Mississippi DUI License Suspension
Mississippi, like all states, penalizes DUI offenders through a process of administrative driver’s license suspension. If you refuse to take a chemical test to determine your alcohol level, or if you are convicted of DUI, you lose your license for a period of time. For people facing a drunk driving charge, a Mississippi DUI lawyer can help.
Under Mississippi law, every driver has given “implied consent” for a chemical test to determine any substance (such as alcohol or drugs) which would impair his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle. The police must have “reasonable grounds and probable cause” to believe you are driving under the influence in order to ask you to take the test. If you refuse to take the test you must physically hand over your license. It, and a copy of the police officer’s sworn report, are forwarded to the Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety, who reviews the report to determine if the police had the necessary grounds to believe you were DUI. If they so determine, you are given notice that your license will be suspended 30 days from the date of such notice. The court can extend that period in order for you to have a trial on the criminal charge. This means that if your trial date goes past the 30 days they won’t suspend your license before you have the trial. For first-time offenders, the period of suspension is 90 days. For anyone with a prior DUI conviction, though, the period is 1 year.
Furthermore, if you take the test and if comes back .08% or higher, or .02% and higher for drivers under the age of 21, your license is seized and will be suspended by the same procedure as above.
If you wish to appeal the commission’s finding, you can file a petition in the circuit or county court having original jurisdiction of the charge. This petition must be filed within 10 days of the Commissioner’s decision. The appeal proceeds as a trial (without a jury) with the District Attorney representing the state. You will probably want to have your own lawyer as well. If you are planning on having a trial on the criminal charge, the suspension hearing can be a good opportunity to cross-examine the police officer.
Regardless of whether you appeal (or whether you win the appeal) your license will be suspended if you’re convicted of DUI. For a first-time offender that period is 90 days, and for second offenders within five years it is a two-year suspension. First offenders may apply for a hardship license after 30 days’ suspension. Note: second offenders and up cannot get a hardship license.
Mississippi’s DUI license suspension laws contain many complex procedures and penalties. If you have been charged with drunk driving in Mississippi and are worried about losing your license, contact Southaven DUI attorney Patrick Stegall today.