Halloween weekend is upon us. In addition to planning your costume, you should also be planning a sober ride if you will be drinking because Mississippi police is going to be out in full force looking for drunk drivers.
If you end up being pulled over by police and you are not sure if you are over the legal limit to drive, you may wonder if you should agree to take a breathalyzer test or not. In the past, most DUI lawyers said that refusing to blow is always your best bet, but that's not true anymore.
How refusing a breathalyzer test can hurt you
Two years ago, the non-adjudication statute went into effect in Mississippi, which permits non-adjudication and "expunction" for first-time DUI offenses. In other words, it is possible to have a first-time DUI conviction permanently erased, or expunged, from a person's record with a lawyer's help.
However, this is much more difficult to do if the person refused a breathalyzer test.
How expunction works
1. The driver enters a guilty plea, but is not found guilty of DUI.
2. The driver meets several requirements, including:
- Paying all fines imposed by the court
- Adhering to all penalties imposed by the court
- Attending an alcohol safety course
- Installing an ignition interlock device in his/her vehicle for 120 days
3. After the court's requirements have been met, the DUI can be dismissed.
4. After five years have passed, the DUI may be expunged from the driver's record. The driver must explain to the judge why the DUI should be expunged. If the judge agrees, the DUI is completely cleared from the driver's record, as if the arrest never happened.
A few more things to know about expunction:
- Expunction is possible in cases where driver's refused breath or blood testing, but it is more difficult to achieve and requires 180 days of a restricted driver's license and ignition interlock device installation.
- Only drivers with no DUI convictions and no other pending DUI charges can qualify for expunction.
- A clean record saves a fortune in car insurance premiums as well as future job opportunities.
- A person who is certain that he/she is not over the legal limit to drive should ALWAYS agree to breath or blood testing.
- It is extremely difficult to have success with the non-adjudication statute and expunction without the help of an experienced lawyer.
If you end up getting stopped by police this weekend (or any other weekend) make sure to follow these dos and don'ts. With that said, have a safe and happy Halloween!