The Mississippi DUI non-adjudication process is an excellent way for qualified individuals who have been charged with drunk driving to avoid a permanent conviction.  There are many steps involved and you have to meet specific criteria, so let’s take a look at how this law works.

Non-adjudication has been available in Mississippi for many years on criminal cases such as drug possession, fraud, theft and domestic assault.  DUI and other traffic offenses were specifically excluded from non-adjudication, but that has changed with new laws.  DUIs in Mississippi are now eligible to be non-adjudicated.

Non-adjudication is where you plead guilty to a charge but are not convicted.  Judgment is withheld, you go on probation for a period of time, then the charge gets dismissed and you can have it expunged from your record.

For drunk driving cases you have to qualify, which means you cannot have previously used non-adjudication or been convicted of a crime.  Also, non-adjudication is at the discretion of the judge.  This is where your attorney can advocate for you to make sure you are presented in the best light and considered for this special treatment.

Under non-adjudication you have to pay fines and court costs up front (typically around $1,000 in Desoto County courts), plead guilty, then go on probation for six months.  You have to complete Mississippi’s alcohol safety program and a attend victim impact panel.

After the successful completion of probation you go back to court and the charge gets dismissed.  You may then petition the court for expunction of the charge and arrest off your record.

Remember, not everyone qualifies for this program.  It’s best to start with a Mississippi DUI lawyer who will go to court with you and petition on your behalf to get you started.  Later, your attorney can prepare the necessary documents to have the matter expunged from your record.


For more information, contact Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall at 901-205-9894 or


A drunk driving charge is always serious, and it’s especially serious if you are a commercial driver and hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL).  A CDL holder who gets a DUI is looking at losing their job, period.  So it’s important to know all your options and to have a competent Mississippi DUI attorney on your side.

If a CDL holder is convicted of a DUI in Mississippi, he is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year.  That pretty much makes you unemployable as a commercial driver.  Understand also that the state’s burden is lower when it comes to CDLs.  They have to prove only that the driver’s alcohol concentration was .04, rather than the higher .08 for non-commercial drivers.

You’re also subject to implied consent laws as a commercial driver.  If you refuse a chemical test your license will be suspended for one year (compared to 90 days for non-CDLs).  You can request a hearing on the refusal, but you’ve only got 10 days from the date of notice provided by the Department of Public Safety.

Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than the rest of us, and those who are charged with driving under the influence face harsh penalties.  If you hold a CDL and have been arrested, contact Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall today.  He can be reached at (901) 205-9894 or

Previously I explained the procedure for a DUI trial in municipal courts in Mississippi, now I’m going to talk about what needs to be done before the trial.  This is the preparation time, and it’s the most important part.   This could be where the case is won or lost.

As a Mississippi DUI lawyer, there are going to be many things on my pre-trial checklist.  They can include:

  • Reviewing the arresting officer’s report.  I’m looking to see if any mistakes were made or if there were any inconsistencies that can be pointed out.  The officer is going to be seen as an authority figure in the eyes of the judge.  You’re going to have to break down that image and create some doubt.
  • Interviewing the officer.  Talk to him or her before the hearing.  You’ll know more about the case and you may get to use that as an opportunity to negotiate a better settlement.
  • Find out what you can about the officer, particularly regarding disciplinary write ups, a history of not following procedure, or similar cases that have been dismissed.  The arresting officer is the state’s chief, and often only witness.  The more information there is to use against them in cross examination, the better.
  • Watch the video (if there is one…some jurisdictions don’t equip their cars with cameras, or sometimes they don’t work).  The video can be crucial to evaluate the client’s behavior, attitude toward the officer, and performance on field sobriety tests.
  • Look at why the officer initiated the stop to see if it lacks probable cause.  No probable cause = grounds to have the arrest thrown out.  These aren’t easy to win but you never know what you’ll find when you start looking.

DUI trials must be prepared.  You can’t just show up and expect to know everything.  There’s a lot of information to gather and analyze, and the better job you do of that than your opponent, the better chance you give yourself of winning.  Patrick Stegall is a Horn Lake MS DUI attorney.  Contact him if you’ve been arrested.

If you’ve been charged with a dui offense in Horn Lake, Southaven, or other parts of Mississippi, your case is going to start in the municipal court.  Municipal courts are sort of the lower tier courts where all cases begin.  Misdemeanor cases, like most dui offenses, will be resolved here either through a negotiated plea or a trial.  Felony cases can have what’s called a preliminary hearing before moving up to the grand jury. If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, contact a Horn Lake dui attorney for help.

For a typical first or second offense misdemeanor dui case, your options at the municipal court level will be to either work out some kind of resolution (like a plea) or have a trial.  How do dui trials work in the municipal court?  Most importantly they are bench trials.  This means there’s no jury.  They are rather informal.  They’re done with everyone standing in front of the judge.  There’s no witness stand or court reporter either.  Municipal courts are courts of no record, meaning there is no one there (at least provided by the court) to take down what everyone’s saying.  You are free to record the hearing your self if you want, or to bring your own court reporter at your expense.

Since the state has the burden of proof, they go first.  The city prosecutor will probably first call the officer who pulled you over.  That officer will testify, then you (your lawyer) will get to cross examine him or her.  There’s probably going to be a dui officer also, the one who was called by the first officer to go to the scene are decide that you were driving impaired.  This officer may have administered field sobriety tests and conducted the breathalyzer.  This officer’s testimony will be crucial.

After the state has presented its proof, it’s your turn.  Usually defendants in dui cases don’t have witnesses, unless it was a passenger in the car with them or a medical expert.  It really depends on the case.  While you have the right, it’s usually not a good idea to testify for yourself.  What you’re trying to do with a dui trial is not prove that you were driving sober, but prevent the state from beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence.  They have a high burden, so make it difficult for them to carry it.

Municipal court dui trials can seem like simple affairs, but there’s a lot that goes into them, and the stakes are high.  In the next article I’ll talk about how to prepare for one of these hearings.  If you are looking for representation, contact Horn Lake MS DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall.

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

In Mississippi, to be convicted of DUI, the state must prove that you were “driving or operating” a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Understand that driving and operating are two different things.  When the state legislature wrote this law they weren’t just repeating themselves with these words.  They have different meanings and cover different situations.

Driving the vehicle is pretty straightforward and I think we all know what that means.  Operating the vehicle is not the same thing though.  If you’re sitting behind the wheel in full control, while the engine is running, then you’re operating the car under Mississippi DUI law.  A lot of it will depend on where you’re sitting in the car, whether it’s running, and where was the key.  Operating basically means that you must have been capable of moving the vehicle, regardless of whether you were actually causing it to move.

DUI cases can be fact-sensitive.  A lot can turn on little details.  For help with drunk driving charge, contact Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall at 901-205-9894 or

If you are charged with drunk driving in Mississippi you will be facing a suspension of your driver’s license.  Whether you refused to submit to a chemical test upon request by the police will determine what type of suspension.

There are basically two types of DUI license suspension in Mississippi: those where you took the breath or blood test, and those where you refused.  If you took the test and failed (.08% blood alcohol concentration) you’ll of course be charged with DUI, and your license will also be seized by the police.  You’ll be given a receipt which will serve as your license and will allow you to drive.  The receipt is valid for 30 days to allow your case to be heard, although it can be extended if it takes longer to have a trial.  If you’re convicted at trial, or you plead guilty, your license will be suspended 90 days although you can apply for a hardship license which reduces the suspension to days.

The second process if when you refuse the chemical test.  This is quite different.  In this case you’ll get a letter in the mail stating that because you refused your license is going to be suspended for 90 days, starting 30 days after the arrest (though the starting date could be later).  The letter will say that you have 10 days from receipt of the letter to request a hearing on your license suspension.

The hearing is different from the trial on your DUI charge.  The license hearing is purely administrative, and is just to determine whether the police had reasonable grounds and probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, that you refused the test, and that you were properly informed of the consequences.  It is not to determine guilt or innocence on the DUI.

So there are significant differences on your license when you take the test and when you refuse.  You can have administrative license hearings for either one, but only in the case of when you took the test can you postpone the hearing while the criminal case is going on.  Also if you refuse but beat the charge, you can still lose your license just on the refusal.

If you’re facing a drunk driving charge in Mississippi, contact Southaven DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall.  Mr. Stegall can advise on both the criminal and administrative aspects of your case.  Call him at (901) 205-9894 or by email

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

In Mississippi, there is the offense of child endangerment pursuant to DUI.  This is a separate offense from the underlying drunk driving charge, and carries its own set of punishment.

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

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

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