Driver Charged under New DUI Law

The driver of a car that wrecked Friday in Toomsuba, in which five children were injured, faces charges under a new Mississippi law.

The single vehicle rollover shut down part of Butts Road near Toomsuba for about an hour while emergency responders worked to transport the occupants to the hospital.

31-year-old Gary LaShaun Bishop was taken into custody by the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department after he was released from the hospital.

Bishop is charged with DUI, no insurance card in the vehicle, careless driving, 5 counts of violating the child restraint law, and 5 counts of endangering a child by being DUI.

The endangerment charge is a new charge the Mississippi Legislature approved that went into effect July 1, 2012. It's a misdemeanor offense.

The five counts of Endangering the Life of a Child are Misdemeanors because,

"It's my understanding that the injuries to the children were not life threatening," said Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun. "I do not have a status on those children at this time."

If there would have been serious injuries to the children or worse, that could be upgraded to a felony. With the law just almost 3 months old, this case could help establish precedent for offenses of this nature across the state.

"Actually this is to my knowledge, the first time anyone has been charged with our new statute that was designed to enhance penalties to those individuals who place children in danger by operating a motor vehicle while they're under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Calhoun said.

No court date was immediately set for Bishop.


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