We represent clients who are arrested, charged, or cited for DUI/DWI offenses. The personal goal of our attorney is to provide a knowledgeable course of action, give your case close personal attention, and make sure your piece of mind is protected. Our attorney has received extensive training as both a former Prosecutor, and a current defense attorney in how law enforcement handles these charges and the potential issues that need to be investigated. It is our belief that a creative and aggressive approach is needed to get the best possible outcome in your case. All possible evidence, such as police reports, video recordings, breath test samples, toxicology reports, and maintenance records should be gathered in your DUI/DWI by an attorney so they can properly advise you of how to handle your case.
What is a DUI/DWI?
In both Kansas and Missouri, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence, or Driving While Intoxicated respectively if you operate a vehicle while your BAC is above 0.08. What is often misunderstood is that you can also be charged with DUI/DWI if your BAC is lower than 0.08 if the arresting officer believes you are impaired to a degree that renders a person incapable of driving a vehicle (in KS), or driving in an intoxicated state (MO). Additionally, both Missouri and Kansas also provide that you can be charged with DUI/DUID for driving under the influence of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Both States also provide an even more restrictive standard for drivers who have a CDL, or who are underage.
Two Important Parts to a DUI/DWI
When facing a DUI/DWI you will need to address the criminal charges which are filed in the Municipal or State Court, but you will also need to address the possible administrative penalties for either failing, or refusing to submit to the blood or breath test.
Administrative Hearing (Driver’s License/Civil Case)
- Both Kansas and Missouri have a separate proceeding for dealing with your driving privileges. Since driving is a privilege and not considered a right by the State the standard for suspending, or revoking your license is considerably lower than it would be for a conviction. The standard is basically probable cause (i.e., a reasonable belief) that you were operating a vehicle while in an intoxicated condition, or that you were under the influence to degree that rendered you incapable of operating a vehicle.
- In both Kansas and Missouri, if you do not challenge the administrative action on your driver’s license within a set period of time then you lose the ability to challenge the suspension or revocation of your driving privilege.
- In Kansas you must request a hearing on the administrative action within 10 business days of receiving the notice. This notice is usually given at the time you are arrested or given a ticket for DUI. The temporary privilege to drive (often called the pink sheet) acts as your driver’s license until either a hearing is held, or 30 days from receiving the notice.
- In Missouri you must request a hearing within 15 days if you submitted to the breath, or blood test. If you refused the test, or the law enforcement officer states that you refused then you must request a hearing within 30 days. Regardless, you will only have a temporary privilege for 15 days from when you were charged with DWI.
- In both Kansas and Missouri you are looking at very serious implications on your ability to drive, which can range from a 30-day suspension to a 10-year revocation in Missouri, and from 30-day suspension to a 10-year restriction to an ignition interlock device in Kansas. If you are the holder of a CDL then you may face even harsher penalties, possibly even lifetime revocation of your CDL privileges.
- Even before you are stopped the police officer may begin building a case against you for DUI/DWS. They will make note of anything they consider bad driving. They are taught to look for irregular driving, such as weaving, improper lane changes, failure to maintain a lane, failure to signal, slow reaction to emergency lights, etc. When they approach you they will make observations about your attitude, speech, smell, and appearance. The police officer is also taught to divide your attention with pointed questions and requests. This can be an extremely intimidating experience even for the most seasoned driver. If the police officer detects any odor of consumed alcohol, or gets a response that alcohol has been consumed it is likely that they will request that you exit the vehicle and perform what are referred to as the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s).
- The SFST’s consist of a battery of tests certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to show possible indicators of intoxication. The tests consist of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (eye test), the Nine (9) Step Walk and Turn Test, and The One Leg Stand. NHTSA insists that these tests must be administered in a certain way to maintain their validity for showing indicators of intoxication. It is important that an experienced attorney review the police officer’s administration of these tests, as many factors can challenge their validity. Common issues with SFST testing are improper instruction by the Officer, improper environment for testing, pre-existing medical conditions, the weight of the person being tested, and the age of the person being tested. Many people feel that they are not free to refuse the SFST’s, but there are no criminal penalties for refusing the tests. It is best to be polite and agreeable, but the goal of the Officer is to gather evidence to secure a conviction for DUI/DWI.
- In the Kansas City area many local police department may also request that you take part in Non-Standard Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are not certified by NHTSA, or supported by scientific evidence. They are often designed to divide attention and provide the police officer with examples of issues with mental processing and confusion. Depending on the particular court these tests are sometimes given a degree of authority. Examples of Non-Standard Testing would be the Alphabet Test, Backwards Counting Test, and the Finger-Dexterity Test. Once again these tests are voluntary and there is no criminal penalty for refusing the test.
- If a Police Officer has developed reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated they may also offer you what is called a Preliminary Breath Test, or PBT. The PBT is often administered on site and should not be confused with an Evidentiary Breath Test. The PBT is used to confirm an Officer’s suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol. In Kansas the PBT cannot be used as proof of particular BAC level, but can be used to confirm the presence of alcohol. Refusal of the PBT is considered a minor traffic infraction that carries a fine only, so the risk is low if a driver is to refuse. If an Evidentiary Breath Test is refused then there are possible severe repercussions for a person’s privilege to drive in Kansas, and Missouri. One important distinction is that certain handheld devices in Missouri can be admitted to support BAC determination and will act as an evidentiary test.
- Finally, if a police officer believes that he has probable cause that you are DUI/DWI you will be arrested and transported either to jail, or the police station for further testing. In Kansas and Missouri there is Implied Consent to drug and alcohol testing, so you are assumed to have consented to a test of your blood, urine, or breath. A refusal of this test can lead to serious consequences on your license, but taking the test gives the prosecution very good evidence that will aid in a potential conviction. In Kansas you do not have the right to consult with an attorney prior to testing, but in Missouri the police officer must give you a 20-minute period to contact an attorney. You must also be provided the means to contact an attorney. Once a test is completed or refused you will either be given a court date to appear, or booked into jail.
- It is important to note that the machines that are used by law enforcement to calculate BAC are not infallible. An important part of hiring an attorney is to have them request and examine the maintenance records, how the machine was operated, look for any inconsistencies, and determine if there are any possible defenses to possibly be used in your particular case.
What are the penalties for DUI/DWI
Kansas DUI penalties
- 1st Offense, is a class B nonperson misdemeanor, it can carry a penalty of up to six (6) months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000.00. The minimum penalty for conviction is forty-eight (48) hours in jail and a $750.00 fine.
- 2nd Offense, is a class A nonperson misdemeanor, it can carry a penalty of up to one (1) year in jail, and a fine of up to $1,750. The minimum penalty for a conviction is five (5) days in jail and a fine of $1,250.00
- 3rd Offense (with the prior convictions older than 10 years), is a class A nonperson misdemeanor, it can carry a penalty of up to one (1) year in jail, and a fine of up to $2,500.00. The minimum penalty for a conviction is ninety (90) days in jail, and a fine of $1,750.00.
- 3rd Offense (with the prior conviction occurring within 10 years), is a nonperson felony, it can carry a penalty of up to one (1) year in jail, and a fine of $2,500.00. The minimum penalty for a conviction is ninety (90) days in jail, and a fine of $1,750.00.
- 4th or subsequent, is a nonperson felony, it can carry a fine of up to one (1) year in jail, and a fine of $2,500.00. The minimum penalty for a conviction is ninety (90) days in jail, and a fine of $2,500.00.
Missouri DUI penalties
- 1st Offense, is a B level misdemeanor, it can carry a fine of up to $500.00, and up to six (6) months in jail. Eight (8) points will be assessed on your license, which will cause a thirty (30) day suspension.
- 2nd Offense (with one (1) prior offense that is older than five (5) years), is also a B level misdemeanor. It carries the same potential penalties as a 1st offense.
- 2nd Offense (with a prior occurring in the previous five (5) years), is an A level misdemeanor, it can carry up to one (1) year in jail, and a $1,000.00 fine. Twelve (12) points will be assessed on your license, which will cause a one (1) year license revocation. If there are two (2) convictions within five (5) years your license may be revoked for five (5) years.
- 3rd Offense (two prior convictions), is a D level felony, Missouri may also classify you as a persistent offender. It can carry from thirty (30) days to one (1) year in jail, or from one (1) year to four (4) years in prison. You can also be assessed a fine of $5,000.00. A third (3) conviction may cause your license to be revoked for ten (10) years.
- 4th Offense (three prior convictions), is a C level felony, Missouri may also classify you as an aggravated offender. It can carry from sixty (60) days to one (1) year in jail, or from one (1) year to seven (7) years in prison. You can also be assessed a fine of $5,000.00. Your license will be revoked for ten (10) years.
- 5th Offense (four prior convictions), is a B level felony, Missouri may also classify you as a chronic offender. It can carry from five (5) years to fifteen (15) years in prison. The minimum sentence on conviction is five (5) years before parole can be granted. Your license will also be revoked for ten (10) years.
Resolving any criminal charge is difficult and requires the hard work and dedication on the part of the defense lawyer. We work hard to protect the rights and futures of our clients. A dedicated attorney can many times negotiate a favorable outcome, but should always be prepared to take the case to trial if needed.