What Are the Consequences of a First-Time DUI in Kansas?

Posted: March 1, 2022 at 12:00 am

In Kansas state, a DUI is considered a class B misdemeanor. While it’s not a felony, it is a mid-level offense with severe consequences. If you are around Shawnee, KS and have been arrested for DUI, your best option is to hire a DUI lawyer who can study your case and present you with the best choices moving forward.

How Can a DUI Lawyer in Shawnee, KS Help You?

The process of a DUI conviction starts at the moment in which a police officer detains you. Law enforcement officers are allowed to detain you for several reasons, including a simple suspicion that may indicate that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Once they stop you, they will ask you to perform several tests, including a preliminary breath test, also known as a breathalyzer.

You have the right to refuse testing at any point. Refusing to get tested can work in your favor because a prosecutor will need to prove that you were driving under the influence to build a case. However, this can also result in more severe penalties if you are found guilty during a trial. It’s important to note that preliminary breath tests cannot be used as evidence in court.

In Kansas, accepted blood alcohol levels are below 0.08. If your blood alcohol level is equal to this or higher, you’ll be immediately arrested. More substantial penalties apply if your alcohol level is at or above 0.15. It’s important to know that Kansas is a zero-tolerance state for drivers under 21, and the maximum alcohol level for minors is < 0.02.

At the Police Station

After you are arrested, you will be taken to the precinct to be processed. During this time, you can expect to get your picture taken, and the officers who detained you will create a report. They can also require you to take a blood or urine test to determine your blood alcohol level better. After that, a judge will decide whether you can be released with a hearing date or if law enforcement officers will transport you to a corrections facility until you post bail.  

At This Stage, a Lawyer Can: 

Analyze your case and make sure that law enforcement officers respect your rights during every step of the process. For example, failure to inform you about your rights regarding blood alcohol testing (also known as the “Implied Consent Advisories”) can be an essential point to defend your case.

The Administrative Process

A DUI arrest will start an administrative process independent from the criminal process. After being arrested, your license will be suspended. You will then be served with a form known as DC-27, or “Officer’s Certification and Notice of Suspension.” You have the right to continue driving for fourteen days with this form. After this period, you need to make a formal request for a hearing regarding your driving privileges (failure to request a hearing formally will automatically suspend your driver’s license). The suspension of driving privileges will vary depending on your blood alcohol level and age.

Because the administrative process starts with a presumption of guilt, it is your responsibility to prove your innocence. A lawyer will help you determine if there were any process violations when you were detained. Process violations may include failure to inform you about implied consent laws, improper arrest, and incorrect testing procedures.

If you are found guilty, a lawyer can also help you obtain a restricted license to drive to work or school, only if you are driving a vehicle with an interlocking ignition device. Applying for a limited permit can be done only after the initial 45 days of suspension.

Diversion in DUI Cases

First-time DUI offenders may be eligible for a process called “Diversion,” You admit guilt but are not formally convicted. Diversion is a contract or formal agreement between yourself and the prosecutor’s office in which, in exchange for them dropping the charges after a year, you commit to:

  • Not drinking or visiting places where alcohol is served during one year
  • Attending an alcohol education class and a victim’s panel
  • Not violating any laws for one year
  • Taking random urine tests

The main benefit of getting a diversion (and holding your end of the bargain during the following year) is that you are never convicted and won’t have a criminal record moving forward. Whether you get a diversion or not is entirely up to the prosecutor, and your lawyer can help build a strong case for it. Also, it is vital that your lawyer reviews the diversion contract/agreement before you sign and walks you through getting the charges formally dropped after the one-year period passes.

The Criminal Process

Prosecutors can get a DUI conviction in two ways: by proof of alcohol levels being higher than allowed within 3 hours of the detention or by proving that a driver was less safe due to alcohol or drug consumption. Penalties of being found guilty of a first-time DUI include:

  • A minimum jail time of 90 days and up to six months
  • A fine of a minimum of $750 and up to $100

The presence and advice of a professional attorney during the criminal process are of the utmost importance. If you are convicted, a lawyer can help you convince the court of exchanging the jail penalty for 100 hours of community service and help you get a lower fine. A lawyer can also help you get probation instead of jail time (which is only possible after spending 48 hours in custody).

Aggravating Circumstances

A DUI conviction, even if it’s your first offense, will carry more severe consequences in the following circumstances:

  • If you are under 21 
  • If a minor is present in the car when you get detained. In this case, you can also be charged with endangering a minor
  • If you are driving a commercial vehicle (with a commercial license)

If any of these apply to you, don’t move forward without proper representation, as you can lose your driving privileges for a very long time and risk a longer jail time. Your lawyer is prepared to review the specific details of your particular situation and help you build a strong defense case.

After the Conviction 

Unfortunately, a DUI conviction does not end after the court process. It has long-term consequences, such as a criminal record that can make it difficult to rent a property, apply for a loan, or get a job. After five years, your lawyer can help you get your record expunged. If you could get a diversion or probation, your lawyer should be aware of any changes to the agreement and be notified once the process ends. Never agree to sign anything regarding your case without consulting your attorney.

A DUI conviction can be overwhelming and complicated, and making mistakes during the process can have severe and long-lasting consequences. You need to understand how the system works and how it can work in your favor. Hiring a lawyer increases your chances of a better outcome. Call us today at Henderson Legal Defense, LLC, and let us help you understand your next steps.