Driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances – Part 1

I was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. What do I do now?

Drunk driving

Drunk Driving

Many people are confused about DUI laws. The law states that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and marijuana are the easiest to detect by law enforcement officers. Consider the following…

From the top

In a stop for a traffic violation, which could be swerving on the road, distracted driving (i.e. texting and driving), improper equipment (e.g. tail light is out), reckless driving, or erratic braking, the officer can blue light you and pull you over for a traffic violation. When this happens, the officer approaches your vehicle and asks for your driver’s license and proof of insurance. You should have these items readily accessible. An officer usually approaches your driver’s side window, but may go to the passenger side window for their own safety against oncoming traffic.

Gathering evidence

The officer assesses your behavior, such as slurred speech, body movement, and aroma; any type of suspicious visual, auditory, and scent available to the senses; gross observation. The officer asks questions. The officer may use this information against you in a court of law.

Next, the officer can conduct a field sobriety test, called specific observation. The officer asks you to step out of the vehicle. Usually the first test is a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which offers clues  that the person may be intoxicated. The officer asks for you to stand on one leg, and also asks for you to walk a line, toe to heel, to observe your balance.


Finally, the officer can conduct chemical tests, such as a breath, blood, or urine analysis. For blood or urine, the officer must call a local magistrate to obtain a warrant. Implied consent means that they may use a portable breathalyzer to see the BAC (blood alcohol content) from your breath. By statute, .08% or higher means that you are legally intoxicated. For most people, this translates to two or three alcoholic beverages over the period of an hour. However, these devices are not fail-proof, and must be calibrated.

Arrested and at the station…

If you are arrested under suspicion of DUI/DWI, the officer may ask you to use the Intoxilyzer 8000 when you get back to booking. This also has to be regularly calibrated. You can refuse either or both of the breathalyzer tests. There may be consequences, though. Mississippi courts take driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances very seriously.

When you have any questions, call us to see if we can be of any assistance to you or someone you know.

Richard Poole Noel, III

Panter Law Firm, PLLC, 7736 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison, MS 39110,