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.


captainzeep 6 years, 5 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.

Jimo 6 years, 5 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.

50YearResident 6 years, 5 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.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Years ago I heard of a situation where the parents at an elementary school asked the police department to enforce the speed limit near the schools where they had to pick up their children, because there were simply to many vehicles speeding through the area.

So the police complied with their request, and began issuing speeding citations there by the bucketload.

It wasn't long before there was a request to be more lenient with the speeders, because the citations were just about all being issued to - parents picking up their children there!

BlackVelvet 6 years, 5 months ago

Requiring ignition interlocks for all first time offenders may steem a bit much, but as it stands now, there doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent to keep folks from offending. A few hours in jail and a brief suspension, and pay lawyer fees and court costs? Too many people don't think anything of this. Too many repeat offenders. I wouldn't want to be saddled with having an ignition interlock on my car were I to get a DUI, but I'd be even more upset if a drunk driver were to injure or kill a member of my family. And I'll bet some of those to do injure or kill are indeed first time offenders.

Paula Kissinger 6 years, 5 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 6 years, 5 months ago

Pit bull, what if your kids or grandkids are the first ones caught, will you still think first time offenders deserve this harsh of treatment? Now if it was for 3rd time offenders I could live with it. Did you ever have a couple drinks at a party or two back when you were a kid or in high school? Maybe that was too long ago for you to remember.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

What is the magic that prevents somebody from hurting/killing somebody on the 1st or 2nd time they drive drunk?

50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

As an example, if you were caught speeding the first time do you think your drivers license should be revoked or suspended for 6 months? Or is there some gray area about when this should happen?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

I note that you didn't answer my question.

If speeding is as connected with harm to others as drinking and driving is, then the same penalties should apply, if we want to discourage dangerous behavior and save lives.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Talking on a cell phone while driving is very dangerous also, some say just it's just as dangerous as DUI. What's the penalty for a first time offender caught doing that?

50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

Want to bet that "speeders" cause as many accidents involving deaths as DUI'd drivers do?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe it depends on your definition of "speeder". If someone is doing 70 mph over the limit, I suppose the answer is yes.

50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

As opossed to a DUI of *8.0 or 8.1? I don't think it takes 70 MPH over the regular speed limit to cause deaths. It can be 40 in a 30 zone or 30 in a 20 school zone or 70 in a 65 zone.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Could be.

On the other hand, there seem to be numerous injury/fatality accidents in the Lawrence area, almost all of which seem to include the use of alcohol.

I can't remember the last time I saw a story in the paper about one that didn't.

Liberty275 6 years, 5 months ago

You are smart enough to know the answer to this one. It's the same magic that stops men from stabbing each other because they have knives in their hands.

Mostly the magic works, but sometimes men cut each other, and sadly, sometimes people die in tragedies. Another price of freedom. One it appears few round here have the stomach to pay.

OTOH, ever notice that for a year after you cut someone by accident, you are still allowed to touch knives without providing body fluid for analysis?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago


I am not willing to have my loved ones die because somebody wants to drink and drive.

That is not a freedom that I feel warrants protection.

It's not an unpreventable tragedy - it's a preventable one.

And, drinking and driving is not "accidental" in my view - it's negligent and reckless behavior.

If somebody has a habit of waving sharp knives around other peoples faces, and winds up killing somebody, that would be analogous.

Only_place_to_live_in_KS 6 years, 5 months ago

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 5 months ago

The guy that had a couple of beers intends on killing no one. The woman that goes to an abortion clinic went there for the very reason of killing someone.

Lets see, if you need a lock out device for DUI, would it be fair to say, while they are in there digging out the kid, you get spade. Lets call getting spade a "Lock out device" for unwanted babies. I don't want to hear rape or incest arguments, these are different.

Isn't it a wonderful world when you can pass judgment on someone else, while things that benefit you are just fine?

You cant have it both ways.

Liberty275 6 years, 5 months ago

Can you please not give the kansas legislators ideas like "vaginal interlocks". Drunk women are the only ones that like some of us.

BlackVelvet 6 years, 5 months ago

PBG, Smitty and some other far left leaning folks on here will always blame all the world's ills on LPD and Olin. Plain and simple. And others here will call you names any time your opinion is the least bit different from theirs. The word hypocrite comes to mind when I think of all these "pro diversity" persons who lambast anyone who disagrees with their doctrine. Too bad a civil discussion on the issues is pretty much out of the question here.

Liberty275 6 years, 5 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.

wysiwyg69 6 years, 5 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.

verity 6 years, 5 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?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

I think what he's talking about is that when you breath into the tube of an ignition interlock, it looks exactly as though you are taking a few puffs on a joint (marijuana cigarette). That's what I thought someone was doing the first few times I saw it being done.

Liberty275 6 years, 5 months ago

You BLOW on interlocks, providing the authorities a sample of your breath.

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

Breath is mostly air, and air is a fluid. If that fluid has been inside your body, it is a body fluid and therefore constitutionally protected from all searches except with reasonable suspicion.

This breath is sampled for alcohol and the result allows the car to start if the drunkard is sober. Of course, it won't start if the drunkard is inebriated.
The problems with this are manifold. First, it is a modern day scarlet letter. You see one of those in a car and you know the owner is drunk. It is no different than making a cheating spouse wear a hat that say's "Infidel". It is an unusual punishment in that few similar punishments exists for other crimes.

Second, it is cruel because others that see the interlock will use it to define who you are, a drunkard. Do you want people laughing at your child for a year because he had three beers at his friend's wedding instead of two and got busted at a checkpoint?

Third, it is a search and seizure. The box records the date and time and other info, but also stores what the sample finds out. Requiring the device is the legal of equivalent of demanding unlimited right to search and seizure. Given the community standard, which in this case is what I say, there is no reason to continuous reasonable suspicion the drunkard is abut to drive drunk, allowing the law is a violation of the 4th amendment.

Except it isn't. There is no "right" to drive. It is a privilege. However, that is irrelevant because the law is "cruel and unusual" regardless (me being the jury).

"That's what I thought someone was doing the first few times I saw it being done. "

The first time you saw someone smoke a joint or operate an interlock?

verity 6 years, 5 months ago

I guess I run with the wrong crowd---I've never had any experience with anybody using an interlock.

I assume you mean alcoholic by "drunkard." No, I would not assume a person was an alcoholic because they had an interlock. I would assume only that they drove at least once while intoxicated.

L275, I think that your analogy with a scarlet letter is comparing two unequals. It would generally not be a danger to me that somebody was cheating on their spouse. Someone driving while intoxicated definitely is a danger to me and to the community as a whole.

I don't know about the laughing---I would not be laughing at an interlock and if I had a child I would much rather they be made fun of than that they killed or maimed themselves or someone else. Since I don't have a child, I can't say what I would do, but I hope I would deny them driving privileges myself if I ever caught them driving UI.

Maybe an interlock on the first offense is overdoing it, but I certainly support stricter laws to keep "under the influence" people off the road. There is just no excuse for it.

50YearResident 6 years, 5 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"

ivalueamerica 6 years, 5 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.

andreamg 6 years, 5 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....

50YearResident 6 years, 5 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

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