Joey: There are a myriad of defenses in a DUI case. They range from procedural to legal to factual. When I say procedural, an officer has to have a reason to stop you and it’s called probably cause or reasonable suspicion. If they didn’t have a reason, then the rest of it doesn’t matter. Quite often we get cases dismissed based on lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
Then we get into the legal issues. Did you blow .08 or not? If you didn’t, then you didn’t meet the statutory requirement. We look at common law DUI and that’s where the facts of the case come in. The field sobriety test, the walk and turn test that you always hear about, the stand on one leg and count to ten, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test; all those are factual things to show impairment.
Officers are human beings and they skip steps sometimes. Machinery breaks because that’s what equipment does. And sometimes so much time passes that people forget things. That goes into building a defense for a DUI case. There’s no one thing we look at as a DUI Defense Lawyer Canton MS. We love it when we see the nuclear bomb defense sitting there, but that’s usually not the case. We usually have to nibble and bite at it and eventually wear down the prosecution’s case.
Let’s say I’ve been drinking and I’m driving and I see a checkpoint. What do I do?
Joey: The police likely set the checkpoint up in a position that by the time you see it, you can’t turn off the road without giving an officer reasonable suspicion. If you can turn off on a side road or pull into an apartment complex, by all means that’s something I would seriously consider doing if I was in that situation. Alternatively, if you must go through the checkpoint, have your ducks in a row. Don’t make the officer ask you for a license, registration and proof of insurance. Have it in your hand when you pull up and roll the window down just enough to pass the information through. You don’t want his head in your vehicle trying to smell for alcohol or marijuana or anything like that. You don’t want to sit there for an extended period while he observes bloodshot eyes and you want to say as little as possible. If he says good afternoon and you can get away with nodding, then he can’t talk about slurred speech
So there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure and contact with an officer and I highly recommend individuals do that. Even if you have not been drinking, you never know when somebody has left something in your vehicle that the officer’s going to shine his light on and start asking questions about.
Is a DUI a felony or a misdemeanor?
Joey: It depends on the circumstances of the DUI. Generally a DUI first and second are misdemeanors. In Mississippi, a misdemeanor is anything that requires less than a year of jail time. So a DUI first offense is only two days. A second offense is just a few more days more. A DUI third offense becomes a felony and you’ll spend a significant amount of time in jail and you lose your license for years. However, a DUI first and second can fall under a felony category if somebody’s hurt and you were driving under the influence. If you destroyed property, they could up a first or second to a felony.
Let’s say I’ve been drinking and I’m driving and I get in an accident but the accident’s not my fault. What happens there?
Joey: An old attorney in Mississippi told the story about a personal injury case and he won his case by saying that even a drunk man had a right to be in that lane. You will likely get a DUI if there’s an accident and the officer smells alcohol and you blow above .08 at the station. But you may still have a personal injury case against the individual who struck you, if it’s clearly their fault.
How will a DUI arrest affect my commercial driver’s license?
Joey: It will wreck your commercial driving career. DUI first offense on a commercial driver’s license means you lose your license for one year. There’s no non-adjudication route to skip away from it. We used to have truck drivers surrender their driver’s license and get a regular driver’s license and deal with the 120 day suspension. That doesn’t work anymore. Keep in mind, somebody operating a commercial truck only has to blow a.04 as opposed to.08. I advise commercial truck drivers to us a taxi service, if they’ve been drinking.
Call Attorney Joey Franks at (601) 773-7777
DUI Defense Lawyer Canton MS, DUI Defense Lawyer Madison MS