Kansas Drunk Driving Laws
Maybe you figured you could drive home from Wichita with your eyes closed by now, so what difference would a couple of drinks make? Or maybe you thought it was too pricey to get a hotel in Topeka for the night, so you braved the drive, even though you had one too many shots to celebrate your buddy’s birthday. No matter how your blood-alcohol content (BAC) went over the legal limit, Kansas drunk driving laws severely punish drunk driving — also known as “driving under the influence” — because driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs kills thousands of people in Kansas each year and injures even more.
What Kansas Law Says
Under Kansas drunk driving laws, “driving under the influence” means that an officer determined you had a BAC higher than the relevant legal limit. Typically, an officer will notice that you were swerving while driving, cutting off other cars, or otherwise driving suspiciously, and then the officer will pull you over and ask to administer a field sobriety test and either a breathalyzer or a chemical blood test.
If you drive through a sobriety checkpoint, the officer does not need to have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence — the officer just needs to follow the preset rules for a legal sobriety checkpoint. For instance, the officer must check every third car.
BAC legal limits:
- BAC limit of 0.08: Drivers 21 and up (Sec. 8-1567a(a)).
- BAC limit of 0.02: Drivers under 21 (Sec. 8-1567a(a)).
- BAC limit of 0.04: Commercial drivers (8-2,144(a)(1).
Penalties for Drunk Driving Charge
- First Offense: Mandatory 48 hours of incarceration; 100 hours of community service; mandatory education program; may be ordered to attend a treatment program (on your own dime); fine of $500 to $1,000; driving privileges suspended for 30 days, then restricted for another 330 days; car may be impounded for one year (Sec. 8-1567(b)(1)(A)).
- Second Offense: At least 90 days and up to one year in jail; fine of $1,000 to $1,500; court-ordered treatment program; one-year driver’s license suspension; mandatory ignition interlock device for one year; vehicle could be impounded for one year (Sec. 8-1567(b)(1)(B)).
- Third Offense: At least 90 days and up to one year in jail; fine of $1,500 to $2,500; court-ordered rehabilitation program; one-year driver’s license suspension; car may be impounded for up to one year; mandatory use of an ignition interlock device on your car for one year. (Sec. 8-1567(b)(1)(C)).
- Subsequent Offenses: Your fourth or subsequent offense will be charged as a felony; 90 days to one year in jail; $2,500 fine; car may be impounded for one year; court- ordered treatment program; one-year driver’s license suspension; mandatory use of an ignition interlock device on your car for one year; probation for a period of one year (Sec. 8-1567(b)(1)(E)).
- DUI with a Minor: If you have a child who is under the age of 14 in the vehicle with you, you’re facing an extra month in jail on top of any other jail sentence the judge ordered — and the extra jail time must be served consecutively (Sec. 8-1567(c)).
- DUI under 21 years of age: If you are under 21, the first time your BAC is 0.02 or higher, your driving privileges will be suspended for 30 days. If you already have one or more DUIs on your record and you are under 21, your license will be suspended for an additional year each time you are convicted of a DUI (Sec. 8-1567a(b)).
Read the full text of the Kansas States for more information.
I Was Charged With a DUI: What’s Next?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, a skilled Kansas criminal defense attorney has ways to challenge the charge against you. Typically, a criminal attorney will argue one of three defenses. First, an attorney will argue that the police officer illegally stopped your car. For instance, if you were not speeding, didn’t have a broken taillight, and were otherwise following the rules of the road, the police officer may have illegally pulled you over; so any tests conducted after that cannot be admitted into evidence. Second, if the stop was legal, an attorney will argue that the officer improperly administered the field sobriety or breathalyzer test. Finally, an attorney can argue that the breathalyzer machine itself malfunctioned.
There may be other defenses you can use if none of these apply to your situation.