For first offenses:
¢ .02 blood alcohol concentration - Zero Tolerance law for minors.
Suspended license for 30 days and restricted (can only drive to school or work and home) for 330 days.
¢ .08 - Suspended license for 30 days, restricted for 330.
¢ .15 - One year suspended license followed by one year of driving with an ignition interlock device. Offender must pay $165 for the device and installation.
Upon a second or third conviction, the device is still mandatory. A judge could mandate that it be installed for two, three or four years depending on the number of prior DUI offenses.
The third DUI is a felony no matter what level the BAC. After five or more, the license is permanently removed.
Seven one-hundredths of a point many not seem like much when it comes to blood alcohol concentration, but now it can be the difference between 30 days or one year for a suspended license.
But that's not all.
The Kansas Legislature passed tougher DUI penalties, which took effect July 1. Provisions of the .08 blood alcohol concentration, the state's legal limit, will remain in effect. That's a 30-day suspended license followed by a 330-day restricted license.
But now, if a driver is pulled over and has a BAC of .15 percent or greater, his license will be suspended for one year. After the suspension, the offender must pay to install an ignition interlock device in his car that will remain for another year.
The device is a built-in Breathalyzer calibrated to read the offender's breath. If a person fails the test, the car will not start. Success on the first try means the driver will be subject to a random test in the following 20 minutes. An incessant honking horn will give away a failed test while driving.
Also new is that anyone under age 21 who is driving drunk will be subject to the punishments for a .15 or greater BAC.
"For a number of years now, the average BAC of those persons driving under the influence has been about .16," said Michele Reese, program administrator for the Kansas Drunk Driving Prevention office in Topeka. "These new laws for the higher BAC are aimed at getting those who habitually drink and drive to be penalized."
There were 3,210 alcohol-related crashes in Kansas last year, and 99 of those were fatal, Reese said.
State Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, voted for the bill to enhance penalties, but he doesn't think it's adequate. He'd rather see more effective treatment options for repeat offenders, but he also doesn't think the Legislature should have stopped at .15 percent.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't pass an approach whereby people who have a significantly higher BAC are subject to some enhanced penalties," Davis said. "The Legislature elected not to take that approach."
One reason the Legislature didn't seek further penalties is because of the concern for county jail populations, which are already at a maximum, he said.
Chris Bortz, assistant bureau chief for the traffic safety division of the Kansas Department of Transportation, said Kansas is following many other states. He said the federal government has been pushing for the harsher laws with the incentive of additional funding if certain laws are in place.
For Lawrence resident Elaine Magill, 57, it doesn't matter what the BAC levels are because if the .08 percent limit doesn't curb drunken driving, then .15 percent won't either, she said.
"You know they're trying to get kids," she said. "I think it's too strict. Younger kids are going to drink not thinking about the consequences."
Two Kansas University students believe differently.
Jackie Wittlinger, 20, of Olathe, said there are too many options in Lawrence for Kansas University students to take advantage of, such as Safe Ride and walking, rather than driving while impaired.
"At 20, we think we're against the police, but with a DUI, it comes down to saving lives," Wittlinger said.
Her friend, Matty Price, 20, of Chicago, said, "If you're dumb enough to get a DUI, you should have some sort of repercussion."
As far as the ignition interlock device, Price said she suspects people may try to get around it, such as by driving a friend's car.
Jerry Gentry, operations manager for Kansas Ignition Interlock, contracted with Harris Auto Repair Inc., 811 E. 23rd, to install the interlock devices.
"I've done this for 18 years for the state of Kansas," Gentry said. "A lot of it is experience. I have had people that have tampered with it but caught them because the interlock will show a power disconnect."
Offenders pay for the $65 device and $100 for installation, he said. They also have to return their vehicle every 60 days to have the device recalibrated, according to state law.
The device is set to read .04, half the state's legal limit. Gentry said an offender has three chances to give a sober breath test. After failing those, the device locks them out for about 30 minutes before they can try again.
"You have to blow and hum at same time so you can't use some bogus air sample like compressed air or a balloon," he said.
He said a microprocessor records the exact day, date and time of the breath test and establishes a driving pattern, whether a vehicle is moving or not, and power connects or disconnects. The recorded information is passed on to district or municipal courts.
"The interlock is not a panacea for drinking and driving, but it does help in the fight against drinking and driving," Gentry said.