Mississippi OUI/DUI Laws, Fines & Penalties Explained

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A Mississippi driver with a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction faces severe penalties, including fines, jail, substance abuse counseling, probation and license suspension or revocation. Known in some states as a DWI, for driving while intoxicated, a DUI stays on the offender's record for five years and may complicate that person's ability to work, find a residence or get a bank loan.

Definition of DUI Laws in Mississippi

Mississippi Code Section 63-11-30 states that anyone who drives, or is otherwise in physical control of, a vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination of both is in violation of the law. The state uses the terms operating under the influence (OUI) or driving under the influence (DUI) to describe the drunk driving violation. No matter which term it uses, law enforcement measures impairment by observing obvious intoxication or by chemical testing of breath, blood or urine samples. A DUI charge occurs if:

  • Alcohol or another substance hinders a driver's ability to drive or physically control a vehicle.
  • An adult driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
  • A commercial driver's license (CDL) holder has a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher.
  • A minor driver under 21 has a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.

A vehicle does not have to be in motion for a DUI charge to occur; the impaired person only has to have the intent to drive. For example, if they are asleep in the driver's seat while holding the keys, law enforcement can charge them with DUI.

First-Offense DUI and Penalties

According to the National College of DUI Defense, a first-offense DUI in the state of Mississippi is a misdemeanor. A convicted driver faces:

  • $250 to $1,000 fine, plus state and court fees.
  • Maximum two days in jail or attendance at a victim impact panel.
  • Attendance at the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP). The driver must complete this 12-hour program within six months of sentencing. Non-Mississippi drivers can attend an equivalent program in their home state.
  • Maximum two years of supervised probation, per discretion of the court.

Drivers with a standard Class R driver's license will see a suspension of driving privileges for 120 days. In lieu of this suspension, a driver can have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle and must pay all fees for it. They must also pay fees for an IID restricted driver's license.

Non-adjudication and First-Offense DUI

In October 2014, Mississippi allowed first-time DUI offenders into its non-adjudication program, which lets them avoid jail time and a criminal record, provided they meet specific conditions, according to the Vollor Law Firm. Eligibility requirements are:

  • The charge must be their first DUI offense; a driver with two or more DUIs cannot participate.
  • The driver has no previous involvement in the program.
  • The driver did not refuse a chemical test at the time of arrest.

In court, the driver will enter a guilty plea, and the court holds that plea and determines the conditions the driver must meet for non-adjudication. Once the driver meets those conditions, the court formally enters the order.

When a driver has met the requirements of the non-adjudication program, they can request an expunction of their DUI record after five years. However, they must fulfill these penalties first:

  • Payment of first-offense fines, plus fee of $250 for non-adjudication program.
  • Completion of substance abuse education classes within six months of conviction.
  • Installation of an IID for 120 days, followed by proof from the manufacturer that they completed the requirements of the installation and had no violations during that time.

Drivers who cannot obtain non-adjudication status may still see their DUI expunged by the court if they did not refuse a chemical test.

Second-Offense DUI and Penalties

If a driver has a prior DUI conviction within five years of a current impairment charge, they face a misdemeanor conviction for their second offense. This charge carries these penalties:

  • $600 to $1,500 fine, plus state and court fees.
  • Five days to six months in jail.
  • Community service for 10 days to six months.
  • Substance abuse assessment followed by treatment in a Mississippi Department of Mental Health certified program.

Drivers with a standard driver's license will see a suspension of one year and must have an IID installed in their vehicle and pay all fees for it. They must also pay fees for an IID restricted driver's license. An offender who does not have an IID faces impoundment or immobilization of their vehicle.

Third-Offense DUI and Penalties

If a driver has two prior DUIs within five years of a current impairment charge, they face a felony conviction for their third offense. This charge carries these penalties:

  • $2,000 to $5,000 fine, plus state and court fees.
  • One to five years in prison.
  • Substance abuse assessment followed by treatment in a Mississippi Department of Mental Health certified program.

Drivers with a standard driver's license will see a suspension of three years. They must have an IID installed in their vehicle and pay all fees for it, including for an IID restricted driver's license. An offender who does not have an IID faces impoundment or immobilization of their vehicle.

Fourth and Subsequent DUI Penalties

A fourth-offense DUI is a felony. It has a lifetime look-back period, which means that all prior convictions count toward it, no matter when they occurred. Conviction carries these penalties:

  • $3,000 to $10,000 fine, plus state and court fees.
  • Two to 10 years in prison.
  • Substance abuse assessment followed by treatment in a Mississippi Department of Mental Health certified program.

Drivers with a standard driver's license will see a suspension that lasts the length of their sentence. After prison release, the offender is eligible for an IID after 10 years or after their 10-year license suspension ends. An offender who does not have an IID faces impoundment or immobilization of their vehicle.

Aggravating Factors and DUI Laws

Aggravating factors, such as grave injury or death, can turn any DUI from a misdemeanor into a felony. Mississippi bases penalties on the number of counts (persons injured or killed) in this instance; drivers face five to 25 years in prison per count. The court also requires IID installation if the driver is in a probationary period or on probation, or in post-release supervision for a maximum of five years.

An impaired adult driver who has a passenger under 16 in their motor vehicle faces a child endangerment charge, which is separate from a DUI. Penalties are:

  • First offense without grave injury or death to the passenger: Maximum $1,000 fine and maximum one year in jail.
  • Second offense without grave injury or death to the passenger: $1,000 to $5,000 fine and a mandatory jail sentence of one year.
  • Third offense without grave injury or death to the passenger: Minimum $10,000 fine and one to five years in prison.
  • DUI resulting in grave injury or death to the passenger: Minimum $10,000 fine and five to 25 years in prison.

Minor Drivers and Mississippi DUI

A driver under 21 who has a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher faces DUI charges. However, if a minor has a BAC of at least 0.08 percent, the state treats them as an adult offender. First-conviction penalties for a DUI with a BAC of between 0.02 and 0.08 percent are:

  • $250 fine, plus state and court fees.
  • Attendance at a victim impact panel.
  • Attendance at MASEP. The driver must complete this 12-hour program within six months of sentencing; non-Mississippi drivers can attend an equivalent program in their home state.
  • Maximum two years of supervised probation per discretion of the court.
  • Driver's license suspension of 120 days.

The state bases second- and third-offense convictions on a look-back period of five years with these penalties:

  • Second DUI offense: $500 fine, plus state and court fees; maximum two years of supervised probation per the court's discretion; driver's license suspension of one year.
  • Third DUI offense: Maximum $1,000 fine, plus state and court fees; substance abuse assessment followed by treatment in a Mississippi Department of Mental Health certified program; driver's license suspension of two years.

For second and third OUIs, minor drivers must have an IID installed in their vehicle and pay all fees for the device and for an IID restricted driver's license. An offender who does not have an IID faces impoundment or immobilization of their vehicle.

DUI for Commercial Vehicle Drivers

Drivers who hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) in Mississippi face not only harsh penalties for DUI convictions, but also the loss of their livelihood for several years or a lifetime if they are repeat offenders. The BAC limit for a driver holding this type of license is 0.04 percent or greater; this limit applies to drivers no matter what kind of vehicle they operate.

CDL license holders face the penalties that come with standard DUIs with additional suspension sentences.

  • First-offense DUI while operating any vehicle: License suspension of one year; if the driver transports hazardous materials, a suspension of three years.
  • Second-offense DUI while operating any vehicle: Lifetime license suspension.
  • Drivers who refuse a breath test or chemical test face a one-year suspension for the first refusal and a lifetime suspension for two or more violations.

There is no reduction of a CDL driver's suspension period, per federal regulations.

Implied Consent in Mississippi

According to NOLO, during a DUI traffic stop, law enforcement will often ask a driver to take a chemical test of blood, breath or urine to determine the level of substances in their system. The prosecution uses the results as evidence of impairment in court. Any driver who gets behind the wheel in Mississippi automatically gives their consent to chemical testing, so a refusal to take a breathalyzer test is a violation of the state's implied consent law and carries penalties on top of those for the DUI arrest itself.

Drivers who refuse chemical testing face immediate seizure of their license. Law enforcement certifies the refusal and sends it to the Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety, who suspends the driver's license for 90 days for the first refusal or one year for multiple refusals. This suspension is in addition to those of standard DUI penalties. The driver can request IID installation and restricted license while the case is ongoing and can challenge the refusal within 10 days of the suspension notice.