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Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

More drunken drivers in prison

Imprisonment rates have skyrocketed since 2001

December 18, 2005

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More drunken drivers are going to prison in Kansas.

There were 196 DUI violators admitted to prison in Kansas during 2004, according to the most recent numbers from the Kansas Sentencing Commission. That's a 38 percent increase from the previous year and an astronomical rise from 2001, when there were only five drunk drivers admitted to prison statewide.

The increase is due to a 2001 change in state law that required fourth-time drunk en drivers to be placed on parole instead of county probation once they finish serving a mandatory term in county jail. If they get in trouble within a year, they face the threat of entering the prison system instead of being sent back to county jail.

"It's heartening that they're cracking down on some of these people. They're habitual violators," said Max Sutherland, director of Kansas' chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "I think there are people out there who still don't relate to DUI as a serious crime. I think they feel that's not a priority for beds in the Department of Corrections, that it's overloaded and there should be hardened criminals in there. They don't associate that with DUI."

The trend was mentioned in a recent report about Kansas' prison population, which is expected to grow about 8 percent in the next 10 years, from 9,166 this year to 9,749 in 2015.

The state's current prison capacity is 9,357.

Of the 78 people in Douglas County being supervised by KDOC parole officers, at least 11 - about 14 percent - are on parole for theirfourth or subsequent DUI.

"It's just a new population to us altogether," said Jennifer Keating, director of Johnson County's parole office. "They're extremely unique in the fact that they don't go to prison, yet they're on parole."

After a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction, a person must do at least 90 days in county jail. Then they're released and supervised by KDOC's parole officers for one year.

If they don't follow the terms of supervision, they can be sent to prison for 180 days.

"Most of it is probably related to relapsing and drinking," Keating said. "I've had a fair number of them commit another DUI."

They can get out in 90 days if they behave well in prison.

Before the change in the law in 2001,DUI convictions that were more than five years old didn't count against defendants when calculating how many DUIs they had. But now, every DUI in the person's past is counted.

"People need to know that, and I don't think the public is aware," said John Frydman, a local defense attorney who regularly handles DUI cases. "People are being charged with felonies all the time, when in the past it would have only been a misdemeanor."

Comments

pierced_daisy 9 years ago

I for one am glad that they are cracking down on DUIs.

Especially since this is a college town. And can you imagine the amount of people drinking and driving in the snow?!

Drinking and driving doesnt just mean jail time, it means death, it means accidents........

I personally wont drive even if i have had just one beer. It isnt worth the risk.

Ragingbear 9 years ago

I agree. I don't normally drink. Gives me migraines half the time before I even get a buzz. But there have been times that I have gone just to be a designated driver for people out there. And FYI, a DD is rather boring. But at least I knew that there would be one less drunk driver on the street that night.

As for the DUI's themselves. Well, don't drop the soap fellas. Cause that is the only sympathy that you will get from me.

b_asinbeer 9 years ago

Here's always a helpful tip: Give the car keys away to the DD before you start drinking if you plan on meeting at a place. Because when you're drunk, you can rarely think straight.

italianprincess 9 years ago

I hope the guy who just hit my son's car this morning and fled the accident goes to jail the to prison.

italianprincess 9 years ago

Theres nothing worse then getting a phone call from you son at 2:30 in the morning and hearing " Mom, My car is wrecked ".

Thats the phone call I got this morning right when I went to bed. My son was dropping off his date from the Lawrence Free State Winter Formal and was on his way home. Driving down a road comes this guy driving all over the road, so my son moved over to avoid him. Well this guy got into my son's lane, so my son moved over again and the guy got in his lane again.

To make a long story short here.........My son was hit by some drunk guy freakin playing chicken in the snow. Front of the car completely smashed in and the guy gets out and fled the scene leaving my son, his friend, and the other guys passenger there.

Like I posted in the other post..........Drunk drivers shoudl have thier drivers license taken away, they should have to go to drunk driving school, should have to have a completely different color lisence plate then we do, and do time in jail.

Can you tell I'm pissed off here????????? Make the punishment fit the crime. My son's car is competely wrecked now and this guy ( I hope ) has insurance.

trinity 9 years ago

ip i'm sure sorry to hear about your son's accident! i'd be just livid, myself. i'm a mom too and to think of one of mine getting hit by a drunk driver-i can't even entertain the thought.

thank God, it wasn't worse than what it was! i am so glad your son is ok. they will get the dd. and it'll probably be somebody who has multiple dui's-and likely currently on probation!

enochville 9 years ago

I am not sure what penalties are appropriate for the first offense, but I want to put the fear of God into anyone who even thinks about getting behind the wheel drunk. Some posters talk about a 2nd DUI as if that was the second time they ever drove drunk. Really, people. They have almost certainly driven drunk more than 2 times; this is just the second time being drunk. And every time they drive without getting caught, they are made more bold and more likely to do it again.

I think after your second DUI within 7 years, you should have an image put on your driver's licence that indicates you have had 2 DUI's and it should stay on there for 7 years. Everyone should be carded ever time they buy alcohol and it should be illegal to sell alcohol to anyone with that image on their card. They should be treated like minors if they are even found drinking.

People who have had 2 DUI's within 7 years have demonstrated that they cannot be counted on to drink and not drive. Therefore, we will take away their priviledge to drink. Drinking and driving is a serious risk to the community.

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

I like what enochville has stated on the sale of alcoholic beverages to offenders in addition:

Number one gets a 6 months suspension of drivers license. $500.00 fine plus costs, forfeiture of tags,registration and mandatory cancellation of auto insurance. Time to begin making an impression.

Number two gets 1one year suspension of drivers license,forfeiture of auto tags and registration and mandatory cancellation of auto insurance. 2000.00 fine and 15 days. Mandatory attendance of AAA. If caught driving during this period: 1 year minimum security

Three or more same as number two in addition to 1 year in minimum security/detox treatment. Treatment is billed to defendant.

Bob Forer 9 years ago

"People need to know that, and I don't think the public is aware," said John Frydman, a local defense attorney who regularly handles DUI cases. "People are being charged with felonies all the time, when in the past it would have only been a misdemeanor."

Of course, Johnny. In the past society had a "wink" and look the other way attitutde towards drunk drivers. after finally realizing the havoc and misery they create for us all, society decided to take a stand. What's wrong with that. I commend you for upholding the rights of the accused. But that doesn't mean you have to be an apologist and mouthpiece for criminal elements.

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