Just this week, a Hattiesburg man was sentenced to serve 50 years for the death of Leslie Byrd and her unborn child. The man, Matt Davis, pleaded guilty to the aggravated DUI charge, which alleged that his BAC was .16% at the time of the head-on collision that caused the deaths of Byrd and her unborn child. The prosecutor also noted that Davis was charged with DUI on two prior occasions.
In light of this and the many similar stories that are all-too-familiar to us, the battle against drunk driving rages on. The Associated Press recently reported that Governor Phil Bryant is awaiting proposed legislation that would strengthen Mississippi’s DUI law. The overriding emphasis of House Bill 481 is to increase the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs), as discussed previously in this blog. However, the bill, in its most current form, also provides that second and third offenders can have their driver’s license reinstated only after operating on an ignition-interlock-restricted license for a period of one year and three years, respectively.
In addition, the bill creates a new section for fourth and subsequent offenses. Under the current Mississippi DUI statute, section 63-11-30, a DUI is a felony if the person has been convicted of two prior DUI offenses within the preceding five years. The bill, however, would make any fourth or subsequent offense a felony, regardless of when the prior convictions occurred.
And the bill has, of course, the full support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). James Johnson, a coordinator for MADD, said that the proposed law would be another tool for law enforcement and the courts to use in combating drunk driving. “The main purpose [of the bill] is to save lives” by keeping impaired persons from driving and possibly killing themselves, their family, or anyone else. And this sentiment obviously resonated with the vast majority of the state’s legislature. In passing the most current version of the bill this week, there were a total of 169 votes cast between the House and the Senate; there were only four votes against the bill.
For more information on Mississippi DUI law, defense, and related matters, please visit our website: www.mississippidui.com