Gulfport, MS- A Gulfport couple is calling for tougher DUI laws in Mississippi after a repeat offender hit and injured them both earlier this year.
Mississippi’s DUI laws are too lenient on repeat offenders
In August of this year, Jamie and James Bates were driving with their five-year-old son when they were violently struck by a motorist traveling at high speed. No one was killed, but they were hurt. They soon learned that the driver who hit them was a drunk driver.
The driver, identified as Guadalupe Dominquez-Falcon, had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.219 percent and was driving with a suspended license. He was arrested and charged with DUI, driving with a suspended license and no proof of insurance and pleaded to a lesser charge last month.
At Dominquez-Falcon’s trial, the Bates were shocked when he was sentenced to less time for DUI than driving with a suspended license. A judge sentenced him to the maximum of 180-days in jail for the driving with a suspended license charge and just two days for the DUI charge.
The accident involving the James family happened to be Dominquez-Falcon’s third DUI and the couple was surprised by his lenient sentence and wished the penalties were more severe. The couple said they think a person should get a tougher penalty for a repeat offense. James Bates told WDAM Channel 7 that all DUIs should be a felony.
DUI penalties in Mississippi
The reason Dominquez-Falcon’s sentence was so lenient is the state’s lookback period, which is five years. His third DUI arrest occurred over five years after his previous arrests, so his charge was not considered a repeat offense. Also, under current laws, a DUI conviction is not a felony until it is a fourth offense.
If you are convicted of your first DUI in Mississippi, you face a maximum of two days in jail, $250 to $1,000 in fines and a 90-day license suspension period.
A conviction for a second DUI in Gulfport carries a minimum of 5 days in jail to one year and fines ranging between $600 and $1,500. Second DUI offender will also have their license suspended for two years.
A third DUI conviction carries a maximum jail sentence five years, up to $5,000 in fines and have their license suspended for a maximum of five years.
In many cases, prosecutors and judges will see a first DUI as a mistake and will cut an offender some slack if that driver didn’t harm or kill others. However, it is much harder to get leniency if you are facing a repeat offense. Whether you are facing your first DUI or your second DUI, you need to act quickly and retain a DUI lawyer in Mississippi immediately. USAttorneys will connect you with a top-notch DUI lawyer in Gulfport, Mississippi if you need a defense for drunk driving. Call and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys today.