How serious is drunk driving in Mississippi?

Drunk drivers continue to pose serious dangers to Mississippi residents. New laws aim to help to reduce some of these risks.

The recent arrest of a state lawmaker for suspected drunk driving is just one of many reminders for Mississippi residents that the dangers associated with drinking and driving are ever present. According to the Clarion-Ledger, the man was arrested after hitting a sign along a stretch of Interstate 20. No injuries were noted in the report and but he has been charged with a DUI.

Drunk driving fatalities in Mississippi

While the above case did not result in any bodily injury or death, many other drunk driving accidents do cause such consequences. Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that between 2010 and 2014, 10 people died due to drunk drivers in Alcorn County.

Neighboring Prentiss County lost 12 people in accidents involving alcohol. Tishomingo and Tippah Counties each experienced six drunk driving deaths in those five years. Statewide, the number of people who died each of these five years in alcohol-related crashes ranged from a low in 159 in 2011 to a high of 208 in 2013.

Tragic accident highlights the need for changes in the law

In the spring of 2015, a driver who had been arrested for drunk driving multiple times hit a van with multiple passengers. Two of the people in the van, both high school girls, were killed in the crash . According to WREG.com, the driver's record shows that five previous DUI offenses between 2008 and 2015 were allowed to be treated as first-time offenses. In all, the driver had been arrested for seven prior drunk driving charges in that time.

Partially in response to the accident that killed the two girls and injured other passengers, Mississippi this spring has changed some of its drunk driving laws. Going forward, even a second offense may result in people spending time in jail. The goal is to make penalties stricter in order to curb a pattern of repeat offenses that result in tragic situations like the one last spring.

In addition to changes in Mississippi, a congressman from Tennessee has introduced h legislation that would establish a nationwide DUI database. The law would require that states report any drunk driving offense. This would allow arrests in one state to be viewed by authorities in other states as well. The law recommends tying reporting of these arrests to the receipt of federal grant money to encourage compliance.

Important information for residents in Mississippi

While the laws governing drunk driving penalties or reporting continue to evolve in an effort to improve public safety, people in Mississippi remain at risk for becoming victims of drunk driving accidents. If this happens, help from an attorney to seek compensation is recommended.