TUPELO • Tupelo city attorney Ben Logan continues to legally drive, despite being charged with driving under the influence in December.
And the misdemeanor criminal case against Logan in Lee County Justice Court has been indefinitely postponed.
When asked to explain how Logan could continue driving when the majority of people charged with DUI-refusal have their driver’s license suspended, his attorney declined.
“I don’t make comments or try my cases in the press,” said attorney Harry Sumner.
The Daily Journal has discovered Logan’s license was not suspended because his arrest did not follow the normal pattern.
Logan, 55, of County Road 194, Blue Springs, was stopped by a Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper at 11 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2018, at a safety checkpoint on Hilda Avenue at Highway 45 inside the Tupelo city limits. He was taken to the Lee County Jail but never entered the building. Instead, MHP gave him a citation for DUI-refusal, and he was turned over to a Tupelo Police Department shift supervisor.
Under state law, when someone refuses to blow into the Intoxilyzer at a county jail, they are told their driver’s license will automatically be suspended for three months. The machine will print out a report saying they refused the test. A copy of that report is then sent to the Department of Public Safety to trigger the 90-day suspension of driving privileges. Someone charged with DUI-refusal can file a petition contesting the refusal. That will allow them to postpone and possibly negate the suspension.
But because Logan was allowed to skip the entire booking process, he fell between the cracks and into legal limbo.
Logan never entered the jail and was never formally offered the chance to blow into the Intoxilyzer 8000 to determine if his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit. Since he was never offered the test, he never officially refused the test.
And since he never officially refused the test, the Intoxilyzer report was never generated and never sent to Jackson, triggering a three-month suspension of his license.
Logan’s license will only be suspended if he goes to court and is convicted of the crime. If the case is dismissed or he is found not guilty, there will be no suspension.
It is unknown when Logan will have his day in court. In April, Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland signed an agreed order to continue the trial “until further order of this court.”
The original MHP citation of Dec. 7, 2018 listed an arraignment date of Dec. 26, 2018 in Lee County Justice Court, but justice court was not in session the day after Christmas.
On Dec. 11, 2018, the court set a trial date of Feb. 5 at 1:30 p.m. before Justice Court Judge John Sheffield. In a handwritten note on the outside of the file dated 12/10/18, Sheffield recused himself from the case.
On Dec. 21, 2018, Sumner appeared before the court on behalf of Logan and pleaded not guilty. The same day, the court accepted the plea and set a new court date of May 2 before Judge Holland.
On Dec. 26, 2018, attorney Lee Dulaney, Sumner’s partner, filed paperwork asking that Logan’s driving privileges be extended.
On April 9, the court issued a summons to the arresting officer, ordering the trooper to show up in court May 2 at 1:30 p.m. for the trial.
On April 24, Holland signed an order extending the case indefinitely. The order was agreed to by Sumner and interim Lee County Prosecutor Jonathan Martin.