If you’ve recently been charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Kansas, you may be wondering whether you can still operate a vehicle while your case is pending. This is a common concern, and one that frequently gets people searching for “DUI lawyers near me.” It’s essential to understand the rules in these situations, and your Johnson County DUI lawyer will be able to give you more specifics about how the following will apply in your unique situation.
Kansas Rules: The Basics
In Kansas, driving under the influence is a serious offense that can be charged to those driving with alcohol or drug impairment. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Kansas is 0.08% for adult drivers. For drivers under the age of 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol. Anyone can be charged with a DUI even if their blood alcohol level is below the limit if they are not safely operating a vehicle.
If you are arrested and charged with DUI in Kansas, you will face both criminal penalties and administrative consequences related to your driving privileges. These penalties can include fines, license suspension, mandatory DUI education programs, and even jail time for repeat offenders.
Can I Still Drive in Johnson County, KS While My DUI Case Is Pending?
The short answer is that you may be able to, depending on the specifics of your case. A person cited for a DUI in Kansas faces two separate proceedings: a criminal prosecution and a civil administrative suit initiated by the Kansas Department of Revenue against their driver’s license. It’s important to note that these two cases are entirely independent of each other and do not influence one another.
Here’s how the process typically goes:
Implied Consent Notice
Upon arrest, the police officer should have read you the implied consent notice. This notice informs a person of their obligation to submit to chemical testing, such as a breathalyzer test, to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Issuance of a Pink Form
After a failed chemical test, or if the test is refused, the police officer retains the individual’s driver’s license. In its place, the officer provides a pink form titled “Officer’s Certification and Notice of Suspension,” often referred to as a DC-27. This pink form serves as the person’s temporary driver’s license throughout the administrative suit. You can drive with this until your hearing is concluded.
The pink form includes fine print instructions explaining that you must submit a written request for a hearing regarding your driving privileges within 14 days. If a person doesn’t do this, or if the request isn’t submitted correctly, the result is an automatic license suspension.
The Administrative Hearing
Upon receiving a request for an administrative hearing, the Kansas Department of Revenue will initiate proceedings to determine whether the license suspension is lawful. Here’s what to expect in your case:
Once the Department of Revenue receives the hearing request, they will notify you and/or your attorney of the receipt. During this period, your driving privileges are extended until the date of the hearing. Typically, you’ll receive notice of the hearing date and time about three to six weeks after the request is mailed.
It’s important to note that the chosen hearing date is generally non-negotiable unless there’s a compelling reason for rescheduling it.
Evidence and Discovery
The Department of Revenue mandates that any video or audio recordings related to the DUI arrest be provided by the police to you and your lawyer before the hearing. Additionally, certain essential documents will be mailed to you before the hearing.
Your attorney may file motions and objections during these hearings to ensure that you’re being treated fairly. It’s crucial to understand that the burden of proof is quite different between the administrative and criminal proceedings you’ll go through:
- Administrative Proceeding: In this proceeding, you are presumed guilty, and you must prove that your license should not be suspended.
- Criminal Proceeding: In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove everything beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, you are presumed innocent until it is proved without a doubt that you committed the crime you are being charged with.
Defenses and Outcomes
Winning an administrative hearing can be challenging since the burden of proof is on you, and you should never go into an administrative hearing without a skilled Johnson County, KS lawyer on your side. Various defenses and strategies might be helpful to you, like:
- Officer Non-Appearance: If the arresting officer fails to appear at the hearing, it often results in the case being dismissed.
- Arguing You Weren’t Driving
- Post-Driving Alcohol Consumption: Demonstrating that you consumed alcohol only after driving can be a viable defense.
- Technical and Constitutional Arguments: There are a range of technical statutory or constitutional arguments and defenses that can be explored, and your lawyer will help you decide which might be useful in your case.
There are more options that your lawyer will know how to explore, so be sure to contact a lawyer as soon as possible and start working on a defense.
Administrative Suspension Penalties
The possible penalties in an administrative suspension vary based on factors like BAC levels and how many prior offenses you have (or don’t have):
First-Time Test Failure
If this is your first time, and your blood alcohol levels are fairly low (.08-.149), you can expect a 30-day license suspension followed by 6 months of restricted driving (with an ignition interlock device for certain conditions). If this is your first time, but your blood alcohol level was relatively high (.150 and above), you may be given one year of license suspension followed by one year of restricted driving.
Second and Third Test Failure
Second and third time failures with relatively low blood alcohol levels (.08-.149) result in a one year of license suspension followed by one year of restricted driving and a higher reinstatement fee. If it’s your second failure with a higher BAC, you can expect one year of license suspension followed by two years of ignition interlock use and a higher reinstatement fee. For a third failure with a high BAC, you will have one year of license suspension followed by three years of ignition interlock use and a higher reinstatement fee.
Fourth Test Failure
With the lower BAC, a fourth failure results in one year of license suspension followed by one year of restricted driving and a higher reinstatement fee. With a higher level, you are facing four years of restricted driving and a higher reinstatement fee.
Fifth Test Failure
At this point, your driving privileges will be permanently revoked.
Appealing the Suspension
Every driver retains the right to appeal the administrative driver’s license suspension to the district court of the county where the hearing took place. This petition for review must be filed within 14 days, or the suspension remains in effect. Until the appeal is finished, you can usually continue to drive.
DUI Lawyers Near Me: The Importance of Having Johnson County, KS Legal Help
The administrative hearing is only part of what you’ll face: the criminal charges can have far more severe consequences should you lose your case. DUI administrative proceedings and criminal court proceedings are complex, and a successful outcome to either requires the kind of expertise and experience that only a lawyer has.