JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi lawmakers have been working on strengthening the DUI laws over the last five years, and the changes are all in effect now.
“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need DUI laws because nobody would drink and drive,” said Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey.
Bailey’s department had already made DUI arrests in recent days ahead of New Year’s Eve.
“A DUI can be a life changing event for someone, even if it’s just a straight DUI with no accident or injuries involved or anything like that,' noted Sheriff Bailey. "It’s going to make your insurance go up, your drivers license suspended, there’s so many negatives to it.”
October 1st of 2016 brought the most recent change to Mississippi law. It created a fourth offense DUI. That part of the law does away with the usual five year time frame and says you’ll get a felony for a fourth DUI, regardless of how long it’s been since the previous three. But it was 2014 that brought about one of the most significant changes of ignition interlock devices. Judges can choose to put interlock devices in the offender’s car instead of suspending the license. It’s basically like a breathalyzer for your car. But the car won’t start if you’ve been drinking. First and subsequent offenders can be eligible.
“I’ve seen a positive effect on that because the people that are really sincere, that have to have a job, that need that mobility,” added Bailey.
There’s also been an option added that gives a one-time opportunity of expungement or non-adjudication after the first DUI. Last year MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, gave Mississippi a 4.5 out of 5. They said the state’s drunk driving deaths dropped by 39 percent since 2013.
To view the full law and what each DUI offense can carry, click HERE.