Where Do You Stand on the DUI Car Accident Penalties Scale?

Mississippi, like every other US state, takes the matter of driving under the influence (DUI) very seriously. A DUI conviction is a serious crime and there are strict laws and penalties in place to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel when they’re intoxicated. From license revocations and heavy fines to jail time, here are the relevant laws and a DUI car accident penalties scale so you know where you might stand.

Retired elder man driving a blue car

Remember: Before we start, you need to know that a DUI conviction is a serious offense, no matter how severe your penalty might be. If you get behind the wheel when you’re intoxicated, you’re risking your life and the lives of the people around you.

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Mississippi?

You’ll receive a DUI in Mississippi if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of:

  • At least 0.08 if you’re a non-commercial driver over the age of 21.
  • At least 0.04 if you’re a commercial driver (this includes bus drivers as well as 18 wheeler truck drivers).
  • At least 0.02 if you’re a non-commercial driver under the age of 21.

The Three Levels of DUI Car Accident Penalties

All of these penalties have serious implications, but there are three main levels – minor, moderate and severe. These mainly depend on whether you have previous charges. Click on any of the headings below if you want to be taken directly to the section:

  • First Time Offender
  • Second Offense Within Five Years
  • Third Offense or More Within Five Years

First Time Offender

If you’ve never had a previous DUI charge, you’re likely to face the following penalties. We’ve placed them on a scale of severity so you can see how serious they are.

Minor

  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for between 30 and 90 days (moderate penalty). If you want your license to be reinstated after this period, you need to have completed the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP). This is required for first time offenders and costs $200.
  • You’ll also need to pay $175, which is the license reinstatement fee.
  • A $250 to $1,000 fine (on top of all of the other fees).

Moderate

  • Your driver’s license being suspended for between 30 and 90 days.
  • An ignition interlock (which is a breathalyzer that prevents you from driving your car unless your BAC is below the legal limit) placed in your car while you have a restricted driver’s license. For first time offenders, this can be for 120 days after conviction, depending on the court’s ruling (license suspended for 30 days, plus 90 days with a restricted license).
  • Required to show financial responsibility (SR22) for three years. An SR22 is often required for drivers whose licenses have been suspended due to serious violations (such as a DUI charge) and will typically change your car insurance risk factor to high. This can make your insurance more expensive or more difficult to find an insurance company because they don’t cover high risk drivers.

Major

  • 48 hours in jail.

Second Offense Within Five Years

If this is the second offense you’ve committed within five years (any criminal offense, not just a DUI), you’re likely to face the following penalties. Again, we’ve ranked them on our severity scale.

Minor

  • License reinstatement fee of $175.
  • A $600 to $1,500 fine.

Moderate

  • Your driver’s license suspended for two years.
  • An ignition interlock placed in your car while you have a restricted driver’s license. For second time offenders, this can be for at least a year after conviction.
  • Required to show an SR22 for three years. This can make your insurance more expensive or make it more difficult for you to find an insurance company.

Major

  • One to five years jail time.
  • 10 days to one year of community service.
  • Possible forfeiture of your vehicle.

Third Offense or More Within Five Years

If you’ve committed three or more offenses within the space of five years, you’re facing the following penalties. This time, they’re considerably more severe than if you’d committed two or fewer offenses.

Minor

  • License reinstatement fee of $175.

Moderate

  • An SR22 filed for three years. Although this is a moderate penalty, it’s important to realize that the consequences of this are quite severe. It’s highly unlikely that car insurance companies will want to insure you if you’ve committed three or more offenses within the last five years.

Major

  • Driver’s license suspended for five years.
  • One to 10 years of jail time.
  • An ignition interlock placed in your car while you have a restricted driver’s license. For third time or more offenders, this means your license will be suspended for a mandatory two years and then you have a restricted license for three years after being released from jail.
  • A $2,000 to $10,000 fine.
  • Forfeiture of your vehicle.

An important note about ignition interlock restrictions: The court may impose this restriction for up to four years if a DUI incident results in serious bodily harm or death of another.

What About Drivers Under 21?

Drivers under the age of 21 or underage drivers who are arrested for driving with a BAC higher than 0.02 face the following penalties.

One thing you’ll notice is that we haven’t placed these under the penalty scale because while they might not seem harsh for a driver over the age of 21, they are for a young driver. In particular, it’s the consequences that these penalties can have on a young driver’s future – from getting car insurance to obtaining a college education or pursuing their career.

First Time Offender

  • Driver’s license suspended for 90 days.
  • A $250 fine.

Second Offense Within Five Years

  • Driver’s license suspended for one year.
  • A $500 fine.

Third Offense or More Within Five Years

  • Driver’s license suspended for two years or until you are 21 years old – whichever is longer.
  • A $1,000 fine.

Depending on the circumstances of the offense, the courts may also impose additional penalties.

What Should I Do if I’ve Received a DUI Charge?

A DUI charge is a serious offense so if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, it’s important you take the following steps to prepare yourself as best you can.

1. Emotionally Prepare Yourself

From being ordered out of the car and being handcuffed to facing the scorn and disapproval of loved ones, being arrested can be embarrassing. But it’s important that you stay as calm as you can to prevent further penalties or placing additional emotional strain on yourself.

2. Know that Your Case can Last a While

A DUI arrest might happen quickly but sorting the case out can last much longer. Be aware of this and its potential long-term effects – it’s the first step towards steeling yourself.

3. Get an Attorney

If you want the best outcome and your case to be closed so you can resume your normal daily life as soon as possible, you need to get an attorney. Most criminal attorneys will handle DUI cases but make sure you find one who’s experienced and someone you can trust to have your best interests at heart.

At Coxwell & Associates, we’ve been representing Mississippians with their legal issues for over 35 years. Our expert team of attorneys are experienced and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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