Attendance at Mandatory DUI Classes is Growing

The Clarion Ledger has an article in today’s paper reporting on the growth of the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The article reports that DUI arrests in Mississippi have grown from 22,511 in 2005 to 32,099 in 2009 – a big increase.  Previously, DUI arrests had fallen off, and this was attributed to the focus of Mississippi’s law enforcement being shifted to disaster recovery from Katrina.  But the heat is back on DUI enforcement now.  Arrests are increasing, with a corresponding increase in convictions.

If you are convicted of DUI(1st) in Mississippi, you face the following penalties:

  • imprisonment of not more than 48 hours;
  • a fine of $250-$1000, plus court costs;
  • suspension of your driver’s license for not less than 90 days;
  • possible attendance at “victim impact panel” training; and
  • mandatory participation in the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program.

I have previously discussed that every criminal conviction carries collateral consequences, and DUI is no exception.  Your insurance rates will certainly be affected, as well as your employment, your education, ability to join the military, etc. 

What is the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program?

According to the program’s website, the mission of the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program is to:

  1. To provide education, rehabilitation, and referral information for the first-time DUI offender.
  2. To create a DUI control system by integrating the enforcement, judicial, and rehabilitation / education functions.
  3. To design and evaluate the effectiveness of various education / rehabilitation modalities.
  4. To conduct research in order to design, implement, and test the effectiveness of intervention / prevention strategies.

Upon your conviction for DUI(1st), one of the forms the court will give you is a form directing you to the nearest location of MASEP, and the time to report for your classes.  Classes meet once a week for four weeks, and typically run from two to three hours each.  At the end of the fourth class you will receive a certificate that you can use to get your license back.  You’ll have to pay the fee when you report to your first class – if you haven’t learned already, you will quickly get tired of all the fees involved with a DUI.  My very valuable advice on that is here.

The timing of these classes is important if you want to pursue a hardship license to reduce the period of mandatory suspension.  These classes usually start at the beginning of each month, and we will need the certificate of completion to attach to your hardship petition, so it is important that you begin the classes as soon as possible.  These steps are not rocket science, and I will help you through them if you need me to.

As I have said before, the best way to avoid MASEP classes, fines, hardship licenses, etc. is to not get a DUI.  But the Clarion Ledger article states that the Mississippi Highway Patrol has secured federal funding for more overtime to keep officers on the roads, and they have three new “state-of-the-art” DUI trucks to test and book people accused of DUI.  Increased arrests are inevitable.  The second easiest way to avoid all of it is to beat your DUI.  If you need help with that contact me at clarence@guthriefirm.com or call 601-991-1099.