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Drunk driving in Mississippi, as in any other state, is punishable with serious penalties. Once a person has been convicted of a DUI, certain penalties are applied immediately, but the financial effects of a DUI conviction can last for several years. Additionally, a large percentage of all traffic fatalities in Mississippi are due to drunk drivers, so it is safest to hold off on drinking if you know you need to drive.
Basic DUI Laws for the State of Mississippi
The state of Mississippi prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. Commercial drivers and drivers under age 21 have lower legal limits for BAC (blood alcohol content). Mississippi employs the “zero-tolerance” law, which allows minors to be arrested if any trace of alcohol is discovered in their blood. The DUI laws for Mississippi also prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle under the influence of cocaine, marijuana or any other controlled substance.
Penalties Associated with Driving under the Influence in Mississippi
Drivers convicted of a first offense DUI in Mississippi may spend up to 48 hours in jail, and pay fines ranging from $250 up to $1,000. Additionally, they will receive a license suspension of 90 days with a possible allowance for hardship driving privileges after 30 days of suspension. Second offenders can receive a license suspension for up to two years, with five days to one year jail time; fines from $600 up to $1,500 and 10 days to a full year of community service. Additionally, second and subsequent offenders may need to use an ignition interlock device for six months or longer after receiving a license reinstatement, and drivers may be required to attend a victim impact panel and complete an alcohol education program. For third and subsequent DUI offenses, jail time, fines and license suspension continue to increase. Additionally, all vehicles registered to the driver may also be seized.
DUI Accident Statistics for Mississippi
In the state of Mississippi, driving fatalities caused by impaired drivers have been slightly higher than the national average over the 2005 to 2009 time period. In 2005, the rate was at 37% in 2006, as compared to 32% for the nation as a whole and 18% for the state with the lowest number of traffic fatalities caused by drunk driving. Mississippi’s alcohol-related fatality rate was reduced in 2007, and has improved to 33% of all traffic fatalities in 2009.
Although traffic fatality statistics on Mississippi’s drunk drivers seem to be close to the national average, this does not account for differences in the number of drivers in each state, as some states have substantially higher populations than others. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has compensated for this by recalculating the traffic fatality data using the number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. When Mississippi’s data is reviewed with this new metric, the alcohol-related fatality traffic statistics show that the state had alcohol-related fatalities that were a surprising 80% higher than the national average for drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08% who were involved in fatal traffic accidents. The rate dropped substantially from 2005 to 2008, however, with 2008 traffic fatalities at approximately 45% higher than the national average.
SR-22 Requirements in the State of Mississippi
SR-22 insurance is required in Mississippi for drivers to have received a license suspension. An SR-22 certificate is provided to the state to show proof of insurance after an individual regains the use of his license, and requires the driver to carry at least the state minimum car insurance requirements. The SR-22 certificate will cost from $25-$50, depending on the insurer. Most drivers will need to keep the SR-22 insurance intact for three years from the date of the end of their license suspension.
Effects of a DUI on the Cost of Car Insurance
In Mississippi, a DUI remains on a driver’s record for 5 years. After a DUI, a driver will be required to carry the minimum amount of liability insurance required by the state for three of those years. Since the driver has had to file an SR-22 certificate, and has a DUI on his record, the insurance company automatically assigns a high risk profile to the driver. This increases insurance rates dramatically, and reduces the number of insurance companies available to provide affordable insurance.
Immediately after being charged with a DUI, drivers should seek the help of an expert attorney and find out if their case can potentially be reduced to a lesser violation than a DUI. Penalties and fines may also be reduced, and overall, these actions may improve the prospects of obtaining cheaper insurance.
How to find High Risk Mississippi Car Insurance Companies?
Drivers with a DUI conviction may have some difficulty finding insurance that provides good coverage for an affordable rate. The first step toward finding SR-22 insurance is to locate several insurance companies licensed to do business in Mississippi that specialize in high-risk insurance. This is critical, because these insurers will provide substantially lower rates than insurance companies that work with drivers who have no marks on their records. Quotes can be obtained over the telephone, but the process goes much faster by using each company’s website. Many companies can provide online quotes in less than 10 minutes.
Obtaining several quotes is the fastest way to find cheap SR-22 insurance, believe it or not. Each insurance company uses its own methods to calculate policy premiums, and there may be a surprising amount of difference between quotes. Additionally, choosing a higher deductible, keeping a good credit record and asking each company if they offer a discount for setting up automatic payments can save extra money. The best insurance companies to start with are those who have a long track record of successfully insuring high risk drivers. Start your car insurance comparison search today and compare Mississippi car insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code above.