Being pulled over by the police can be an intimidating situation no matter the circumstance, but being pulled over while under the influence can be nothing short of mortifying. A driver's mind may race as he wonders if he will be arrested, lose the legal ability to drive, and be forced to pay substantial fines and/or spend time in jail.
During the initial traffic stop, if probable cause leads an officer to believe you were driving while under the influence -- meaning that your blood alcohol content was above .08% -- you will likely be arrested. At that point, the law requires you submit to a breath, blood, or urine test in order to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). Many drivers refuse to comply out of fear of what the results will be. What happens then?
Oftentimes, a driver that is worried that his or her BAC is above .08% will refuse to test, thinking that a lack of data means the prosecutor won't have any evidence to use. However, it is possible to be found guilty of a DUI even without test results. For example, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that the refusal was an admission of guilt, although there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.
If you refuse to submit to a BAC test following a DUI arrest in Tupelo, Mississippi, you can be fined a minimum of $250 and lose your driver's license by way of a suspension, the length of which varies upon the number of previous offenses.
For example, if this is your first DUI arrest, the suspension based upon your refusal to test will be at least 90 days and up to 1 year. If it is your second offense, the suspension will last one year. However, it is possible that the suspension could be avoided altogether if a skilled attorney is able to contest the suspension within the requisite timeframe.
The act of contesting a suspension must be completed within 10 days of receiving a state-issued letter regarding the suspension of your driving privileges. Failure to file an appeal within this ten-day window means that the suspension of your license stands and you are not able to file an appeal.
Assuming that an appeal is timely filed, a hearing will take place before a judge in the county to which the arrest took place. At the hearing, the judge takes into account all of the evidence the prosecution has to offer against you as well as the evidence that you are able to furnish that shows you were not intoxicated at the time you were pulled over by the police or that proper procedures were not followed by the arresting officer. Usually, the arresting officer provides testimony to the court about what was observed during the traffic stop and your arrest. If you wish to provide testimony, you are permitted to do so.
After all of the evidence and testimony is presented to the judge, a determination is made as to whether or not the police had probable cause to arrest you and if proper procedures were followed during the actual arrest. If the judge agrees with the prosecution in that probable cause was present and the proper procedures were followed by the arresting officer(s), the suspension of your license stands.
However, if the judge finds a flaw in the prosecution's case, the suspension of your driving privileges can be revoked and you regain permission to drive a vehicle. However, a win at the refusal hearing may only be temporary as it is not an overall win to your DUI case. Because the charge continues to stand, your case will later move to trial unless a plea agreement is struck.
Hiring Legal Counsel
If you face a suspended drivers license in connection with refusing to take a breath, blood, or urine test in relation to a DUI arrest in Tupelo, Mississippi, do not wait to hire skilled legal representation. Time is of the essence when it comes to filing a timely appeal to the suspension and waiting too long could mean that you lose your driving privileges for up to one year. William Housley is highly regarded in the Tupelo, Mississippi area and is here to provide you with a quality defense to your DUI charge. Contact him today either online or at 622-844-5635 to discuss your case.