Getting Pulled Over for a DUI in Mississippi
By Hancock Law Firm, PLLC |
The best way to avoid getting a DUI is not to drive after you’ve been drinking. However, there are occasions where you may have a momentary lapse in judgment, fall prey to an overzealous patrol officer, or encounter a DUI checkpoint, and be subjected to questioning regarding driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Here are some valuable guidelines and information on your rights when you’re pulled over for a DUI in Mississippi.
- Find a safe place to pull over, and remain calm.
From the moment the police see you drive in a suspicious manner, they will be watching every move you make for further support for their theory that you are driving under the influence. Make sure that your behavior is not erratic, that you pull over to a safe location, and that you do not make any sudden movements inside your car while waiting for the officer to approach you. The officer will be carefully observing your behavior in the car even before speaking with you.
- You are not required to answer questions.
Often when people are pulled over by the police, they are so eager to appear cooperative that they disclose information which turns out later to be incriminating. You have a right under the U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment, and under the Mississippi constitution, not to provide any information beyond your name, license, and registration. In fact, if an officer asks you a question whose answer might paint you in a negative light, you have the right to decline to answer it, and state that you would rather not answer any questions without a lawyer present
- You have the right to refuse to take an “Alco-Sensor” or to take a field sobriety test.
Handheld portable breath tests can be highly inaccurate, and are not compulsory. Unlike refusing to take a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine after your arrest – which has negative consequences if you refuse – you cannot be penalized with a license suspension or other criminal consequence for refusing to submit to a portable alcohol screen. Such tests can be affected by a wide variety of irrelevant factors making them unreliable, but a result reading over the .08% legal limit will nevertheless strengthen a prosecutor’s case against you. Likewise, other field sobriety tests such as walking heel to toe and standing on one leg can be very unreliable, and are not compulsory.
- Refusing to take a chemical test will result in an automatic license suspension.
Although you do have a right in Mississippi to refuse field sobriety and certain handheld breath tests prior to an arrest for a DUI, the rules change after arrest. Once you’ve been arrested, Mississippi’s “implied consent” law dictates that, if a police officer had probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence of alcohol, then you have “impliedly consented” to taking a chemical test of your blood alcohol content (a test of your breath, blood, or urine). Should you refuse to do so, you will have your license suspended for at least 90 days if it is the first time you have refused to take such a test and you haven’t been convicted previously of a DUI. This suspension can last up to a year if you have a prior DUI conviction. However, in Mississippi, you also have a right to receive the results of that test, as well as a right to have your blood alcohol level tested at an independent medical facility.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, contact a skilled DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to represent you. Evidence from many of the tests police use for an arrestee’s blood-alcohol level are flawed and subject to being discredited if presented in court. Additionally, much of the evidence cited by police officers of intoxication is a matter of opinion and could be attributed to other factors. Ensure that your interests are fully represented and that you mount a zealous defense to the charges. Contact the skilled Jackson criminal defense attorneys at the Hancock Law Firm for a consultation at (601) 853-2223.