Summer has come to Mississippi, packing the roads with cars. Whether taking the family out on Arkabutla Lake for the weekend or looking for a fun night up in Memphis, drivers must take care during these warm months when the roads become much more dangerous.
Teenagers must take extra care driving during the summer months. With school out and few jobs available, bored teens may make some careless decisions. Teens who choose to drink and drive not only put themselves and other motorists and pedestrians in danger but can ruin their lives with an underage driving under the influence (DUI) charge.
Mississippi’s Zero-Tolerance law
Like all states in the U.S., Mississippi maintains “zero-tolerance” laws for underage drinking. Mississippi law prohibits those under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing alcohol. Additionally, zero-tolerance laws also impact DUI charges. Drivers under the age of 21 who operate a motor vehicle with even a low blood-alcohol count (BAC) will incur a criminal charge in addition to administrative penalties. Mississippi sets the underage BAC limit at 0.02%.
Administrative penalties for underage drivers include fines, license suspension and rehabilitation programming. Offenders may incur additional criminal charges depending on the circumstances of the arrest.
Administrative penalties for underage drinking and driving in Mississippi increase with every offense:
- 1st offense: For first-time offenders, the state will suspend one’s license for 120 days, require the offender to complete an alcohol education course, administer a fine of $250, and potentially require the offender to attend a victim impact panel.
- 2nd offense: Second offenses incur a one-year license suspension and a fine of $500.
- 3rd offense: For the third offense within five years, Mississippi will extend license suspension until age 21 or after two years, whichever is longer. Offenders incur a $1000 fine and must complete a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program.
To reinstate one’s license after suspension, they must complete an alcohol addiction evaluation program, pay a $175 fee, provide proof of insurance, and pass a driver’s test.
Legal representation can help
Parents with teens facing an underage DUI charge can bring their questions to a local lawyer. An underage DUI charge can have devastating effects on a young person’s life. An attorney can help a family act quickly and responsibly to make sure their teen completes these programs and protects their future.