What If My DUI Resulted in a Car Accident?
According to the Mississippi DOT, 18 percent of the total traffic deaths in the state of Mississippi in 2016 were the result of impaired drivers. The CDC found that while 1.2 percent of Mississippi drivers admitted to driving after drinking too much within the past thirty days, nationally, that number is higher, at 1.9 percent. While driving while impaired in the state of Mississippi can have very serious consequences, having an accident while impaired brings its own set of issues that the driver must deal with—potentially for a very long time. Because the consequences are so life-altering, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Mississippi DUI attorney as quickly as possible following your DUI accident.
What are the Consequences of a DUI Without an Accident?
Being charged with a DUI in any state brings serious repercussions, and the state of Mississippi is no exception. While the penalties for a Mississippi DUI depend on the specific circumstances of each case—as well as whether there are any prior offenses—a first-offense Mississippi DUI (a misdemeanor) can result in a fine from $250 to $1,000, up to 48 hours in jail, a driver’s license suspension for 90 days to one-year, a minimum of 10 hours attendance in a driver’s education program, and the necessity of obtaining an SR22 proof of financial responsibility prior to license reinstatement. Mississippi has a five-year lookback period for determining prior DUI offenses.
If a second DUI conviction (a misdemeanor) is garnered within that lookback period, the fine increases to $600-$1,500, the time in jail increases to from five days to one year, the license suspension can be up to two years (with possible reinstatement after one year if a court-approved treatment program is completed), an ignition interlock is required for a minimum of six months, the offender will be sentenced to from ten days to one year of community service work, alcohol and drug abuse assessment and treatment will be required, and there is the potential for impoundment of the vehicle. An SR22 proof of financial responsibility prior to license reinstatement will also be required.
A third Mississippi DUI conviction will be charged as a felony, and the fines increase dramatically (from $2,000-$5,000), as does the potential jail time (from one to five years). The driver who is convicted of a third Mississippi DUI within the five-year lookback period could lose his or her driver’s license for a period of five years, although eligibility for reinstatement could be possible after three years when a court-approved treatment program is completed. An ignition interlock device will be required for a minimum of six months, and the offender’s vehicle could be impounded and sold. Alcohol or drug abuse assessment and treatment are likely to be required, as well as an SR22 proof of financial responsibility prior to license reinstatement.
Refusal to submit to a chemical test in the state of Mississippi is an offense—implied consent laws are enforced. A Mississippi driver who refuses to take a chemical test will have his or her driver’s license suspended for 90 days to one year for a first refusal and for two years for a second refusal. The legal BAC limit in the state of Mississippi is 0.08 percent; for drivers under the age of 21 have a legal BAC limit of 0.02 percent, and drivers who hold a commercial license (CDL) have a legal BAC limit of 0.04 percent.
How Do the Consequences Increase When a DUI Includes an Accident?
The state of Mississippi has more than its share of drunk driving accidents. A driver who drives while impaired and is subsequently involved in an accident may face criminal penalties. The victim of a DUI accident is also allowed to bring a civil claim against the impaired driver. Drivers are required to handle their vehicles with the same level of care that a reasonable motorist would do, and a reasonable motorist would be expected to obey the law in virtually every situation.
The courts in the state of Mississippi also recognize the negligence per se doctrine. This doctrine allows plaintiffs to use the rebuttable presumption that the defendant was negligent at the time of the crash if it can be shown the defendant violated a criminal statute—such as driving while under the influence. In other words, if a police report indicates (or a conviction proves) the defendant was drunk at the time of the accident, then the plaintiff is only required to prove the intoxication was the direct cause of his or her injuries.
If an accident occurs due to the intoxication of a driver, and another person is hurt or killed as a result, the impaired driver will likely face felony charges. If the impaired driver kills another person, he or she will be charged with vehicular manslaughter. The penalties for a conviction of vehicular manslaughter include from one year in the County jail to two to twenty years in the penitentiary, and a minimum of $500 in fines. The family of a person killed by an impaired driver may also sue the driver under a wrongful death claim.
How Can You Ensure Your Rights are Protected Following a DUI Car Accident?
To ensure your rights are properly protected following an accident caused by your impairment is speak to an experienced Mississippi DUI attorney as quickly as possible. To help your attorney protect your rights, remember the following:
- Call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
- Stay at the scene of the accident, or you could be charged with a hit-and-run.
- Report the accident to the police;
- Avoid making a statement to law enforcement—written or oral.
- Remember you are allowed to refuse field sobriety tests, but if you refuse a breathalyzer test, you will face an immediate license suspension.
- Never say anything which could be construed as admitting guilt—including “I’m sorry.”
- If there were witnesses who would be beneficial to you—and you are able—obtain names and addresses of those witnesses.
- If you are able, take photographs of the vehicles and the scene of the accident.
- As soon as you are able, write down your own version of what happened; do not show this document to anyone other than your attorney.
How Can a Mississippi DUI Attorney Help Following a DUI Car Accident?
A conviction for a Mississippi DUI can have far-reaching, extremely detrimental effects on your life. If you have been charged with a DUI, which resulted in an accident, those effects will be even more severe. Because of this, it is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable, highly skilled DUI attorney in your corner. Our attorneys have been helping those charged with DUI for many years, with good outcomes; we offer compassion, along with experienced negotiation and aggressive litigation, when warranted. Contact The Stroud Law Firm today for exemplary DUI representation in the state of Mississippi, as well as in Memphis, TN.