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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Legislature breathes life into revision of Kansas DUI law

Matt Weidenbach, Lawrence, runs a computer test on a breathalyzer after doing an ignition interlock installation on a vehicle at Ace Bail Bonds Inc. on Thursday. A bill that was introduced in the Kansas House in the last session would make it mandatory for those convicted of a DUI to use an ignition interlock system.

Matt Weidenbach, Lawrence, runs a computer test on a breathalyzer after doing an ignition interlock installation on a vehicle at Ace Bail Bonds Inc. on Thursday. A bill that was introduced in the Kansas House in the last session would make it mandatory for those convicted of a DUI to use an ignition interlock system.

June 15, 2009

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New DUI Commission

A Douglas County prosecutor will be taking a look at the state’s laws related to driving under the influence.

Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Gregory Benefiel recently was named as one of the 23 members of the Kansas DUI Commission.

The group will study a proposed revision of all Kansas DUI laws, which could include increasing penalties for repeat offenders and creating a new offense of aggravated DUI.

The commission’s first scheduled meeting is July 1.

The group will be required to submit a preliminary report by opening of the 2010 session of the Legislature in January, and a final report by the start of the 2011 session.

Kansas could toughen up DUI laws

More Kansas drivers convicted of multiple DUIs could be forced to install ignition locking breathalyzers. Enlarge video

It’s closing time at a Lawrence bar, and one patron who’s had a few too many desperately searches for someone who is sober enough to breathe into his ignition interlock device in order to get his car started.

He eventually gives up and walks home.

“That right there could’ve saved one life,” said Steve Robson, Ace Ignition Interlock co-owner. “That one guy was drunk enough that he couldn’t get his car started, couldn’t figure out how to get it started, so he had to walk home.”

The number of installations of ignition interlock devices is increasing in Kansas as the Kansas Legislature keeps tightening the state’s DUI laws.

According to Marcy Ralston, chief of the Kansas Driver Control Bureau, there are currently 2,873 drivers, mainly repeat DUI offenders, who are required by law to have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars. That’s up 45 percent from the year before.

But if Mothers Against Drunk Driving had its way, that number would be much higher.

MADD is pushing for legislation in all 50 states that would require ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunken drivers, including first-time offenders.

“We want to keep people from repeating these offenses,” MADD state policy specialist Frank Harris said.

MADD started the campaign in 2006. This week, Hawaii became the 11th state to make ignition interlocks mandatory with any DUI conviction.

Harris said since New Mexico enacted its interlock laws in 2002, the rate of drunken drivers re-offending in that state has decreased 65 percent.

There are only three states that don’t require the devices at all: Alabama, South Dakota and Vermont.

Kansas requirements

Kansas law requires anyone convicted of two or more DUIs to first have his or her license suspended for one year. Then, in order to begin driving again, an ignition interlock must be installed on the person’s vehicle for a minimum of one year. In some instances, first-time offenders must also use the device: if the offender’s blood-alcohol content was above .15, if the offender is under age 21, or if the offender refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test.

But a bill introduced in the Kansas House in February would have made it mandatory for anyone convicted of a DUI to use an ignition interlock and would increase the amount of time repeat offenders are required to use the device. Under the proposed legislation, anyone convicted of five or more DUIs would be required to use an ignition interlock for life.

“The problem with that first year, you’re under suspension and people aren’t able to get to work,” Robson said. “So they’re talking about shortening up your suspension period and letting you have this equipment for a longer period of time; that way you can still drive to work, still make a living.”

Robson’s company, Ace Ignition Interlock, travels around the state installing anywhere from 10 to 15 ignition interlocks every week. Robson said the proposed legislation could cause that number to triple.

“I think it would be a big boost,” Robson said. “I think a lot of people will chance that first DUI. Most people, I hope after that first one, they get a clue, and they wake up and don’t chance that second one.”

How it works

The device is simple. It’s installed into the ignition wiring under a vehicle’s dashboard. The driver is required to blow into a plastic tube in a handset, about the size of a remote control. If the unit detects any alcohol above the .025 level — not the legal limit of .08 — the car will not start.

The unit also requires rolling retests at random intervals, prohibiting a drunken driver from having someone sober blow into the device to start the car, then getting in and driving off.

Robson said he receives few complaints, other than the costs. The equipment costs $75 to install and then the driver must pay $67 a month after that. The unit also has to be recalibrated every 60 days or the vehicle will shut down.

Most advocates of the ignition interlocks say it’s a small price to pay to possibly save a life.

“I’ve got a man who is 90 years old on this equipment, all the way down to 18-year-old kids,” Robson said. “It’s pretty protective as far as keeping drunk drivers off the road. I think it helps.”

Comments

igby 4 years, 10 months ago

The balloon idea!

That's a cost effective way to beat it, don't you think?

$00.25 cents

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totalDbag 4 years, 10 months ago

OPP, we need to hang out! It has always been my opinion that something can't really be considered a crime if you don't get caught. It's like the tree falling in the woods thing, if no one is there to hear it, there's no sound. Or the bear in the woods, something like that. Either way, if I choose to drink and drive and suffer the possible consequences (nothing) that's my prerogative. And if you've ever had a DUI, you know it's not a laughing matter, cause It costs big bucks. But don't you think if it were really a serious crime there would be a serious punishment? But please, If cops really wanted to catch drunk drivers, all they would have to do is sit and watch people stumble out of the bars and into their cars. Isn't there probable cause if you walk out of a bar at 2am and get in a car? OPP, we definitely need to hang out!

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notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad (Anonymous) says…

"The thing is, if I have one of these, don't I just ask my co-dependent enabling wife to switch cars for the night?"

Just a guess, since I'm not too familiar with the Kansas DUI laws, but I'm betting that getting caught driving a vehicle without an interlock can get you in large-sized trouble, like getting a DUI while you're already on suspension for a DUI.

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Calliope877 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't think the Kansas DUI laws are too harsh compared to other state laws; however, they were effective enough to scare the hell out of me when I was a dumb@ss and got my first and LAST DUI.

opp -- I think you have a problem. 3 DUIs in 1 year?!!! How the hell can you afford that?!! Is your mother paying for your fines, attorney fees, court costs, etc.? She must be, otherwise, if you were paying your own way maybe you wouldn't be so nonchalant about it. It's people like you that have made the laws what they are. Get some help.

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Steven Gaudreau 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't think this is meant to be a fail safe gadget, just another deterent.

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satar 4 years, 10 months ago

Opp, Your an alcoholic. admit it.

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macon47 4 years, 10 months ago

if a serious drinker is stupid enough to drive a car with this device he needs to be in jail too many ways to avoid this system like drive another car?

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 10 months ago

Opp has intergenerational issues that won't be resolved by us on these boards, I think.

The thing is, if I have one of these, don't I just ask my co-dependent enabling wife to switch cars for the night?

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oohmgrover 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure why Opp thinks that the thing we have an issue with is her being underaged...

Times like these that I wish they could subpoena IP addresses and go find that idiot and teach her a lesson. Or at least give her one of the interlock devices that has a rolling retest. Someone should do something before she gets an innocent person killed.

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shortone 4 years, 10 months ago

Excuse me Opp, there's a difference between drinking a beer and getting 3 dui's in one year. Can we say problem?

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opp 4 years, 10 months ago

Indeed she does, she works nights. Thanks for the reminder, or I may have forgot. If a person can ingest deadly chemicals into their body and die for their country when they are 18, then they should be able to drink a beer.

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Kat Christian 4 years, 10 months ago

18 is a minor. Isn't the drinking age 21? OMG people like OPP make you think how many are like them in this world. Your mother needs a wake up call.

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shortone 4 years, 10 months ago

Opp, alcoholism is a serious disease. I think you and your mother should seriously be educated on the subject since you sound very flippant about your experiences.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

persevering_gal (Anonymous) says…

"If they are too harsh, why are there still DUI offenders?"

You can make the flu illegal, but no matter how harsh the penalties for a first offense, people are still gonna' cough.

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persevering_gal 4 years, 10 months ago

KansasVoter:

KansasVoter (Anonymous) says…

"Driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone has been proven to be more dangerous than driving with a BAC of .08, so until it's illegal to use a cell phone while driving I think that anyone who wants to increase DUI penalties is a hypocrite. The penalties for DUI in Kansas are already too stiff, so it's nice to see that the legislature is thinking about decreasing the time that licenses are suspended."

While you make an excellent point in terms of cell phones being more dangerous, I highly disagree with your statement about being a hypocrite when one wants to increase DUI penalties. If they are too harsh, why are there still DUI offenders? Usually when one breaks the rules, it's usually due to a consequence that is not effective enough (i.e., small fine, some jail time, not getting caught, etc.).

Also note that both DUI's AND cell phone usage while driving is dangerous, especially the texting aspect. Whether or not the state decides to work on the drinking laws prior to cell phone laws is not being hypocritical. Either way, the state will eventually have to deal with them both. If you are not a DUI offender, then what difference does it make that the punishment increases? These devices are only trying to help protect innocent civilians and help out law enforcement who obviously cannot be at all places at once.

Bring on the devices!

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opp 4 years, 10 months ago

I was not a minor at the time...I was 18/19. My mom is a firm believer that if you can die for your country, you should be able to crack a beer. She had no problem buying beer / alcohol for me, and I had no problem drinking it.

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july241983 4 years, 10 months ago

"MADD is pushing for legislation in all 50 states that would require ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunken drivers, including first-time offenders."


Acutally, I heard a radio interview with the president of MADD, who stated that every car in the US should have an interlock device, regardless of whether the driver has ever had a DUI. He argued that an interlock device in every car would be more effective than higher punishments. And, while he is probably right, he is also somewhat of a fascist. This of course is the man our president just named to head the National Highway Transportation Administration.

http://www.theagitator.com/2009/04/20/madd-exec-to-head-up-federal-highway-safety-administration/

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 10 months ago

Some are still treating drunk driving as a joke. Actions have consequences. Deal with it. oop maybe your mother should have to deal with the police for her part in your drinking. Or has she? It is illegal to let your child who is a minor drink at home.

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lowrentsKS 4 years, 10 months ago

drinking and driving is for morons anyway. just do us a favor and only drive from 2-4am so you just kill off each other.

legalize it.

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topflight 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey Kansasvoter, ask the family of the deceased mother and child if this four time DUI loser if the DUI penalties should be decreased. Your ignorance amazes me. He deserves to sit in a jail cell the rest of his life.

Please see the attached link http://www.ktka.com/news/2008/oct/13/kansans_advocate_tougher_dui_laws_following_deaths/

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WHY 4 years, 10 months ago

Can you blow up a balloon before going to the bar and use it later.

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opp 4 years, 10 months ago

As my family likes to say, "It's 5 O'clock somewhere"!

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flyin_squirrel 4 years, 10 months ago

It is good that it randomly requires rolling retests but how safe is it to be driving and have to blow in a tube on your dash?

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mightyquin 4 years, 10 months ago

Opp, did your mother not like you or something? Why would any mom allow their child to drive under the influence? How many DUI's have you had since? Sounds like you come from a family of problem drinkers.

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opp 4 years, 10 months ago

When I was 19, I had 3 DUI's in one year, and accepted a plea. I had to have one of these interlock things in my car. Since my mom let me drink at home, when I wanted to leave, she would blow in the breathalyzer and away I'd go. There is a way around those things. I talk from experience.

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ralphralph 4 years, 10 months ago

What a racket! Get the Legislature to make your service mandatory! For more people! For a longer time! Whee-hee!

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notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

The real problem with this is it assumes the person will only drive their own vehicle. I assume there are severe penalties for driving another car without the interlock; however, it's pretty much been demonstrated that repeat offenders will drive while suspended for a DUI, which also carries heavy penalties. (The drunk driver that killed Cari Lightner, daughter of MADD's founder, was driving while under suspension at the time.) I agree this makes it more difficult, but not impossible.

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justanothervoice 4 years, 10 months ago

While I fully agree with this law, I am just curious to know what happens when someone can not afford the $67 a month it costs to use this.

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KansasVoter 4 years, 10 months ago

Driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone has been proven to be more dangerous than driving with a BAC of .08, so until it's illegal to use a cell phone while driving I think that anyone who wants to increase DUI penalties is a hypocrite. The penalties for DUI in Kansas are already too stiff, so it's nice to see that the legislature is thinking about decreasing the time that licenses are suspended.

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redmoonrising 4 years, 10 months ago

After reading the first paragraph, I was glad to see later that it requires the rolling retests. Otherwise, they would all be seeking someone dumb enough to breathe into it for them and still get behind the wheel. Maybe the expense and the trouble of going through this all the time will have an impact as well but....

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