Mississippi Senate leader Burton gets DUI charge after wreck


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The second-ranking leader of the Mississippi Senate has been charged with DUI after a one-vehicle wreck.

Republican Sen. Terry Burton of Newton was charged after running a sport utility vehicle off of Interstate 20 and hitting a sign about 10 p.m. Saturday in Scott County, according to a statement Monday from a Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman, Capt. Johnny Poulos.

Burton did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Monday, and it was not clear whether he has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

Burton, 60, has been in the Senate since 1992. He represents District 31 in Lauderdale, Newton and Scott counties.

In January, Burton's colleagues chose him as Senate president pro tempore. In that role, he is an ally of Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and he presides over the Senate when Reeves is not available. He also chairs the Senate Rules Committee.

Burton voted for two bills this year to strengthen DUI laws, and both have been signed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

Senate Bill 2777 creates a task force to study having all law-enforcement agencies use the same reporting system for drunken-driving offenses. It is designed to eliminate the problem of people being charged with first-offense DUI if they have previous charges that officers can't find on the drivers' records.

Senate Bill 2778, called the DUI Transparency Act, makes several changes to state law, including creating a new category for fourth and subsequent offense DUI punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $10,000.

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