: Is it also unlawful to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher?
A: Yes. It is a crime to drive with an unlawful blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or above.
Q: May I refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test if requested to submit to one by a law enforcement officer?
A: By accepting the privileges extended by the laws of the state of operating a motor vehicle, you are deemed to have given your consent to submit to an approved chemical or physical test of your breath for the purposes of determining the alcoholic content of your blood, and to a urine test for the purpose of detecting the presence of drugs, if lawfully arrested for any offense allegedly committed while driving nor in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances. However, you may refuse to take such tests unless you are involved in accident involving serious bodily injury or death to a human being. The law permits the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend your privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 90 days for a first refusal, or a period of 1 year for a second or subsequent refusal. Additionally, the refusal to submit to a chemical or physical breath test, or to a urine test, upon the request for law enforcement officer, is admissible in any criminal proceeding against you.
Q: Isn't it true that the police will take away your license if you're arrested for a DUI?
A: Under Mississippi law, a law enforcement officer who determines that a person is driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or above may seize the driver's license of said person. Also, were said driver is a minor and his blood-alcohol level is above 0.02% then the law enforcement officer may seize the driver's license. Where the officer has probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence and the driver refuses a blood, breath or urine test, the officer may seize the driver's license. The officer forward said license to the Commissioner of Public Safety. The receipt given shall be valid as a permit to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 30 days. This, of course, does not include DUI refusals.
Q: If the officer takes away my driver's license, for how long is it suspended?
A: If you ever refuse to submit to a lawful breath, blood or urine test, your driving privileges will be suspended for a period of 90 days for first refusal, or for a period of one year if your driving privilege has been previously suspended as a result of a refusal to submit to such a test.
Q: How can the law permits suspension of the driver's license before any kind of trial begins? I thought criminal law are quite a hearing or trial before they could send it to?
A: While the criminal punishment under Mississippi laws provides for certain safeguards before an individual may be senates, we must remember that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Because it is a privilege, the state of Mississippi may withdraw that privilege if it has lawful grounds to do so.
Q: Is jail mandatory if I'm convicted of a DUI?
A: No. Not for the first conviction. However, for a second conviction within five years of a prior conviction, and minimum imprisonment term of five days as required. For a third conviction within five years of a prior conviction, it is considered a felony in the term of imprisonment is between one year and five years.
Q: What is the best way to avoid getting a DUI?
A: Have a designated driver, call a cab, or walk; we encourage our clients to anticipate driving needs in advance.