Driving completely sober is always the safest and best way not to get charged with driving under the influence in Mississippi. If you are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI violation, there are some facts you should know about your rights when under questioning by police for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You do not have to answer questions. When you’re first pulled over by police, you may be nervous and feel tempted to try and talk your way out of the problem. Perhaps you think you’ll be able to explain the situation, or be so agreeable and cooperative that the police will allow you to go without trouble. Resist this urge. Without having a nuanced understanding of the law, it can be difficult to know what will or will not later prove incriminating in a case against you. Instead, politely decline to answer questions beyond providing your name and producing identifying documents, with “I would rather not answer any other questions, officer.”
Taking a handheld portable breath test or other field sobriety tests may not be in your best interest. If the police continue to suspect that you have been driving under the influence, they may ask you to get out of your car and complete one of a series of field sobriety tests, such as a walk and turn test, a portable breath test, or a horizontal gaze nystagmus test (i.e., having you follow their finger with your eyes as they move it back and forth). You have the right in Mississippi to refuse to take these tests, and you should. These tests, including the portable breath test, do not afford an accurate representation of your blood alcohol level, and there is no penalty for refusing to take them. However, always do so politely and respectfully. An officer cannot arrest you simply for refusing to take these tests; an arrest requires probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime.
If you are arrested and asked to take a chemical test, there is a penalty for refusing to do so. Once the officer has placed you under arrest and taken you to the station, you will no longer have the right to refuse without penalty to take a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol level. Should you nevertheless refuse to take one of these tests, you will face certain penalties. In Mississippi, a driver who refuses a chemical test faces a license suspension of at least 90 days for the first time they refuse to take a chemical test, where there is no prior conviction for a DUI. However, you do have the right to have your blood alcohol level tested by an independent medical facility after completing the police-administered test, and to obtain the results of the test completed by police. Once you are arrested, call an attorney immediately to determine how you should proceed.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Mississippi, contact Biloxi DUI defense attorney Corban Gunn for a consultation on your claims, at 228.284.6805.