This year’s legislative session brought about fewer changes to Mississippi’s DUI statutes than last year’s, but there were still some important amendments nonetheless. Here’s an overview of what happened:
- No ignition interlock for DUI Other – Under the previous version of Mississippi’s ignition interlock law, a person charged or convicted of driving while under the influence of a substance other than alcohol (marijuana, prescription painkillers, etc.) could still operate a car under an ignition interlock restricted license rather than suffer a license suspension. That’s no longer the case. Given that the ignition interlock device only detects the presence of alcohol, not drugs, the device was somewhat limited in addressing any public safety issues unrelated to alcohol.
- Nonadjudication available in instances of breath test refusal – Much confusion existed over last year’s DUI nonadjudication law with respect to the availability of nonadjudication in instances of a breath test refusal. Some courts were not allowing a nonadjudication when the defendant had refused to submit to a breath test, some were doing so only after a hearing, and some were doing so without any difficulty. This year’s amendments to Mississippi’s DUI statutes clarify that a person who refuses a breath test may still be allowed to participate in a nonadjudication. (Be aware, that does not mean the judge hasto let the defendant participate, just that the judge’s hands are not tied by the statute.)
- Court may retain jurisdiction over a nonadjudicated defendant for up to 2 years – The Legislature amended the Mississippi DUI statute to dictate that a judge may not require a term of probation longer than 2 years for purposes of DUI nonadjudication. This does not mean that all courts will make nonadjudication last 2 years, but it does mean that all courts can make a nonadjudication last 2 years.
- You only get one bite at the nonadjudication apple – This year’s changes to the Mississippi DUI statute and Mississippi’s general nonadjudication statute made an effort to clarify that a person is entitled to only one nonadjudication for a DUI.