Any involvement with the court system can be nerve-wracking, but angst and worry only multiply when you’re facing a DUI charge. This is a very serious offense that may cost drivers in Overland Park, KS, their driving privileges. You can, however, place yourself in the best possible defense position by hiring an experienced DUI lawyer.
Ask a DUI Lawyer in Overland Park, KS: I Need My Driver’s License to Keep My Job…What Options Do I Have?
Lawmakers in 2011 revised Kansas DUI laws to increase fines and fees, raise chemical test refusal penalties, and implement harsher chemical test failure penalties. The new laws also make it possible for some people to obtain what is commonly called a hardship license following suspension. But Kansas does not offer a hardship license. Instead, the state provides restricted driving privileges after a certain amount of the suspension period has passed.
Many people are surprised to learn that even a first offense DUI in Overland Park, KS, can mean a license suspension of at least 30 days. More commonly, the suspension period is for a full year. The restricted license provides a suspended driver with partial driving privileges so they can get to and from work and other important destinations.
The Ignition Interlock Device
Under the current law, a DUI hardship license is only issued when a vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device (IID). This device requires you to wait several minutes for the IID to power up and configure each time you get into your car. You must then blow into the device and register a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under 0.04 for the car to start.
Once you begin driving, the IID will require a rolling test every 15 minutes or so of operation to keep the vehicle moving. But these minor inconveniences are better than not being able to drive at all. If you’re approved for the hardship license by the Division of Vehicles (DOV), you will be able to drive to and from:
- Drug and/or alcohol treatment meetings
- Medical emergencies
Hardship License Requirements
Anyone whose license is suspended for one year following a DUI conviction can apply for a restricted license with an IID. Approval, however, is not guaranteed. You may be denied if you have a(n):
- Failure to appear on your record after a traffic citation
- Conviction for failing to maintain auto insurance
- Conviction for not complying with a child support order
- Conviction for driving while suspended
- Conviction for reckless driving
- Out of state license suspension
- Prior legal action on your record that has not been cleared
As long as your record is free of the elements listed above, you stand a strong chance of being approved for the restricted license program. It’s best, however, to review your eligibility with your DUI lawyer. Together, the two of you can also develop a case for why you should be granted a restricted license.
A Few More Details
The time you must wait before applying for restricted driving privileges depends on the reason your license was suspended. If this was the result of a chemical test failure – including failing a breath test – or a DUI conviction, you must wait 45 days after your suspension begins. If your suspension was the result of a chemical test refusal, the law demands that you wait 90 days to apply.
Once you are approved for a restricted license, you must pay for the IID and drive with it for the remainder of your suspension period. Depending on the sentence you received following your DUI conviction, you may need to continue driving with the IID for an additional period of one to 10 years. This extension depends on factors like your BAC reading at the time of your arrest and the number of prior convictions on your record for driving-related offenses.
Understanding the Legal Processes
It’s important to understand that after a DUI arrest, two distinct legal processes begin. One is the criminal case that moves within State or Municipal Court. The second is the Administrative License Hearing. Each process continues independently of the other, meaning you can lose both, win both, or win one and lose the other.
Although neither process is influenced by what happens in the other, you need the same DUI lawyer to represent you in both. The defense theories used on your behalf often overlap, and the evidence used in the criminal case can be very helpful in defending you in the license hearing.
The Administrative License Hearing
This hearing is the process by which the State of Kansas takes steps to suspend your driver’s license. The suspension process actually begins after you have failed or refused a chemical test. The arresting officer then seizes your driver’s license and provides you with a form known as the DC-27. This serves as your temporary license for the next 30 days.
Once the DC-27 is in your hands, you have 14 days to request an Administrative License Hearing. Failure to request this hearing will result in an automatic suspension of your license. Likewise, if your request is filed late or does not include the necessary information, the court will reject it and suspend your license. This is just one reason why it’s so important to contact an Overland Park, KS, attorney as soon as possible.
After you request the hearing, the Kansas Department of Revenue will provide an acknowledgement of your request and extend your driving privileges until the date of your hearing. You’ll then receive a second letter informing you and your attorney of that date.
At the Administrative License Hearing, you and your attorney must prove to the hearing officer why your license should not be suspended. It’s not enough to argue that you need to drive to work or take your kids to school. Neither of these statements constitutes a legal defense, and the hearing officer will want to hear a well-developed argument that focuses on the legal facts of your case.
Defending a DUI Charge
Many people immediately lose hope after a DUI arrest and assume their license will be suspended. But with a strategic defense, you may be able to fight to have your case dismissed, charges reduced, and/or your license maintained. What is a strategic defense? One that looks at the circumstances of your arrest and identifies key mistakes.
For instance, a police officer must legally support the reasons for your DUI arrest. If those reasons cannot be substantiated, the arrest itself may be deemed unlawful and any evidence obtained from it may be suppressed in court. Police are also prohibited from searching a driver or automobile for a minor traffic offense and may not search a car without the dirver’s consent. Other mistakes commonly made in DUI arrests include:
- Stopping a car for an anonymous report of drunk driving
- Initiating a traffic stop without reasonable basis that a traffic offense was committed
- Administering field sobriety tests that are inaccurate
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, the best thing you can do now is contact an attorney who specializes in such cases. A lawyer can advocate on your behalf at the Administrative License Hearing and represent you in the criminal trial. Even if the hearing officer decides against you, a hardship license may be an option so you can at least drive to and from work and school. Learn more about the ways we can fight for you by contacting Billam & Henderson, LLC.