Kansas to penalize drunk driving suspects who refuse breath tests
Johnson County’s district attorney has reported that DUI repeat offenders are a significant problem statewide. Other state leaders agreed and convinced the Kansas legislature that the state’s drunk driving laws needed to be toughened. The result is what is known as a “refusal” statute.
Under Kansas law, anyone arrested for a DUI who has at least two prior DUI convictions receives a felony charge. A conviction for felony DUI is serious and is punishable with fines, jail time, and license suspension. But apparently these consequences are not enough to discourage some repeat offenses.
Under the new refusal law, an individual suspected of drunk driving who refuses to take a breath alcohol test will be penalized in the same way had they took the test and failed. Kansas police report that as many as a third of DUI suspects pulled over in the state refuse to submit to breath testing. But in the neighboring state of Nebraska where a refusal statute has been enacted, refusals are made only seven percent of the time.
Without a refusal law in place, drivers who have a blood alcohol level above the .08 percent limit but who nevertheless show no other obvious signs of intoxication have been able to escape punishment by opting out of the breath test. But now under the new law, a suspect’s best bet is to submit to the field test.
But just because drivers who are stopped and suspected of intoxication must now consent to breath testing, these field tests are not always accurate. Furthermore, if the test is improperly administered, the results are not valid evidence of drunkenness. An experienced criminal defense attorney can investigate the test methods used in a DUI arrest and prepare a defense that highlights the problems surrounding field alcohol testing technology.