Mississippi’s DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

The consequences of a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI in Mississippi.

Like all states, Mississippi prohibits driving while under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. However, each state defines and punishes the offense a little differently.

This article outlines how Mississippi defines DUI and the possible penalties an offender might face for a DUI arrest or conviction.

Mississippi's DUI Laws

Mississippi's DUI laws forbid any person from driving or operating a vehicle:

In other words, a DUI conviction can be based on BAC or actual impairment.

What It Means to be "Driving" or "Operating" a Vehicle Under Mississippi's DUI Laws

Mississippi's DUI laws certainly cover actual driving. However, the state's DUI laws also make it illegal to "operate" a vehicle while under the influence.

Mississippi courts have defined "operate" to mean being in "full control" of a vehicle while sitting behind the wheel with the motor running. So, a driver can be convicted of a DUI in Mississippi even if the vehicle isn't actually moving.

What it Means to be "Under the Influence" in Mississippi

Mississippi defines "under the influence" as a state of impairment sufficient to lessen a person's normal ability for clarity and control. Effectively, to get a DUI conviction, the prosecutor has to present evidence that shows the driver was mentally or physically affected by drugs or alcohol.

Penalties for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI in Mississippi

Generally, a first or second Mississippi DUI conviction will be charged as a misdemeanor. A DUI will only be a second offense if it occurs within five years of the first conviction. A third or subsequent DUI within the driver's life is considered a felony.

Jail and Fines for Mississippi DUI Convictions

The chart below outlines the range of jail time and fines for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in Mississippi.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 48 hours

5 days to 6 months

1 to 5 years

Fines

$250 to $1,000

$600 to $1,500

$2,000 to $5,000

Mississippi DUI Probation

In lieu of extended jail time, judges will often place DUI offenders on probation. Generally, the offender must serve the minimum jail period prior to being released on probation. While on probation, offenders must comply with certain requirements. These can include treatment programs, community service, and victim impact panels. Failure to comply with probation conditions can result in additional jail time.

Substance Abuse Evaluations for Repeat Mississippi DUI Offenders

Judges will often refer DUI offenders to treatment or an education class as part of probation. For repeat offenders, a drug and alcohol evaluation is mandatory and the offender must follow the recommended treatment program.

Separate Charges for Having Minor Passengers

Driving under the influence with a passenger under 16 years old is considered child endangerment in Mississippi. As a separate charge, a conviction can carry up to $1,000 in fines and a maximum 12 months in jail.

Mississippi's Aggravated DUI Law

A DUI offense that results in serious injury or death is considered an "aggravated DUI." An aggravated DUI conviction generally carries five to 25 years in prison.

License-Related Penalties for Mississippi DUI Offenses

Impaired driving will typically lead to license-related penalties. These penalties vary depending on the number of prior DUI-related incidents as well as the driver's cooperation with testing.

License-related penalties can result from a DUI arrest and/or conviction.

Mississippi's Implied Consent Law

Mississippi's "implied consent" law generally requires all drivers who are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing when requested to do so by an officer. While a driver can refuse to test, the refusal can lead to more serious penalties than might otherwise result.

Refusing a Chemical Test in Mississippi

When a driver refuses to take a lawfully requested chemical test, the officer will seize the driver's license. After a 30-day appeal period, the driver's license will be suspended for 90 days. The suspension period will be one year if the driver has a prior DUI conviction. The suspension period for refusing a chemical test will be in addition to any conviction penalties.

Also, prosecutors can use the fact that a driver refused testing in court while trying to prove a DUI charge.

Failing a Chemical Test in Mississippi

If a driver submits to testing and produces a BAC that's at least .08%, the officer will seize the driver's license and issue a temporary driver's permit. This permit will be valid for 30 days or until the criminal charges are resolved. If the driver isn't convicted of the DUI charge, his or her license will be suspended for 90 days (one year with a prior DUI). If the driver is convicted, his or her license will be suspended as explained below.

License Suspension for DUI Convictions in Mississippi

All DUI convictions result in driver's license suspension. Every DUI conviction is reported to the Commissioner of Public Safety. The Commissioner will suspend the driver's license for:

  • 120 days for a first offense
  • one year for a second offense
  • three years for a third offense, and
  • ten years for a fourth offense.

Reducing a DUI Suspension and Applying for Reinstatement Following Revocation

At sentencing, the judge can order the offender to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on any operated vehicle and issue an interlock-restricted license. This restricted license allows the offender to operate a vehicle during the suspension period but only if equipped with an IID. Offenders who were impaired due to drugs or other substances may instead be subject to random drug testing by the court.

For felony DUI charges, the driver must maintain an IID for three years (ten years for a fourth or subsequent DUI) after completing the suspension period.

Mississippi's Underage Drinking and Driving Laws

In Mississippi, drivers who are under 21 years of age are prohibited from driving with a BAC of .02% or more. A conviction will carry the following penalties.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

License Suspension

120 days

1 year

2 years (or until 21 years old)

Fines

$250

$500

$1,000

Additionally, offenders must complete an alcohol safety program approved by the state. The court can also order attendance of a victim impact panel.

Mississippi's Non-Adjudication DUI Program

For a first-offense DUI, the driver may be eligible for a "non-adjudication" program. Under non-adjudication, the court will pause all proceedings and give the offender six months to complete certain requirements. If the driver successfully completes the program, the charges will be dismissed and not result in a criminal conviction. (However, a non-adjudication DUI can still be counted as a prior DUI if the driver is convicted of another DUI in the future.)

Talk with a Mississippi DUI/DUI Lawyer

Mississippi doesn't allow for DUI charges to be pled down or reduced. However, you might still have some decent options. You could be eligible for the non-adjudication program or have a good defense. If you've been arrested for driving while under the influence in Mississippi, you should get in contact with a qualified DUI attorney in your area.

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