New drunk driving laws take effect
- Jul. 17, 2012
- 0 Comments
You can’t refuse a breathalyzer test anymore, unless you want to pay $1,750.
On July 1, the Kansas Legislature enacted a new law criminalizing the refusal of taking a breath, blood or urine test when being pulled over with the suspicion of drunk driving. Refusal can result in jail time and fine of up to $1,750 for first time offenders. In addition, refusal of the test is an automatic one-year license suspension, along with another year of driving with an ignition interlock device. Ignition interlock devices require drivers to pass a breathalyzer test before starting the car.
“What this new legislation would like to do is add thousands of more people to the county jail system at a cost of $2 million and congest the court system,” said defense attorney Jay Norton.
Drunk driving is considered a serious offense in the state of Kansas for many reasons, but primarily because some drunk driving accidents are fatal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2009, there were 10,839 fatalities alone resulting from alcohol-impaired driving. This statistic accounts for 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States that year. The risk for college-age students is even higher. According to the same CDC statistics, 35 percent of drivers involved in fatal drunk driving accidents were between the ages of 21 and 24.
Kevin Cummings, a junior from Overland Park, was introduced to some of the strictest DUI laws in the country on a “normal Saturday night” in April 2009.
He asked the police officer, “What if I refuse the breathalyzer test?” The officer replied, “It’s an automatic one-year driving suspension.” Cummings says in these situations, you know they have you in some way.
“I can’t really take the moral high ground, even after my handling by the courts,” said Cummings.
When in doubt, take a taxi.
Edited by Maegan Mathiasmeier