Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson testified before the Kansas Legislature on Thursday in support of a bill that would allow prosecutors to file a charge of aggravated battery against drunken drivers involved in injury accidents.
In his remarks, later released to the media, Branson cited the Aug. 26 incident in which an 18-year-old Kansas University student was hit by a drunken driver. The student, Colby Liston, of Derby, lost both legs in the accident after he was struck by a vehicle driven by fellow KU student Julian Kuszmaul, 22, whose blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit.
However, Branson’s office could only file drunken driving charges against Kuszmaul because of a Kansas Supreme Court rule requiring additional evidence of reckless behavior in order to file battery charges.
“We are able to charge a DUI driver with manslaughter if they kill someone but if they merely injure someone, the simple DUI charge is all that is available to prosecutors, creating an absurd and unjust result,” Branson testified.