DUI laws 12-27

Solution to problem with DUI law might be problem in itself

By Sandi Pullen

Daily Journal

What seems like a solution to a DUI provision for Tupelo officials may create problems of its own.

“It won’t do nothing but cause innocent people to suffer,” said Raymond Homan, a Tupelo man who said the tag was stolen from his son’s vehicle in Missouri, and his son had to buy a new tag. “They should impound the vehicle and make (offenders) pay the fee to impound it.”

During the 2000 legislative session, lawmakers tightened the screws on DUI offenders, adding a provision that says that drivers charged with second offense DUI face having their vehicle impounded or immobilized and an ignition interlock system installed.

Many law enforcement agencies worried about finding a place to store the impounded vehicles, but Tupelo has worked out a solution to this overcrowding: immobilizing the vehicles by removing their tags.

Regardless of what steps the city takes, says Larry Montgomery, court director for Tupelo Municipal Court, there will always be someone who can figure out how to circumvent the system.

“There’s not a perfect way to impound, immobilize,” Montgomery said. “(Stealing tags) is no more than them stealing cars because theirs is impounded. It’s grand larceny either way. Unless you have a vehicle that’s over 20 years old and the tag costs $30, you’re talking grand larceny.”

Theft of property worth more than $250 is classified as grand larceny, Montgomery said, and most Mississippi tags cost more than $250.

“By taking the tag, we’ve met the law’s requirement,” Montgomery said. “What might happen after that is purely speculation.”