Mississippi addresses the act of driving under the influence
of drugs or alcohol with a myriad of criminal and administrative penalties.
This crime is called Operating Under the Influence or OUI.
Drivers in Mississippi who want to avoid being charged with
and found guilty of OUI need to know what limits that the state places on blood
alcohol content or BAC levels. They also need to understand the common
punishments that Mississippi courts mete out for people found guilty of OUI.
OUI in Mississippi
Operating under the influence in Mississippi is defined as
having a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or more. This is the per
se definition that applies to drivers of privately owned motor vehicles who are
at least 21 years of age.
The definition also clarifies OUI as driving under the
influence of any illegal drug or substance that impairs a person’s ability to
drive safely and with prudent caution. The definition also extends to using any
drug or intoxicant or intoxicating liquor.
Drivers who hold commercial drivers’ licenses or CDLs are
held to a stricter BAC level than regular drivers. The BAC limit for CDL drivers
is lower than 0.04 percent.
Unlike other states, Mississippi does not impose separate
penalties for enhanced or aggravated OUIs. Even if drivers have BACs of 0.15
percent or higher, which in other states warrants harsher legal penalties, they
face the same criminal and administrative consequences as drivers whose BACs
are 0.08 percent or higher.
Underage drivers in the state also are held to a different
legal standard. Under the state’s zero-tolerance laws for underage drinking, drivers
under the age of 21 can be arrested for OUI if their BAC is 0.02 percent or
OUI Penalties in Mississippi
The penalties for OUI in Mississippi can include both civil
fines and jail time. The punishments that a driver faces depend on factors like
his or her prior OUI history. They also depend on the driver’s age and
A first OUI conviction in Mississippi can garner a jail
sentence of up to 48 hours and a fine of $250 to $1000. A second OUI conviction
results in a jail term of one to five years and a fine of $2000 to $5000.
Second-time OUI offenders are also required to perform at
least 10 hours of community service. First-time offenders can bypass their jail
sentence by completing a non-adjudication program that involves finishing an
alcohol safety program, using an ignition interlock device or IID for 120 days
and paying all administrative fines and fees. The OUI conviction will still
count as a valid offense if the person commits another OUI within the next 10
The state does allow for several circumstances of OUI that
merit harsher penalties. The first involves causing the injury or death of
someone during the commission of the OUI. The driver can face up to 25 years in
prison as well as the standard legal punishments for OUI.
If the driver has an underage passenger in the vehicle while
driving intoxicated, he or she can face a separate charge of child
endangerment. This conviction results in a fine of up to $1000 and a maximum of
12 months behind bars. If the child was injured or killed, the fine increases to
$10,000, and the driver will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Underage drivers also face penalties if they are found
guilty of OUI in Mississippi. The punishments for underage OUI include a $250
fine and a 120-day license suspension for a first offense. A second offense
carries a $500 fine and a one-year license suspension. Underage drivers
convicted of a third OUI in the state must pay a fine of $1000, have their
licenses suspended until they turn 21 and complete a drug or alcohol treatment
Drivers’ license Sanctions
OUI convictions are also typically accompanied by sanctions
of the offenders’ drivers’ licenses. The sanctions reflect the number of OUIs
on a person’s record.
A first OUI conviction leads to a suspension of 120 days
while a second conviction results in a suspension of one year. A third OUI
conviction will garner a three-year suspension of one’s license while a fourth
conviction leads to a suspension of 10 years.
During the license suspension period, drivers can ask the
court to issue them a restricted license. The restriction includes having to
install an IID on all of the driver’s vehicles and paying all of the fees and
fines for the OUI conviction.
The driver also has to complete an alcohol safety education
program. Vehicles not outfitted with an IID during the suspension period will
be immobilized by the court.
Mississippi Implied Consent Law
Mississippi is like many states and uses an implied consent
law to get drivers to comply with a law enforcement officer’s request for a
chemical test to determine their BAC. By law, drivers must provide when asked
and with probable cause a sample of their breath or blood.
If they refuse, they can have their drivers’ licenses
suspended for up to 90 days. Their licenses can also be seized by the law
enforcement officer. Someone with an OUI already on his or her record faces
having his or her license suspended for up to one year.
Mississippi strictly outlaws the act of operating under the
influence. Drivers found guilty of this offense face serving time in jail,
paying steep fines and losing their privilege to drive.
They cannot refuse testing for BAC under the state’s implied
consent laws. Drivers of all ages can lose their licenses and pay fines for
refusing to submit to chemical testing with probable cause.