Mississippi OUI Laws and Defenses

Drink and drive in Mississippi and you risk being stopped for operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI). Most people understand that it is never a good idea to operate a vehicle when they are intoxicated. The problem is that many people don’t feel that they are impaired after having a couple glasses of wine with dinner, a few beers with the guys after work or cocktails at the club. While they may not believe that they are impaired, they may still be over the legal limit of a blood alcohol level of .08 percent.

Sobriety Checkpoints 

Sobriety checkpoints are an increasingly popular tool for Mississippi law enforcement. They are used most often around major holidays and the days preceding and immediately following them when many residents are celebrating with family and friends. Police and prosecutors realize that these checkpoints usually generate enough arrests to justify the effort. Below are some things to consider if you are driving and approach a sobriety checkpoint in Mississippi.

When these checkpoints are planned, the law enforcement agencies announce them a few days in advance, usually in the local newspaper but also through other media as well. The day and hours of the checkpoint will be noted but not the specific location. Some agencies will release very generic geo locations such as the “west side of town” or something similar, but this is not required.

Checkpoints are designed to randomly select drivers for these stops. Perhaps every seventh vehicle will be signaled to pull over for breathalyzer tests or other sobriety tests. In some instances, they may stop every driver for a quick breathalyzer test. When an officer initiates an interaction with a driver during a sobriety checkpoint, he or she is assessing every aspect of the interaction to gauge the driver’s sobriety, or lack thereof. Some of the indicators that will lead to further questioning and possible arrest include:

  • Odor of alcohol or marijuana on the driver or coming from the vehicle
  • Giving contradictory answers to questions asked by police
  • Slurred speech
  • Presence of open bottles of liquor or other alcohol in the vehicle
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Driver’s admission of drug or alcohol use

Drivers who are flagged for extra scrutiny at sobriety checkpoints in Mississippi, as in other states, are compelled to stop. When pulled over, lower your window enough for the officer to speak to you. Remain calm and respectful at all times and comply with the officer’s request for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. You are not required to answer other questions, and your answers may be used against you and lead to an arrest. If you choose to answer questions, be succinct in your answers and don’t volunteer information. Your goal is to conclude the traffic stop and be on your way as quickly as possible.

Implied Consent Laws

Mississippi is one of the majority of states that have implied consent laws. This means that, to have the privilege to drive on the roads or have a driver’s license, you have given your consent to sobriety tests. A police officer can request that you submit to a series of field sobriety tests to determine impairment. Because there are many factors that could cause an unimpaired person to fail these tests, it is permissible to politely refuse to perform field sobriety tests. The officer can then arrest you on suspicion of OUI and demand that you submit to a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, however.

Once you are arrested and booked, you have the right to speak to an attorney. A Mississippi criminal defense attorney that handles OUI cases may be able to challenge the evidence due to various factors such as the manner that the specimen was collected with blood samples or an incorrect calibration of the breathalyzer machine.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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