Archive for Friday, July 1, 2011

County will handle DUI cases until cities pass ordinances to match new, stricter state law

July 1, 2011


Douglas County prosecutors on Friday were preparing to handle an influx of drunken-driving cases normally prosecuted in municipal courts as Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora were still researching the effects of the state’s new DUI law.

The law passed overwhelmingly last session, and legislators touted its steeper fines and the requirement of ignition interlock devices for all first-time offenders. But Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said Friday — as the new law took effect at midnight — it appeared cities would need to pass new ordinances to be able to prosecute DUI cases in municipal court and adopt the same penalties the state now has.

“It will take at bare minimum 30 days to get this rectified,” Branson said.

Under Kansas law, cities can prosecute first- and second-offense DUI cases that occur in their jurisdiction in their own municipal courts as long as the penalties are not less severe than the state law. For traffic laws, most cities adopt a standard traffic offense code produced by the Kansas League of Municipalities, and Branson said that now cities likely have DUI penalties less severe than the state.

“If ordinances aren’t substantially in compliance with the state statute, they’re no good, and that’s where we find ourselves,” Branson said.

He said the cities could go through a process to change their ordinances, but with publishing requirements on new ordinances that could take up to a month. So his office was preparing to file charges in all new DUI cases in Douglas County District Court.

Branson said Baldwin City and Eudora likely only produce about a dozen cases per month, but in Lawrence that could mean a dozen or so cases per week that would be filed and processed in district court creating an increased workload for prosecutors and court staffers.

Chad Sublet, a city staff attorney, said Friday that city leaders were still reviewing information about the effect of the new law.

State Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, who was an architect of the new law, said he believed cities still had authority to prosecute DUI cases in municipal court with the penalties under the new law without passing a new ordinance.

“I think the court probably has that jurisdiction to go ahead and do that,” Owens said. “They may disagree with me, and if they chose to disagree, that is a defensible position as well.”

Owens did defend the new law saying it would have a significant effect on targeting DUI offenders, but he also acknowledged there were some “unintended consequences” and “glitches” that likely would need to be addressed.

He said there is also a disagreement about whether municipal courts have to pay $250 collected in each DUI case to the state’s community corrections department. The funding was needed to help pay for the cost of enforcing penalties on repeat DUI offenders, Owens said, but the way the law, as it was drafted, only mentions district courts as being responsible for collecting the $250 payment in each case.

“There are just some things that fell through the cracks that we need to fix,” Owens said. “And we will be addressing that from the get-go next session.”

The next session of the Kansas Legislature begins in January 2012.


50YearResident 2 years, 9 months ago

Alcohol vs Speeding as cause of traffic fatalities. Also Alcohol deaths while drivimg is declinning. This is an interesting comparison. 1st time speeders need to have a govoner placed on their car after the first ticket. to limit maximum speed of vehicle. It's only fair to control speeders as well as DUI's


andreamg 2 years, 9 months ago

There is a simple way to stop all the whining....DONT DRINK AND DRIVE!!! Dont let friends drink and Drive. People that drink and drive need to have penalties and it should not matter whether it is the district court or munciple court. You would think that you would want your streets to be safer from the idiots that drive after or while drinking and make sure they get hit hard for being dumb....but at the same time...use the same amount of attention on the other idiots out there such as the speeders, theives, felons and so on....


ivalueamerica 2 years, 9 months ago

I am all in favor of anything that makes the penalties stiffer for drunk drivers and things that keep drunk drivers from behind the wheels.

I would like to see what legislatures have stock or any financial interest in the companies that will provide the devices for the cars.

I find it also interesting that the GOP spear-headed the federal law that requires no unfunded federal mandates to the states, but the same GOP is not concerned about offering unfunded local mandates by the state government.


50YearResident 2 years, 9 months ago

"First time offenders" Why stop with maximising the DUI laws and extend it to speeders. petty thiefs, felonies, juvenile offenders, fraud and the list goes on and on. Give them the max sentense with no probation. Mabe that will stop all crimes. Murderers, no more appeals for you, straight to the death chamber. Straight to jail, no bail. That sounds like a good police slogan. "Straight to Jail, no Bail"


verity 2 years, 9 months ago

While the writing and implementation of this law apparently leaves something to be desired, I have no problem with throwing the book at first-time offenders. A person injured or killed by a first-time offender will be just as injured or dead as if it was a tenth-time offender. Maybe it will finally send the message---don't drive when you are intoxicated.

". . . cruel and unusual punishment due to the intended humiliation of having to give a body fluid . . ."---what are you talking about?


wysiwyg69 2 years, 9 months ago

Like the ol' saying goes, "If you can't do the time don't do the crime". First time convictions are enough reason for me to bust em' with the interlock system.


Liberty275 2 years, 9 months ago

OK, raise the fines. Make them do some jail time. But these interlocks on first offenders are a joke that a monkey with a friend can bypass and worse yet cruel and unusual punishment due to the intended humiliation of having to give a body fluid (air being a fluid) to start your car. Why don't we write a big "D" on their foreheads with an industrial sharpie too. If we run out of sharpies, maybe we can pin little fabric stars on their chests. So we can keep an eye on them. Don't we need to keep our eye on semi-literate frat boys that drank too much before they figured out how much was enough?

Second offense and on, yeah, hit them with the interlocks. They have proven to drive drunk habitually enough that reasonable suspicion is satisfied, justifying the unusual punishment in order to prevent drunkards with no respect for the law from driving.


pigballin 2 years, 9 months ago

The state legislators like Tim Owens are scoundrels. If they truly wanted to curb DUI there would be 3.2% beer only in the state. The hypocracy is rampant in state gov't. The students at football tailgates will be prime meat for the new law. Someone probably lobbied Owens that sells the interlocking devices. I think he and possibly others might have to be investigated to see if there is a connection.

Also i hope people have an opportunity to get out of this high taxed state. One of the highest in the nation. And it touts itself as conservative. The state ,city,county and school taxes is killing the family to survive the down turn in the economy. Over employment and employ benefits that far exceed the private sector. Vote the weasels out.


Paula Kissinger 2 years, 9 months ago

YH has nothing to do with this unless they were selling stolen goods while DUI. Sheesh !

Asinine ? Would you be saying this if your son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father, friend or relative was killed or permanently injured due to an individual DUI ? I don't think so. Cost to the "kids" families ? Only if they are enablers. "Kids" DUI ? "Kids" can pay the fines and associated charges. Perhaps 1st time offenders will stay that way and learn a lesson. That would be refreshing.

All you police haters need to wake up, straighten up and have some respect for those just trying to do their job. Effecting a DUI arrest is not a ton of fun, BTW. You have to deal with the jackass being arrested and do tons of paperwork and, routinely, get cleaned up afterward from the fight or the vomiting or the spitting or multiple other nasty instances. Getting a drunk off the street is a police officer's protect you...the ungrateful. Want to it to the legislators. They're the ones that make the laws. The police just enforce them.


50YearResident 2 years, 9 months ago

"The law passed overwhelmingly last session, and legislators touted its steeper fines and the requirement of ignition interlock devices for all first-time offenders".

This has to be the most asinine law ever passed. I hope the first offenders that have to install ignition locks on their cars are all legislators and sheriff departments, sons and daughters. This will involve thousands of kids in Kansas and at a exorbitant cost to their families for "first time offenders" no less.


Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

And who pays for this?

Isn't this a typical example of how the State passes legislation--whether good or bad--that costs money to implement. But rather than appropriating the money necessary, the State dumps this burden on localities, keeping the State budget "balanced" but forcing the city/country treasuries to come up with the cash. And leaving taxpayers who rail against "out of control spending" including spending on things they "approved" when they voted for their legislators.


captainzeep 2 years, 9 months ago

State Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park who was an architect of the new law = completely incompetent. Can't you even draft a coherent law? "probably", "maybe", "glitches"? This is your job, learn it or GTFO.


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