There are people who believe that a DUI charge is not a big deal, at least until they’re in front of a judge trying to reduce the penalties involved in a one-time lapse in responsibility. The truth is that a DUI can be a lifelong black mark on your criminal record, creating a snowball of negative consequences that make the “$10,000 ride” DUI concept seem like a Sunday drive. While more and more states seem to be strengthening their drunk driving laws in order to deter a person from making the choice to drive drunk, many of those same states are allowing a true “first offense” to be treated as a lesson in never repeating the same mistakes. Mississippi, in fact, is changing its DUI laws on October 1 in order to show a slight bit of leniency toward first-time DUI offenders, as long as they meet the following criteria for expungement:
- Five years must have passed since the original (and only) DUI conviction, during which the convicted offender must satisfy all terms of his or her sentence.
- The DUI offender must not have registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .16 or higher at the time of arrest.
- An offender must not have any other DUI or alcohol-related charges pending.
- Alcohol education classes must be attended and completed in accordance with the DUI laws in Mississippi.
- An ignition interlock device must be installed and used by the convicted DUI offender.
Essentially, the new DUI laws in Mississippi will allow a DUI case to be forgiven, in time, if specific criteria is fulfilled by the first-time DUI offender. Since not everyone is a habitual DUI offender, or a “hardcore” DUI offender, these DUI programs that model other diversion programs and allow a person to not only accept the blame for his or her actions, but, make an effort to prove they understand where things went wrong. As a reward for good behavior, the DUI charge is expunged, and the lesson is driven home about the dangers of drinking and driving.