If you’ve been charged with drunk driving in Southaven, MS or other parts of Desoto County, one of the issues you may be facing is the breath test reading. Everyone arrested for DUI in Mississippi will be asked to consent to a test of either their breath, blood or urine. In Southaven, the standard procedure is the breath test. If you refused the test, then that is less evidence the state has against you and that could be good. But if you took the test and failed (a reading of .08 or higher) then you’re legally presumed to be intoxicated and if you want to have a chance to win the case you must challenge that breath test reading.
One way is through the observation period. By law and by police procedure, you must be observed for a period of time before the test. This has to be done by law enforcement to make sure you aren’t smoking, vomiting, or putting anything in your mouth. Doing so could mess up the test results. Mississippi law requires a 15-minute observation period, but police guidelines and the breath machine manual state of 20-minute period. Courts typically go with the longer 20-minute period.
The observation time starts when you are arrested or are in the presence of a law enforcement officer. Unlike in some states, it doesn’t have to start when you’re brought to the station and sat down in the room to take the test. In Mississippi you can be arrested at the scene, placed in the back of the patrol car, then brought to the station for testing, and that whole time you were in route is part of the observation period.
Also, the officer doesn’t have to stare at you the whole time. Courts simply say that the defendant has to be “in the presence of” the officer. But there could be issues with whether you were properly observed, like if the officer is driving or filling out paperwork was his or her attention sufficiently given to you?
So an important issue is whether it was a full 20 minutes. And it has to be a continuous 20 minutes. It can’t be 10 minutes, then a short break, then another 10 minutes. It’s got to be 20 minutes start to finish.
The other issue is whether you were actually observed, or was the officer’s attention diverted at any point. Did the officer leave you alone for even just a minute or two? If the state can’t prove it was a proper observation procedure, that could be grounds to have the test results thrown out.
DUIs are complex and can turn on what seem like tiny pieces of information. You never know what you’ll find once you start digging into a case. For help with your drunk driving charge, contact Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall at (901) 205-9894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve just been arrested for driving under the influence in Southaven, MS, or one of the nearby courts like Horn Lake or Olive Branch, the next step is to go to court. As you are about to enter the legal system you probably have many questions and concerns, and hopefully this article will help you out.
There are basically two ways to approach your court date–with a lawyer or without one. Honestly if you’re going to go to court without a lawyer there’s not a lot I can do to help you. You are choosing to go down this road by yourself so good luck. For those that do have lawyers, on your first court date, and maybe subsequent ones, it may seem like not a whole lot is happening. Your lawyer will sign your court jacket, talk to the prosecutor about an offer of settlement, and probably reset the case to do some further investigation.
One of the most important issues in a Mississippi DUI case is the roadside video. If the police car that pulled you over is equipped with a video, it should begin taping as soon as the lights are activated. So there should be video and audio of you getting out of the car, speaking with and responding to the officer as he or she asks you questions, and performing roadside field sobriety tests.
The video will probably not be available on the first court date so your lawyer will have to request it from the state, meaning that your case will be reset. Additionally, more time will be needed if your lawyer is filing or going to file any motions. This could be motions to suppress the stop or the arrest, or to exclude the results of a breath or blood test. It just depends on the facts of your case. Point is, on a Southaven DUI matter, you won’t be pleading guilty or having any kind of long hearing on the first court date. You may not go in front of the judge at all. This is the time for your lawyer to be working behind the scenes, so to speak, gathering information and trying to get you the best deal possible.
Going to court on your DUI case for the first time can be scary. However, you put your self in a much better position if you have a Southaven DUI lawyer with you. Contact attorney Patrick Stegall for more information at (901) 205-9894 or email@example.com.
In order for a driver to be charged with this offense, there must be a child under the age of 16 while the driver is under the influence of alcohol or any other substance which has impaired the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. A first offense which does not result in serious injury or death of the child is a misdemeanor, and can carry a fine of either up to $1000 or up to 12 months in jail, or both.
A second offense which does not result in serious injury or death to the child carries a fine of between $1000-$5000, a year in jail, or both. A third offense which does not result in death or serious injury to the child is a felony with a fine of up to $10,000, 1-5 years in jail, or both.
A child endangerment charge in which the child suffered serious injury or death, regardless of it being a first, second or third offense, is a felony and is punished with a fine of at least $10,000 and jail time of five to 25 years.
DUI child endangerment charges in Mississippi are serious cases. If you’re facing one of these call Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall at (901) 205-9894 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A first offense DUI in Mississippi carries many penalties. If convicted, you’ll be fined no less than $250 and up to $1000, or sentenced to 48 hours in jail, or both. So the possible outcomes with that are either just a fine, just jail time, or both. It’s up to the judge following your trial or plea. If you plead guilty, the agreement will likely state which one it is so you know ahead of time what’s going to happen. Note: the judge can also substitute attendance at a victim impact panel for the 48 hours in jail.
You’ll also be ordered to attend an alcohol safety education program (called MASEP). Additionally the department of safety will suspend your driver’s license for a minimum of 90 days and until you’ve attended MASEP. You may be eligible for a hardship license which will reduce the suspension down to 30 days. To learn more, see my article on Mississippi hardship licenses.
These are the cut-and-dried punishments spelled out in the law, but there are more. I call them collateral consequences of a Mississippi DUI. They aren’t handed down by the court but they affect you nonetheless. A big one is higher insurance premiums. With a DUI conviction, your insurance company is going to raise your rates.
Another consequence is that the conviction may be on your record forever. I’ve written before about Mississippi DUI expungements, but those aren’t going to apply to everyone. If you are convicted and are not eligible for an expungement, it’s going to be on your record forever. It doesn’t just come off after five years like some people think. Being permanently convicted of drunk driving could keep you from getting jobs and could hurt your credit score.
Now that you know the penalties for a first offense DUI in Mississippi, you should seek out experienced legal representation. A good lawyer will work to get you lowest sentence possible or even a verdict of not guilty. Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall can help if you are facing this charge. Call him at (901)205-9894 or email him at email@example.com.