DUI charge comes with more than you might imagine

Published 9:13 am Friday, December 30, 2016

Bringing in the New Year is a time of excitement and fun, but there is zero fun to be had when you are caught driving under the influence.

A DUI is a costly offense. First offenders face jail time of up to 48 hours, with fines and court costs upwards of $1,000, and a license suspension of 90 days.

If caught a second time, offenders face five days to one year in jail, up to $1,500 in fines and court costs, license suspension of two years, as well the possibility of the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

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“It’s best to call a cab,” Judge Jeff Crevitt said. “It’s a lot less expensive than getting caught behind the wheel drunk.”

When caught a third time, offenders could receive up to a five-year prison sentence, $2,000 to $5,000 in fines and court costs, with a five-year suspension of driver’s license, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

First and second offences are considered misdemeanor crimes, while a third offence and aggravated DUIs are felonies.

In 2012 and 2014, Vicksburg had two fatalities that were connected to drivers driving under the influence.

“It’s really important that we keep everyone safe,” Crevitt said. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt by a careless act.”

Aggravated DUIs are vehicular accidents that result in the death of another person due to driving under the influence.

“They have life-changing impact,” Warren County District Attorney Ricky Smith said. “It carries prison time of up to 25 years. We routinely give 15- to 18-year sentences for the offense.”

Vicksburg Chief of Police Walter Armstrong said the increased presence of police officers would be felt on New Year’s Eve.

“We want to make sure that everyone is safe,” he said. “Therefore, we are going to saturate the city to ensure that there are no injuries or deaths by drunk driving.”

Due to the higher volume of arrests made during the holidays, Armstrong advices residents to plan ahead for their night out.

“Put a plan in place before you start indulging,” he said. “Call someone who has not been drinking to make sure you get home safely.”

Armstrong said residents could expect random roadblocks along with the additional officers in the name of keeping Vicksburg safe.