Your driving doesn’t have to be impaired to be convicted of DUI


In 2001, Timothy Christian was driving near Mississippi Highway 35 in Grenada County. A Mississippi Highway Patrol officer who passed Christian’s vehicle observed that Christian failed to stop at a stop sign and did not dim his bright headlights. The officer proceeded to stop Christian’s vehicle and ask for his driver’s license.

Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer smelled the odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. The officer proceeded to request that Christian get out of the vehicle. It was at that time the officer noticed two six-packs of beer inside the vehicle. The officer also observed that a small child in the vehicle was not wearing a safety belt.

After Christian exited the vehicle, the officer asked him how much he had to drink. Christian responded that he had not been drinking. Christian’s behavior towards the officer was belligerent and hostile with frequent episodes of cursing and threats to the officer. An attempt by the officer to administer a portable intoxilyzer was unsuccessful. Christian and his young son were transported to the Grenada County Jail. During the ride to the jail, the officer stopped the police car to place Christian in handcuffs due to further cursing and threats to the officer.

Two officers testified for the State that Christian refused to take the intoxilyzer test. Christian testified that he blew into the intoxilyzer several times but something was wrong with the machine each time. Christian stated that the officers told him that he was not blowing hard enough.

He was convicted of DUI, first offense, and ordered to pay fines in the amount of $614.50 and court costs of $205.50. On appeal, he argued he was not impaired when driving. MCOA affirmed.


Christian relies on Section 63-11-30(1) of the Mississippi Code Annotated as his basis for the assertion that the State did not meet its burden of proof when it failed to offer any evidence on driving impairment. Section 63-11-30(1) has three separate and distinct subsections.

The statute reads: “It is unlawful for any person to drive or otherwise operate a vehicle within this state who (a) is under the influence of intoxicating liquor; (b) is under the influence of any other substance which has impaired such person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle; (c) has an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths percent (.08 %) or more for persons who are above the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages under state law….” Miss.Code Ann. § 63-11-30(1) (Supp.2003).

Christian was charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The applicable statute distinguishes this charge from driving while under the influence of another substance that impairs driving ability. Given the distinction in statutory language, we hold that the State was not obligated to offer proof on impairment of Christian’s driving ability only proof of his driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

Despite the fact that the State was not required to offer proof of Christian’s impaired driving ability, the State offered this proof anyway. Officer Adams testified that Christian ran a stop sign and failed to turn off his high beams as he passed the officer. Clearly Christian’s actions were evidence of his driving impairment.