A man has turned himself in on a felony DUI charge, his fifth DUI charge in six years, Biloxi Police Detective Justin Branning said.
Biloxi police had arrested John Alexander Gonzalez, 43, on a misdemeanor DUI charge Jan. 13, when police stopped him on Edgewater Drive near Beach Boulevard, Branning said.
The misdemeanor was upgraded to a felony after Branning said he obtained court abstracts to prove Gonzalez’s four convictions.
Under a state law that took effect Oct. 1, a fourth DUI charge is punishable as a felony regardless of the time frame of other convictions. Previously, a third DUI was a felony but only if the two prior convictions occurred within the past five years.
Gonzalez turned himself in on the felony charge Friday.
So what did Gonzalez tell police?
“He declined to give a statement,” Branning said. “He said he was too nervous to talk without an attorney present.”
A fourth DUI conviction is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.
Branning is the second person Biloxi police have been prepared to prosecute under the new law.
Gregory Henderson qualified for felony prosecution also after a fifth DUI in six years. Biloxi police had arrested him Jan. 20 on a misdemeanor DUI. But Henderson, 34, was taken back to prison on a probation violation on a fraud conviction before his DUI charge was upgraded, Branning said.
Henderson was on probation for a felony DUI conviction from a 2014 arrest in Biloxi. Now he’s serving prison time on that DUI and the fraud conviction.
But some South Mississippi motorists have had far more DUI arrests than Gonzalez and Henderson.
Charles “Chuck” Bennett, 46, has had 10 DUIs, according to Harrison County prosecutor Herman Cox.
A deputy arrested Bennett on a DUI charge on Jan. 25. Bennett’s back in prison on a probation warrant on a felony DUI conviction. Meanwhile, he faces prosecution on two charges of DUI 4th — the one from January and the other from an arrest in 2016, the county jail docket shows.