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Archive for Monday, March 7, 2011

DUI reform could cost Kansas up to $10 million

March 7, 2011

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— A proposal to vastly change the state's laws and penalties for driving under the influence is getting a chilly reception from many Kansas legislators, who complain that implementing all the reforms could cost the state up to $10 million.

But Sen. Tim Owens, who led a commission that recommended the changes, said he is confident at least some of the proposals will be saved.

After a two-year study, the Kansas DUI Commission recommended creating a statewide computer repository of driving under the influence cases. It also suggested better treatment programs for offenders, penalties for refusing to take a breath test and stiffer consequences for repeat offenders.

"I think we're going to do it," Owens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Topeka Capital-Journal. "It's a huge public safety effort. That's one of the main governmental functions we have."

But Sen. John Vratil, a Republican from Leawood and vice president of the Senate, said the legislation was simply too costly at a time when the state faces a multi-million dollar budget deficit. He said without fixing the estimated costs, the bill is stalled.

The proposal to impose penalties for refusing to take a breath test is drawing the most criticism because of the increased workload for county courts and the need to house more inmates, Owens said.

A proposal for mandatory prison time for fourth-time offenders also would increase the inmate population at state prisons. Like all other state agencies, the Kansas Department of Correction is facing budget cuts. It has already closed three state prison facilities in the past two years.

Those two proposals which would cost an estimated $7 million annually, will be either dropped or significantly modified to slash the cost, Owens said.

The Overland Park Republican is adamant about saving the central repository, at an estimated cost of $3 million. The state's failure to track that information lets repeat offenders go free, or doesn't give the state the chance to impose the proper penalties, Owens said.

Owens also would like to keep a proposed unified evaluation and treatment system offering more help for people who have several DUIs.

"We need to fix the problem," Owens said. "We can get to the blame later."

The bill would require all first-time drunken driving offenders have an ignition-locking device in their vehicle to prevent the vehicle from operating if the driver tested positive for alcohol.

Owens said the Senate Judiciary Committee would propose a streamlined version of the bill within the next two weeks.

Comments

Bursting 3 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't a license get suspended for a year for refusing breathalizer? Also isn't it a mandatory minimum of a year in jail for the 3rd dui? Not to mention the thousands and thousands in fines.

I think the punishment is pretty stiff, but what they should do is punish based on the speed your driving. Stiffer sentences for DUI's on HIGHWAYS!!!!

SWJayhawk13 3 years, 9 months ago

And the 3rd DUI & any that follow are all felonies.

gccs14r 3 years, 9 months ago

If they're worried about jail space, they could release the folks who are sitting in jail for simple possession of marijuana. I'd much rather lock up repeat DUI offenders.

gccs14r 3 years, 9 months ago

As for penalties, it should be mandatory loss of license and registration for a year and alchohol treatment for a first offense, a five year loss of license and registration and mandatory year in jail for a second, and a permanent driving ban and five years in prison for a third. Subsequent offenses should be ten years each and confiscation of whatever vehicle was being driven at the time unless it can be proven stolen.

Shane Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

I thought the largest industry in Kansas was the prison system. Does not Kansas get Federal monies based on prison population? Kansas has had an increase in population, according to the latest census, of a certain type that may be more prone to DUI's. So we could nip that in the bud. (And accomplish racial profiling, and illegal immagration checks all in one traffic stop!) So I say yes to more power to the police in this state.

Budgets_Smudgets 3 years, 9 months ago

state monies pay for state prisons. federal monies pay for federal prisons. This article is talking about state crimes, state prisons, and state taxes.

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