Oxford Criminal Defense Blog

It isn’t Over till it’s Over

There are simply times when things may not go your way in court, however, it is important to note, when facing DUI charges, that being found guilty in Justice Court or Municipal Court may not be the end of the line for your case. Even when unsuccessful in your trial, you do still have the right to appeal to a higher court, Circuit Court. However, while you have this right, it is not unlimited. Your notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of your conviction or you lose your opportunity to appeal. It is always important to discuss the appeals process with your attorney so that you are able to make the decision which is best for you.

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Non-Adjudication

Under the new Mississippi DUI laws, it is now possible for a person facing a conviction of Driving Under the Influence, (DUI or “Drunk Driving”) to qualify for non-adjudication. What does this mean for those facing a DUI charge? Non-adjudication allows for a person charged with DUI to avoid actual conviction and therefore keep the DUI off of their record. However, there are a number of rules that must be followed in order to qualify for non-adjudication.

To qualify for Mississippi DUI non-adjudication, it must be your first offense. You must not have refused a breathalyzer. Also, there are number of fees and other restrictions you must pay and agree to. These fees include a non-adjudication fee as well as all fines and court costs that would have been imposed under a conviction. You must attend and complete an alcohol safety education class, and if you wish to avoiding having to forfeit your driver’s license, you must install an interlock ignition device on your vehicle. If you are able to satisfy these and avoid any further charges, you can have the charges dismissed and maintain a clean record.

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The Term “Drunk Driving”

As has been discussed in a previous post, driving under the influence, or DUI is not necessarily what we might call “drunk driving.” In fact, if you take a look at the actual Mississippi DUI statute, you will find that the term “drunk” is nowhere to be found.

(1) It is unlawful for a person to drive or otherwise operate a vehicle within this state if the person: (a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor; (b) Is under the influence of any other substance that has impaired the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle; (c) Is under the influence of any drug or controlled substance, the possession of which is unlawful under the Mississippi Controlled Substances Law; or (d) Has an alcohol concentration in the person’s blood, based upon grams of alcohol per one hundred (100) milliliters of blood, or grams of alcohol per two hundred ten (210) liters of breath, as shown by a chemical analysis of the person’s breath, blood or urine administered as authorized by this chapter, of: (i) Eight one-hundredths percent (.08%) or more for a person who is above the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages under state law; (ii) Two one-hundredths percent (.02%) or more for a person who is below the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages under state law; or (iii) Four one-hundredths percent (.04%) or more for a person operating a commercial motor vehicle.

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Driving Under the Influence not Drunk Driving

While drunk driving is a common term, it is not necessarily the most accurate when discussing Mississippi law. Mississippi actually criminalizes “driving under the influence,” also known as DUI or DWI (driving while impaired). A driver can be considered to be driving under the influence without actually being drunk. However, despite not being “drunk,” you can be considered to be driving under the influence based on an officer’s observations, or perhaps the readings on a machine such as an intoxilyzer.

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Initial Appearance

Being arrested for DUI likely causes a great deal of stress for both the person arrested and their family. Much of this stress can be caused by fear of the unknown. After arrest for a DUI, a number of steps are taken and procedures observed, one of the first of these is the initial appearance. At the defendant’s initial appearance, the judge shall: 1. State the defendant’s true name, age, and address; 2. Inform the defendant of the charges; 3. If the arrest has been made without a warrant, determine whether there was probable cause; 4. Advise of the right to assistance of an attorney ; 5. If indigent and desires representation, counsel shall be appointed.

At the initial appearance, as a defendant, you have certain rights which you do not want to forget: 1. The right to remain silent; 2. The right to communicate with an attorney, family or friends; 3. The opportunity to be provided with the conditions, if any, under which the defendant may obtain release.

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