“Drunk driving” is a loosely used phrase throughout the country. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Students Against Drunk Driving. Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. [Insert the name of a celebrity or athlete] Busted for Drunk Driving! The organizations, slogans, and headlines aside, is “drunk driving” really what our law says is a crime?
Actually, our law – specifically Mississippi law – criminalizes “driving the under the influence,” most commonly referred to as “DUI.” One can drive under the influence without actually being intoxicated, or “drunk.” In fact, as a law firm that has successfully defended thousands of DUI cases in Mississippi, we have found that the majority of the people accused of this crime were not physiologically intoxicated. Rather, in the opinion of an officer, or a machine (a breath, blood, or urine testing machine), the person was “under the influence.” Most often, that is under the influence of alcohol, but we have experienced a rapid increase in the volume of “drugged driving” cases, or, driving under the influence of “other substances” or “controlled substances,” in the last decade or so.
To set forth precisely the Mississippi crime of DUI, please take a look at the current statutory language:
Mississippi Code Section 63-11-30 (Amended 2015)
(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.
As you can see, nowhere in the statute is the word “drunk” used.
No matter what kind of “drunk driving” charge, ahem, “DUI charge” to be exact, someone is facing here in Mississippi, it is important to note and bear in mind several key things: he or she is facing a very serious charge that can include a jail sentence, mandatory fines, mandatory driver's license suspensions or the use of ignition interlock machines, mandatory classes, probation, and a host of other troublesome requirements. A DUI charge can be fought, and it can be overcome, but not without the most qualified attorney to defend it.