Mississippi law requires that drivers convicted of DUI First Offense “attend and complete an alcohol safety education program.” Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30 not only includes MASEP as a sentencing requirement, but it also establishes MASEP completion as a prerequisite for obtaining driver’s license reinstatement or a hardship license pursuant to the 90-day administrative suspension provision. Clearly, then, MASEP is unavoidable for first offenders convicted under Mississippi’s DUI statute.
Authority for the MASEP program is found in Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-32. In addition to providing for assessments against the offender, section 63-11-32 requires that “the program shall consist of a minimum of ten (10) hours of instruction.” And in its current form, MASEP classes are carried out through in-person, weekend classes offered at 41 locations across the state. For more information on MASEP, see the MASEP website: http://www.ssrc.msstate.edu/divisions/masep/
However, House Bill 1364 of the 2013 state legislative session seeks to eliminate the attendance requirement found in section 63-11-30. Whereas the statute currently does not prescribe any particular method of instruction, H.B. 1364, authored by Representative Kevin Horan of Grenada, MS, would provide for instruction through both traditional classroom settings and online. To do so, the proposed amendment would simply add to section 63-11-32 the following language: “The program shall be offered in a classroom setting and online.” By providing for online instruction, offenders would no longer be required to physically attend MASEP classes.
With the fast-paced nature of modern society, H.B. 1364 offers a welcome alternative to offenders who must complete MASEP. And considering the pervasiveness of online educational programs and resources within the higher education community, there should be little doubt as to its potential effectiveness. Ideally, online instruction would allow those working out-of-town, off-shore, or on weekends to satisfy MASEP requirements without missing work; also, it has the potential to reduce non-compliance in the form of missed classes. In short, H.B. 1364 represents a common-sense, practical alternative to satisfying the statutory mandates regarding MASEP. For more information, or to view the full text of the bill, please visit the Mississippi Legislature’s website: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2013/pdf/history/HB/HB1364.xml
For more information on Mississippi DUI defense, MASEP, and related matters, please visit http://www.mississippidui.com/