Mississippi prohibits impaired driving, whether the impairment was caused by alcohol, drugs, or any other impairing substance. But the penalties can vary depending on the impairing substance and other circumstances. This article explains how drugged driving can lead to a DUI conviction as well as the possible penalties.
Mississippi does not have a per se limit on drugs or controlled substances (similar to the .08% limit on alcohol). So, to get a drug DUI conviction, the prosecution generally must prove the driver's level of actual impairment.
Proof of impairment. A driver is considered under the influence if his or her normal ability for clarity and control is lessened by the substances ingested. An investigating officer will normally use special drug recognition tests and other observations to determine if the driver is sufficiently impaired to be in violation of the law. At trial, the prosecutor might use evidence like blood test results, expert testimony, and officer observations to prove impairment.
Qualifying drugs and other substances. A DUI conviction can be based on impairment resulting from illegal controlled substances but also "any other substance that has impaired the person's ability to operate a motor vehicle." Having a valid prescription or legal right to use a substance isn't a legal defense to an impaired driving charge.
First and second drugged driving charges are generally misdemeanors and the penalties are the same as those for drunk driving. A DUI is considered a second offense if occurring within five years of the first offense.
First offense. A first DUI conviction will result in up to 48 hours in jail and $250 to $1,000 in fines. For a first offense, the judge can allow a "non-adjudication proceeding." The non-adjudication program requires the offender to complete a driver safety program, 120 days of a court-ordered drug-testing program, and various fines and fees. By completing the program, the offender can avoid a criminal conviction. However, failure to complete the program will result in the imposition of the standard criminal penalties and the conviction. In either case, a first drugged driving incident results in a 120-day license suspension (unless the offender enrolls in the supervised sobriety program).
Second offense. A second DUI conviction will result in five days to six months in jail, ten days to six months of community service, and $600 to $1,500 in fines. The offender must also submit to an in-depth diagnostic assessment for drug and alcohol abuse and complete the recommended treatment. A second offense drugged driving incident will result in a one-year license suspension. The offender can receive a restricted license by participating in the supervised sobriety drug-testing program.
Refusal. Under Mississippi's implied consent laws, a driver who unlawfully refuses a blood or urine test for drugs will have his or her license immediately seized. The driver's license will be suspended for 90 days for a first offense and one year for a second offense, though a restricted license may be available.