Ringing in the New Year safely
by Paisley Boston
Dec 26, 2013 | 1618 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Christmas has come and gone but the holiday season is still here.

According to Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Tony Dunn, New Year's Eve is one of the most deadly holidays of the year and he cautions drivers to plan ahead.

"We recommend that if you do drink then don’t drive at all but if you do try to make arrangements earlier to prevent being drunk under the wheel," said Dunn.

According to the National Motorists Association, drunk drivers cause 10 percent of all highway fatalities.

"We ask that if you do happen to go out and drink try to be sure that you have a designated driver. If you don’t have a designated driver then be sure to know your limit. Try not to be over the limit if you have to drive," he added.

Under Mississippi law, when a person's blood alcohol meets or exceeds the current .08 percent limit then that person is deemed intoxicated and maybe subject to arrest and fined.

In Mississippi, the individual will be fined at least $250 and their license will be suspended.

These consequences are more severe than those for refusing a test.

Refusing the test does not guarantee that the individual will not face conviction – the person could be found guilty of a driving under the influence even if their refusal means that the state does not have proof that their blood alcohol level was over.08 percent, the legal limit for those over 21.

The prosecution can use test refusal against the individual by arguing that the person refused the test because they knew that they were intoxicated and guilty of DUI.

Mississippi law requires individuals to take a breath, blood, or urine test if they are arrested for DUI.

Mississippi’s “implied consent” law says that if an officer who has probable cause to believe that the individual has been driving under the influence of alcohol lawfully arrests a person, and then the person consents to taking a chemical test for the purpose of determining blood alcohol content.

The test must be taken as soon as possible from the individual, unless they had just finished a drink or swallowed a drug right before the arrest.

The officer has to wait at least 15 minutes from the time a person has eaten or drank something that impairs driving to give the individual a test.

Once a person submits to the officer’s tests, and then the individual has the right to get additional tests done by a medical professional of their choice.

"If you know that you have been drinking heavily, then you should have someone to pick you up or if you are impaired, try to stay wherever you are until you sober up. You may also call your local law enforcement and if they are available maybe they can give lift home," said Dunn.

"Law officials would rather give you a lift home then take you to the hospital or jail," he added.

The federal government defines an alcohol-related fatal traffic accident as an accident where someone died and a person involved in the accident had some measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system.

Dunn also encourages citizens to be watchful even if they have not been drinking.

"I recommend that people try to be careful with whatever they are doing and make sure that they wear seatbelts at all times," he said.

"People should try not to use their cell phones while they are driving and make sure the they are not doing anything that will cause them to be distracted. Just focus on your destination. We want people to have a safe and happy holiday season," he added.