Lawmakers Work to Repair Dysfunctional DUI Laws
By: Mike Stetzer
In Kansas, a state board appointed to review DUI laws has said the entire system needs to be reworked. Calling the state's system of punishing DUI offenders "dysfunctional," the Kansas Substance Abuse Policy board concluded there were no quick fixes.
According to the Associated Press, the board was especially critical of the fact that there are no increased penalties for repeat offenders after a third DUI conviction.
Under Kansas state law, a third DUI conviction is a felony and is supposed to be prosecuted in state court. However, the board found that the law appears to reward municipal courts for overlooking prior DUI convictions if it allows them to collect more revenues through court costs and fines.
According to KAKE 10 News, a new law introduced in Kansas could increase fines and jail
time and create consistency in sentencing for DUI offenders by adding a new classification called aggravated DUI. Rep. Aaron Jack, who co-sponsored the bill, says that the time has come
to make roads in Kansas safer.
The new proposed law would raise fines to $500, $1,000 and $1,500 and increases minimum sentences for each DUI offense. The current DUI laws in Kansas have been called confusing and allow for inconsistency in DUI penalties.
Under the new law, aggravated DUI would include such offenses as DUI with a minor in the vehicle and DUI with a suspended license.
The bill also includes an "impairment to the slightest degree" proposal. In every state, the legal blood alcohol limit for driving is .08. However, a driver can be impaired at a blood alcohol level of .02 percent. Under the current Kansas DUI laws, the burden to prove impairment is on the state for drivers who refuse to submit to blood alcohol content testing. The new law would relieve the state of that burden.
Kansas lawmakers say the biggest challenge to the new law would be in finding the resources to accommodate the increased mandatory penalties.