In 2000, deputies with the Copiah County Sheriff’s Department had set up a routine roadblock on Highway 18 in Copiah County to check licenses and look for alcohol. When James Mayo approached the roadblock, his driver’s license was checked. Officer Tommy Rials indicated that Mayo had an open container of beer in plain view in his vehicle.
Mayo was then asked to pull to the shoulder of the road. Rials stated that Mayo admitted that he had been drinking and smoking marijuana earlier. Mayo consented to a search of his vehicle. Rials stated that “the paper with a little marijuana in it” was located inside the vehicle.
Mayo was placed under arrest. Rials asked Mayo if he would consent to a series of field sobriety tests, but Mayo refused. After observing Mayo, Rials determined that he was a little disoriented and had alcohol on his breath. Rials transported Mayo to the sheriff’s department where an intoxilyzer test was performed. The test results indicated that Mayo’s blood-alcohol content was .126 percent at the time of the test.
Mayo was convicted of DUI-First Offense and ordered to pay $500. On appeal, he argued since the possession of beer was dismissed, he could not be found guilty of DUI. MCOA affirmed.
Mayo does not question the constitutionality of the roadblock itself, but asserts the police lacked sufficient probable cause for the subsequent arrest for DUI since the beer possession charge was dismissed. Upon approaching the vehicle, Officer Rials noticed an open container of alcohol in plain view and asked Mayo had he been drinking. Mayo indicated that he had in fact been drinking.
Mayo was then asked to step out of the vehicle. There is a long line of precedent in Mississippi which holds the smell of alcohol emanating from a car is enough to provide an officer with probable cause to make an arrest. See Dale.
Rials testified that Mayo stuttered when answering questions, acted a little disoriented, and had the odor of an “intoxilyzing substance” on his breath. The officer determined that Mayo should be arrested and given an intoxilyzer test.
Rials indicated he observed an open container of beer in Mayo’s vehicle, and that Mayo admitted that he had been drinking. The officer smelled an intoxilyzing substance on Mayo’s breath and noticed that Mayo appeared disoriented. Although the charge of possession of beer was later dismissed, the presence of beer provided sufficient probable cause to conduct a search of Mayo and his vehicle. This court finds no merit in this issue.