DUI cases complex when crossing state lines

Janis Fullilove (Courtesy: Tunica County Sheriff's Department)
Janis Fullilove (Courtesy: Tunica County Sheriff's Department)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - You may be wondering how Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove is still driving after so many DUI-related charges.

Memphis DUI Defense Attorney David Willis says crossing state lines can slow down the legal process.  In Fullilove's case, Tunica, Mississippi investigators say Fullilove presented them with a valid Tennessee driver's license.
"This is the result you get when you have a county state line so close together," Willis said.  "If Mississippi didn't notify the Department of Safety that a Tennessee resident with a Tennessee driver's license was convicted of DUI based on medication, then there's no way Tennessee could take any actions."

But state lines aren't the only legal road bump.  Fullilove has had three road run-ins in Tunica County and one in DeSoto County, but she was never stopped on a state road.

That means each county in Mississippi has separate court cases, slowing down the process once again.  Mississippi may have revoked Fullilove's license, but that didn't stop her from applying for a license across the state line in Tennessee.

There's no law that requires you to explain how you lost your license.

"Technically, she did lose her license in Mississippi," Willis said. " Whether or not they find that to be a violation of law, that's the slippery slope."

But DeSoto County Prosecuting Attorney Craig Treadway says there is one area where the lines are not blurred with the most recent charge:

"If she's convicted of that, and Tunica County shows that she was operating a motor vehicle under the influence, then she would have violated the terms of her probation," Treadway said.

Fullilove faces charges of reckless driving and DUI refusal in DeSoto County Justice Court November 20th.  If the judge finds her guilty, Fullilove could be charged with contempt of court in Tunica, and spend a day in jail there.