Archive for Thursday, October 22, 2009

Statehouse Live: Douglas County DUI case going to Kansas Supreme Court

October 22, 2009


— The Kansas Supreme Court is being asked by the Douglas County District Attorney’s office to consider a driving under the influence case, saying that the matter could have statewide consequences.

The issue is whether an Intoxilyzer reading of .08 within two hours of driving is sufficient evidence to get a DUI conviction.

The case stems from the Aug. 19, 2007 arrest of Paul Finch. A sheriff’s deputy stopped Finch for weaving in and out of his lane, according to court records.

He was taken to the county jail where he submitted to a breath test. The Intoxilyzer 5000 measured his breath to have .080 grams of alcohol content.

Finch’s atorney argued the .08 reading was insufficient to find him guilty of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. State District Court Judge Robert Fairchild agreed, granting a motion to acquit. Finch pleaded guilty to a remaining charge of failure to maintain a lane.

In his argument to the Kansas Supreme Court, Assistant District Attorney Mark Simpson says the DUI law is clear -- a person who is driving and has an alcohol concentration of .08 is violating the law.

But Janine Cox, with the Kansas Appellate Defender Office, argues that in test trials in the week before Finch’s arrest, the Intoxilyzer machine showed inconsistencies between the first and second tests. While the inconsistencies were small, they were enough to support an acquittal, she said.

She also argued that resolving this case was not crucial to the uniform administration of the law statewide, but only applied to Finch’s case.

Arguments in the case will be heard Wednesday by the state Supreme Court.


grimpeur 8 years, 5 months ago

Hey, you know what? Maybe the inconsistencies that opened this pathetic loophole allowed Finch to blow lower than his actual intoxication level. Maybe his actual content was ABOVE 0.08.

You want to play close to the fire? You'll get burned. Perhaps if Finch had used better judgement and made sure that he wasn't close to the limit, he wouldn't be looking at a DUI.

Here's an idea: don't drink and drive.

Good for the DA to pursue this. Here's hoping for a reversal.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

too bad the police don't have an on-the-spot device to catch impaired by marijuana drivers.

Practicality 8 years, 5 months ago


Three-fourths of Lawrence would lose there license if that happened.

Kyle Chandler 8 years, 5 months ago

Because SOOO many deaths occur from marijuana every year, especially in Douglas Co. right? Absurd.

I hope the guy gets off!! The DA should be trying to prosecute real cases......and guess what..... The Intoxilyzer 5000 is about as accurate as the Kansas City Star (well maybe not that bad). I wouldn't breath into it on a Sunday morning.

kjo_shorty 8 years, 5 months ago

"Three-fourths of Lawrence would lose there license if that happened."

I could only hope so. Then I might be able to drive somewhere in town without fear of someone pulling out in front of me, or nearly side-swiping me as they pass by, or running red lights. I'm almost convinced that before you can live in Lawrence, you are given a driving test; if you fail... you're in. If you pass, you will only be let in if someone else that passed has moved or died.

Practicality 8 years, 5 months ago

Marijuana and Driving

In recent years, drugs other than alcohol that act on the brain have increasingly been recognized as hazards to road traffic safety. Some of this research has been done in other countries or in specific regions within the United States, and the prevalence rates for different drugs vary accordingly. Overall, the research indicates that marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Other drugs also implicated include benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines

In a large study of almost 3,400 fatally injured drivers from three Australian states (Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia) between 1990 and 1999, drugs other than alcohol were present in 26.7 percent of the cases.7 These included cannabis (13.5 percent), opioids (4.9 percent), stimulants (4.1 percent), benzodiazepines (4.1 percent), and other psychotropic drugs (2.7 percent). Almost 10 percent of the cases involved both alcohol and drugs.

THC affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment, as well as sensations. Because these effects are multifaceted, more research is required to understand marijuana's impact on the ability of drivers to react to complex and unpredictable situations. However, we do know that:

A meta-analysis of approximately 60 experimental studies, including laboratory, driving simulator, and on-road experiments, found that behavioral and cognitive skills related to driving performance were impaired in a dose-dependent fashion with increasing THC blood levels.10 Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.

Research shows that impairment increases significantly when marijuana use is combined with alcohol. Studies have found that many drivers who test positive for alcohol also test positive for THC, making it clear that drinking and drugged driving are often linked behaviors.


I am not saying that Drunk Driving isn't the biggest problem, I am just saying it isn't the only problem.

rbwaa 8 years, 5 months ago

First, the combination of 'weaving in and out of his lane' with .08 intoxication level should be sufficient to convict on DUI. Second, 35 years ago i was stoned and riding with a stoned driver and my limited perceptions at the time told me we were extremely lucky to safely make it from topeka to lawrence. So i would say driving under the influence of marijuana is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Kyle Chandler 8 years, 5 months ago

NIce NIDA propaganda! Australian Studies????

I'll add that one to my collection.

Practicality 8 years, 5 months ago

Um, Kyle. That was just the one study I posted on there. There were many on that link alone. I fail to see why the National Institute on Drug Abuse is considered propoganda. I have a feeling you should add a lot of things to your collection.

bigdave 8 years, 5 months ago

budtugly (Anonymous) says…

.08 level is 3 beers at the free state brewery. Why not require or at least look at putting in blood /alc level machines at bars.

Set'm up Jacks has one and I see guys standing around it to see who can blow the highest before then drive home!!!!

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