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Archive for Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kansas’ new DUI law bringing big changes

December 4, 2011

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Ignition interlock devices help keep drunken drivers off the road

Jamie Krumsick of Guardian Interlock demonstrates how ignition interlock devices are installed and how they are used to ensure motorists aren't driving drunk. Enlarge video

Kansas enacted new drunken driving laws, effective July 1, making ignition interlock devices mandatory for even first-time offenders, creating a central repository to better track drunken drivers across the state and expanding treatment options.

The law also earned the state the highest possible rating from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for laws designed to combat drunken driving. Today, we check in with the people who deal with understanding — and implementing — the law on a daily basis. Here’s what we found:

Ignition interlock devices

DUI interlock device

DUI interlock device

For Ace Bail Bonds, the DUI law has been a big boost to business, said owner Steve Robson. Ace is one of a few local businesses that install the interlock devices, and Robson said they’ve seen installations increase significantly over the past couple of months.

Before the new law, Ace Bail Bonds would install a small number of the devices every month, but now, they’re averaging about a 100 monthly.

The biggest issue Robson has been hearing about usage of the devices is people who drink alcohol the night before and then fail the breath test in the morning. After three failures within 15 minutes, users of the interlock must pay a $25 fee to have the device reset.

Yearly cost of a first conviction for driving under the influence:

Interlock installation and fees: $917

Insurance increase: $60/month

Court/jail costs: $143.50

Treatment: $220 to $270

Fines and probation costs: $810 to $1150

Lawyer: $1,000 minimum

License reinstatement fee: $100

Refusal of breath test to find blood-alcohol level: $400

Total estimated cost range: $3,910 to $4,700

Costs will vary based on service providers chosen and whether someone applies for diversion. Information provided by Ace Bail Bonds, Professional Treatment Services, Douglas County Assistant District Attorney Greg Benefiel, the Ron King Agency and local attorney John Frydman.

Breathalyzer refusals

One of the disappointments with the law expressed by state Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, who helped craft the legislation, was that Breathalyzer, or alcohol-level breath test, refusal wasn’t criminalized. That is, it’s not a criminal — but rather a traffic — offense for someone to refuse a Breathalyzer during a traffic stop. While a person who refuses a Breathalyzer automatically loses his or her driver’s license for a year, it’s more difficult for prosecutors to obtain a DUI conviction without the test.

“Defendants (who refuse) are less likely to face criminal charges,” said Charles Branson, Douglas County District Attorney.

But some prosecutors, including Branson, have taken steps to close that loophole by working with police and judges to streamline the search warrant process for a blood test when probable cause exists.

Scott McPherson, county attorney for Rice County, said his office has copied the Douglas County model.

“It seems to be working well,” said McPherson, who estimates officers have requested search warrants for blood tests in about a dozen cases since the new law was implemented.

Whether district attorneys take the steps Branson and McPherson have to handle refusals is up to each district, and it’s unclear how many counties have implemented similar plans.

The takeaway for drivers who are pulled over, at least in Douglas County, is simple: A refusal will likely lead to a search warrant for a blood test, and refusing will bring about more consequences than if a driver consents. In addition to losing a license for a year, drivers who refuse will be assessed a $400 lab fee for the blood test.

Treatment

Kendall Heiman, addictions counselor at Professional Treatment Services, performs the substance abuse assessments and evaluations required for all DUI offenders. Judges use the assessments when deciding whether to order further treatment.

The biggest change with the new law, Heiman said, is an opening up of state funding for offenders who are tagged in assessments as needing additional treatment. Since the law has passed, Heiman said the treatment needs for offenders who come through her door vary.

For DUI offenders who don’t present the markers for a substance abuse disorder, their treatment plan will consist of the assessment and follow-up at an eight-hour alcohol awareness and information course, Heiman said.

But when someone fits the criteria for further treatment, Heiman can recommend outpatient treatment, which can range up to 20 hours of group and individual treatment per week.

Heiman said they’ve seen success at this stage of treatment, which can provide the wake-up call to people that they have a substance abuse problem.

“There’s this moment of clarity” for offenders, Heiman said.

In rare cases, Heiman can recommend inpatient treatment, and the new law allocates state funding for offenders who don’t have insurance and can’t afford inpatient treatment.

Gary Lee, director of services at Valeo, the Topeka-based substance abuse treatment facility, said they haven’t yet begun to see DUI offenders sent to their 40-bed facility based on the new law, but he expects to in the coming years.

The center provides a wide-range of treatment, including detox, group therapy and individual counseling for their clients, who typically stay about two weeks.

Comments

asixbury 2 years, 4 months ago

One BIG difference about abortion vs DUI: like it or not, abortion is LEGAL, and drunk driving is just plain stupid and illegal. I don't want to turn this into another abortion debate. Stick to the topic, Can't have it both ways.

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asixbury 2 years, 4 months ago

One BIG difference about abortion vs DUI: like it or not, abortion is LEGAL, and drunk driving is just plain stupid and illegal. I don't want to turn this into another abortion debate. Stick to the topic, Can't have it both ways.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 4 months ago

Is there a form of Godwin for abortion? What should we call it? Perhaps the Sanger award?

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 4 months ago

The guy that had a couple of beers and headed home has no intension on killing anyone, but that woman that goes into the abortion clinic has every intension of taking a human life. Why are the laws different? The guy that had a beer is treated like a criminal for upwards of 2 years, while the woman goes along her merry way after taking a life. Go figure.

Why don't we do this, neuter the woman. This would serve as an "Interlock" device for those who don't use birth control. Seems only fair to me.

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puddleglum 2 years, 4 months ago

these things are silly, you can just jump the signal and avoid using the interlock altogether...a bunch of videos on you tube on how to do it. just another revenue trick for sleazeballs preying on government programs. here's an idea, if you are caught drunk driving, the policeman gets to drive a railroad spike through your hand. If you get caught a second time (look at the hand for scars or hole) they cut off your hand. If you get caught a third time, maybe battery acid in the eye socket. I dunno, just thinking.

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cletus26 2 years, 4 months ago

let's hope that this plan works.. i wish they had a device that locked the car up when it sensed high levels of alcohol; now that would be worth it. I think that they need to hike up the reset fee though. Make the fee to reset the device $50-$100, that will make them hard core drinkers really think about what they are doing. They may even run out of money for drinking; isn't that a thought!!!

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 4 months ago

I personally know of a rather interesting case that happed some years ago, and I am not making this up, not a bit. It happened in a small town, things like this happen only in small towns with a good old boy network. I'll leave out all the names, although I do know every one of them.

There was a young man who had quite a promising career ahead of him. I believe he had finished law school, and in fact, was the city municipal judge. At the time this event occurred, he was the youngest judge in the state of Kansas. So those of you who are good at research can figure out exactly who I am talking about.

He was about 24 to 26, I don't know exactly, and had a girlfriend that was about 18. He was driving about 8 to 9 miles away from town when he lost control of his pickup and drove off of a perfectly straight highway and into the ditch.

After the crash, he was not badly hurt at all. But his young girlfriend, who had been wearing no clothes at all when the accident occurred (and the rumor mill had it that she had been riding on his lap), was thrown through the back window of the pickup, crushed, and died on the scene.

The county sheriff soon arrived. Again, it's the good old boy network, unless you're from a very small town and part of the inside clique, you're never going to understand.

The ambulance took the dead girl's body to the hospital. I don't know why, they should have just gone straight to the morgue.

The municipal judge rode to town with the sheriff in the patrol car, who was a buddy of his. Via the highway route, it was about 8 or 9 miles to the hospital to have a blood test taken, which is required in all fatal accidents.

But the sheriff kept remembering errands he had to do on the way. In fact, there were so many errands to be done that it took five hours to get to the hospital.

And the municipal judge STILL FAILED the blood alcohol test!

Needless to say, his political career was over.

And every once in a while, when visiting my relative's graves, I visit hers also. She was cheated out of so many years of her life by someone she trusted.

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beaujackson 2 years, 4 months ago

Drunk driving would be greatly reduced if everyone leaving a bar after midnight had to take the breathalyzer test (with a cop standing by).

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toe 2 years, 4 months ago

With every new law mandating the purchase of equipment or services, see the power of a business lobby.

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Hooligan_016 2 years, 4 months ago

What company/corporation is installing these devices? Is it only one company/corporation that has a monopoly on installations? How much are they receiving in kick-backs from this?

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asixbury 2 years, 4 months ago

I like to drink at dinner, but I do not drink if I have to drive. Be responsible; don't drive after any amount of alcohol. It doesn't cost that much for a taxi. If you can't afford a taxi, how can you afford the expensive alcohol you're consuming? My husband's little sister was killed by a drunk driver when she was only 7. The drunk said he "only had a few beers." Tell that to the young girl who's life was cut short before it even really began! I have no sympathy or respect for people who put other lives in danger just so they can drink. Drink at home, or take a taxi!

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

A drunk driver killed my uncle. He was a great guy, not the drunk, my uncle. The drunk kept saying his car usually drove great, it always drove him home. He didn't know what happened. He claimed it was some other drivers fault. He was a great driver, never had an accident that was his fault. Lots of witnesses, It was the drunk's fault. What a pity the drunks feel it is an imposition on them , unfair to them, to actually make a law that one shouldn't drink and drive. I think the law should be expanded to drinking and handling a gun. Lose your guns, money and freedom if you drink and shoot.

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justanotherhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Funny that some of the people who are arguing against are admittedly the ones who have a problem with drunk driving, 1. Interlock devices don't shut the car down while you are driving, even if a test is failed. No need to worry about the traffic. 2. MADD volunteers and paid employees are generally doing it because they have lost a family member to a "innocent", "barely over the limit", "person who would have been worse off texting", "over fined", "over persecuted" alcohol impaired driver that has taken their husband, father, brother, uncle, mom, sister, grandma or baby from them. So maybe their objective if you really think about it is more than preventing you from having your two beers at the brewery and more about helping to stop the gut wrenching pain from being experienced by another "innocent" family. 3. If a hefty traffic ticket was enough to warn/penalize a first time offender, wouldn't we have seen a decline in multiple offenses over the last ten years or more? 4. The punishment is not the same for a .09 as it is at a .24, good point. The penalty is about double for an offender that blows >.15 as it is for .08-.149. This has already been taken care of. 5. License suspension obviously doesn't work or the state wouldn't be overwhelmed with driving on suspended charges.

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lawrencedad 2 years, 4 months ago

This is definitely a move in the right direction. To me the fact that someone has two offenses and still has a drivers license is ridiculous. Who cares that it will "mess with your life", someone willing to put innocent people at risk for the sake of a good time deserves to have their life "messed with". The logic of thirdplanet that he hasn't hurt or killed anyone yet is absurd, maybe we shouldn't do anything until these idiots that choose to drive drunk kill someone. If you choose to go out and drink find another way home. If you don't know the difference between a $10 cab ride and $4000 fine then you shouldn't be behind the wheel any way.

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purplesage 2 years, 4 months ago

I do not drink and I am opposed to the consumption of beverage alcohol. And I don't mean only for myself. That's just for perspective in what I am about to write.

It is all about the money. While people of all economic classes are nabbed for driving while intoxicated, I would expect that younger drivers, lower socio-economic group drivers, and habitual offenders make up the lion's share of the arrests.

The court system extracts such large sums of money from people who get caught in the cog that it is very difficult for them to pay and get out of the system. $400 for a blood test? Get real and charge the $40 it probably costs to process. Wonder what kind of cash Ace is pulling in doing 3 ignition interlock devices a day? Then there is the license reinstatement, etc.. to say nothing of fines and probation fees.

It shouldn't be pleasant to be caught breaking the law. But it shouldn't be so burdensome that people are driven to despair. (By the way, that's a major reason people turn to alcohol and other drugs.)

I'm for treatment and treating people redemptively unless they prove recalcitrant.

Going after the "drug dealers" ought to include the bartenders who legally distribute an addictive and destrucittve drug every day.

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billbodiggens 2 years, 4 months ago

"while the real problem will go unsolved"

OK third rock , if keeping alcohol impaired people from driving is not the real problem, what is? It would appear that a two time DUI situation would indicate a "real problem." If for nothing else, a real problem of denial. Maybe you and math boy could car pool. One to drink and drive and one to whip up on anyone trying to stop you. A true American? Something like that "true American" John Wayne. An actor who was notorious for his drunk and rowdy reverie.

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1029 2 years, 4 months ago

MADD is disgusting. A bunch of crusaders trying to fill a void in their otherwise meaningless lives. I wish all their supporters nothing but the worst.

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gccs14r 2 years, 4 months ago

How many of you missed the part of the article where one of the companies that installs the interlocks gets lots of calls from people who are still drunk in the morning when they try to drive to work?

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jgkojak 2 years, 4 months ago

Having no sympathies for drunk drivers...

1) Huge civil liberties violation to subject you to a punishment for protecting your 4th Amendment (search and seizure) and 5th Amendment (self-incrimination) rights.

2) Those with a BAC of .08 to 1.0 who are first timers should be given a hefty traffic ticket/fine/not be allowed to drive home. $400 in ticket/court/towing costs should be enough of a warning/punishment.

3) Those who habitually rack up DUIs, or have BAC >1.0 should have increasing penalties, etc.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 4 months ago

Eventually, all new cars will require breath tests before starting.

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somedude20 2 years, 4 months ago

The other week on NPR they were talking drunk driving and the laws and I could have sworn that they said that the mom who started MADD became angry with MADD and became a lobbyist for the alcohol industry

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Beth Bird 2 years, 4 months ago

The article states: "Breathalyzer, or alcohol-level breath test, refusal wasn’t criminalized. That is, it’s not a criminal — but rather a traffic — offense for someone to refuse a Breathalyzer during a traffic stop. While a person who refuses a Breathalyzer automatically loses his or her driver’s license for a year," and "A refusal will likely lead to a search warrant for a blood test, and refusing will bring about more consequences than if a driver consents. In addition to losing a license for a year, drivers who refuse will be assessed a $400 lab fee for the blood test."


What if a person does this and the blood result tests show they were not intoxicated? Does the county pick up that tab? I am not advocating for drunk driving but I think that the idea that you will lose your license for saying no to a test, regardless of the result, is wrong.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 4 months ago

I'd be a bit more worried about the fact that if you're going right along with traffic flow on the turnpike at 80 mph, and then suddenly your breathalyzer announces that it's time for a retest. You can't do that while driving, so what is likely to happen is that your car will quit, and then stop completely right in the middle of your lane.

Everyone that is doing 80 mph right behind you will have to slow to a stop while you take your breathalyzer test, then after you pass it, you can start up your car and proceed on your way.

Never mind any crashing sounds you might have heard in the background while you were taking your test, they definitely were not your fault, so proceed on your way and don't worry about them at all.

And, if the driver behind you hits the back of your car, he better hope he's got a very good insurance policy, because the person behind is always responsible for an accident. The law is very clear on that point.

P.S. Be sure to drive a great big vehicle, just in case the drivers behind are not really quick to hit the brakes.

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pizzapete 2 years, 4 months ago

I think we would be better served to raise the limit at which one is considered drunk and restrict anyone over that limit to using a moped for a year.

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imastinker 2 years, 4 months ago

What a joke.....

Mandating terrible consequences for first time offenders of a law that is very poorly enforced is a terrible way to do this.

If they wanted results they would talk about the issues and try to educate people rather than punish them. Just once I'd like to see MADD show up downtown on a saturday or at memorial stadium on game day and let people blow into a breathalyzer to see what the effect of alcohol really is on their judgement. Instead they try to make terrible punishments for the small percentage of people that actually get caught.

There's a big difference between driving at .09 and .24. Why is the punishment the same? Why is there a terrible punishment for people who made a bad decision and drove at .09 when the punishment is the same for people who are so drunk that they can't stay awake or walk?

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drillsgt 2 years, 4 months ago

go after all the known drug dealers in lawrence instead....

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budtugly 2 years, 4 months ago

Two beers at 8% alcohol at any of your local brewery's in 1 hour and you are legally drunk. How many out there have driven away knowing if you get stopped your license is gone for a year. Probably about $3000 also. Lets just close all bars and brewery's and nip the problem in the bud. Oh wait people work there...

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labmonkey 2 years, 4 months ago

Any change that should be made to DUI laws should include adding texting while driving as a DUI offense. Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk.

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Adrienne Sanders 2 years, 4 months ago

IMO taking away people's licenses is a better punishment than all of this other nonsense. Mostly this is just a way for the state to make more money. Not that I think it's the least bit okay for people to drive drunk... I just don't see this as much of a deterrent.

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kernal 2 years, 4 months ago

Good luck to you thirdplanet.

Oh, and please sign the donor card on the back of your driver's license. You may also want to carry a do not recusitate form with you so you don't have to live 20 years paralized from the neck down.

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bootlegger 2 years, 4 months ago

License reenstatement fees are or were 450 dollars....

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thirdplanet 2 years, 4 months ago

I won't DGL, all my DUI'S I was pulled over on technicalities (break light out, my plate sticker was stolen once), not for swerving or driving poorly.

And I am a great American, and I know this because i support judicial discretion, while these new laws and the losers in MADD want to destroy it

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thirdplanet 2 years, 4 months ago

ridiculous, would hate to have one of those Breathalyzer-locks on my car after only my first DUI (I've racked up two so far, no b-lock bs).

I've never put anyone at risk with my drunk driving and the punishments for them have reflected this fact. Still have my license, no jail time except my initial arrest, though it has cost me some money. Those b-locks could really mess with your life.

Now if you're a single digit above the limit they treat you like an attempted murderer, with no discretion from a judge at all. Mandating punishments from laws instead of judges is a blunt tool in fighting drunk driving, while the real problem will go unsolved.

MADD should all be told to go to hell and is a prime example on why women shouldn't be granted the privilege of voting.

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