Parker DUI Reform Bills Approved by Legislature

Reforms close loopholes; strengthen prosecution: headed to governor

JACKSON (April 22, 2016) – In the closing days of the 2016 legislative session, the House and Senate voted to approve two DUI reform bills authored by Senator David Parker (R-Olive Branch) which would close current loopholes and strengthen prosecution. The measures are headed to Governor Phil Bryant for his consideration.

“Mississippi’s DUI loopholes created a dangerous driving environment for everyone. I’m proud the legislature – both House and Senate – worked in a bi-partisan way to reform the way we report and punish DUI violations to close the loopholes and strengthen prosecution,” Parker said.

Parker continued, “The old law encouraged prosecutors and judges to adjudicate DUI violations as first offense DUIs to prevent the courts from being bogged down by DUI jury trials. As a result, 92 percent of DUI offenses are adjudicated as first offenses, even with violators who have multiple violations. These measures correct that by adjusting offense categories and requiring accurate and transparent reporting of DUI convictions.”

“Repeat DUI offenders threaten the health and lives of their passengers, others on the road and themselves. We do them and society a disservice by letting them off lightly on a first offense when in reality they have multiple offenses. Those individuals need help and that needs to be addressed before they hurt others,” said Parker.

The measures were Senate Bill 2778, The DUI Transparency Act; and Senate Bill 2777, The DUI Modernization and Technology Act.

SB2778 – DUI Transparency Act

  • Adjusts offense categories
  • Lower 2nd offense penalty below jury trial threshold to remove motivation of judges and prosecutors to reduce charges to 1st offense
  • 3rd offense penalty automatically a felony
  • Creates new 4th offense category (Fine $3000 to $10,000 / 2 to 10 years prison)
  • Mississippi Alcohol Safety Program mandatory after 1st offense
  • DUI operation of a commercial vehicle by a person with a commercial drivers license is an automatic felony; a person with a CDL driving their private vehicle reverts to regular penalties
  • Creates drug testing as interlock substitute for DUI & narcotic violators
  • Creates $100 civil penalty for court clerks who fail to report DUI convictions
  • Requires Department of Public Safety to maintain a central database for verification of prior offenses and convictions

SB2777 – DUI Modernization and Technology Act

  • Creates uncompensated study committee to monitor reporting of 1st offense DUIs
  • Committee to report findings by end of the year to measure impact of SB2777 & SB2778
  • Make a comprehensive study of the flow of information between all agencies
  • Make recommendations for electronic submission of all records with possible costs
  • Make recommendations for implementing court supervised drug testing for repeat offenders
  • Review DUI records to determine whether repeat offenders are actually being prosecuted as repeat offenders
  • Asses probability of DPS producing a self-authenticating record of DUI convictions  that is admissible under Rules of Evidence
  • Creates Mandatory Statewide Offense Reporting System Task Force
  • Study uniform crime reporting and standardized offense reporting system
  • Provide true picture of crime in state and to predict and prevent criminal activity
  • Major focus is to recommend an automated reporting system
  • Members serve without compensation
  • Report to legislature by December 2016

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