Getting pulled over and arrested for drunk driving is a terrible experience, and in Mississippi a conviction can lead to severe penalties and driving restrictions that create even more disruptions and hardships in people’s lives.
When an officer pulls a driver over, it may initially be for a traffic violation or erratic driving. But the officer may also suspect that the driver is intoxicated based his observation of unusual behavior, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes. From this point, everything the officer does at the scene is for the purpose of gathering enough evidence to make an arrest.
Charges added to a DUI
Law enforcement can interpret any form of questioning or protest to their actions or words as resistance. In Mississippi, more charges can be added on for disorderly conduct or child endangerment if there is a child in the car. And refusing the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test after arrest violates implied consent laws, which can result in a license suspension for up to one year.
Although the individual does not risk additional charges for refusing field sobriety tests or portable breath tests at the scene, this may aggravate the situation and trigger immediate arrest.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized a battery of field sobriety tests to help the officer detect signs of intoxication. The three main signs indicating impairment are:
- Horizonal gaze nystagmus (HGN): an involuntary jerking of the eye when tracking an object moving horizontally
- Walk-and-turn: nine steps heel-to-toe, pivot with one foot, and return in the same fashion
- One-leg stand: standing with one leg six inches off the ground while counting aloud for at least 30 seconds
Although these tests are standardized, because there is a wide range in how they are administered at the scene, they are not objective tests. The results can also be deceiving if the individual being tested is on medications, has neurological problems or a disability. Even if the suspect passes the test, the officer may arrest them anyway, and a refusal may also result in arrest.
Depending on your unique situation, many charges after arrest for a DUI can be dropped or penalties minimized, allowing you to retain your license or be given a temporary permit. But in order to do this, it is essential to have a strong legal advocate in the Gulfport area who will defend your rights and negotiate alternative terms to minimize the damage done to your life.