What Are the Potential Consequences of Pleading Guilty to a DUI Charge?

Posted: December 1, 2023 at 12:00 am

The severity of DUI penalties in Kansas depends on various factors, including the number of prior convictions you have and the circumstances surrounding your DUI. If you’ve been accused of a DUI in Lenexa, KS and Shawnee, KS, getting the best DUI lawyer on your side is essential to protecting your rights and future, and you should never plead guilty without first talking to legal counsel.

Kansas DUI Law Overview

In Kansas, DUI laws prohibit operating or even attempting to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per milliliter or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving. Notably, a DUI can be issued without actual driving; the statute includes any overt act to engage in driving, so it’s not necessarily required that the person actually be moving the vehicle for a charge to be brought.

If a person is driving a commercial vehicle, the allowed BAC is only 0.04. If the person is under 21, the allowed BAC is just 0.02. It’s always important to remember that any person’s BAC will vary based on their body size, their metabolism and physiological ability to metabolize alcohol, the number of drinks they had and of what type, how quickly they drank, and whether the drinks came before, after, or with food and even what type of food. This is a very individualized situation, and you’ll need to talk with your DUI lawyer about the specifics of your Lenexa, KS or Shawnee, KS charge.

What Are the Potential Consequences of Pleading Guilty to a DUI Charge?

A first DUI offense in Kansas is classified as a misdemeanor, and the penalties can include 48 hours to six months in jail, fines up to $1,000, a 30-day license suspension, and a 180-day ignition interlock device (IID) requirement. If the driver’s BAC was 0.15% or higher, though, the penalties become more severe.

For a second DUI offense, also considered a misdemeanor, the penalties increase and can include 120 hours to 12 months in jail, fines of up to $1,750, a one-year license suspension, and a one-year IID requirement. Similar to the first offense, higher penalties are imposed if the BAC was 0.15% or more.

A third DUI offense typically remains a misdemeanor, with penalties of 30 days to 12 months in jail, fines up to $2,500, a one-year license suspension, and a two-year IID requirement. However, once you reach your third offense, there are some wrinkles to take note of. First, if either of your prior two convictions occurred within the past ten years, the third offense escalates from a misdemeanor to a felony, and that means more jail time, higher fines, longer license suspensions, etc.

Felony Charges for DUIs Involving Injuries or Deaths

Separate felony offenses, such as aggravated battery or involuntary manslaughter, can be charged in addition to a DUI if the impaired driving results in injuries or deaths. Penalties for these can include prison terms and fines, which escalate significantly if the driver was driving with a suspended or restricted license.

Implied Consent

Kansas’ implied consent laws mandate that drivers who are lawfully arrested for DUI must submit to blood or breath tests: by accepting a Kansas state driver’s license, you have implied your consent to any lawful DUI test. Refusing these tests results in an automatic one-year license suspension and a two-to-four-year restricted license period.

Diversion in Kansas DUI Cases

In Kansas, first-time DUI offenders may be eligible for diversion. This is a program where the defendant stipulates to guilt, but without a formal conviction. This is different from pleading guilty. Eligibility is at the prosecutor’s discretion and is not available if the DUI involved an accident that caused an injury.

Drivers who successfully complete this program, which takes a year, will have their charges dismissed. However, if they are convicted of a DUI again in the future, the diversion program is considered the same as a prior conviction for the purposes of applying penalties with the new charge. Essentially, the diversion will count as your “first strike” if there’s a second or third.

The Upshot

As you can see, there are serious penalties for a DUI, and these penalties escalate the more convictions you have. Thus, while it might not seem like a big deal to plead guilty to a first-time misdemeanor DUI charge, you should never do so without discussing the matter with the best DUI lawyer you can find. In addition to the penalties you’ll face for pleading guilty, there are many long-term consequences to consider.

Long-Term Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Impact on Driving Privileges

Even for a first offense, individuals face a mandatory 30-day license suspension, followed by a requirement to use an ignition interlock device (IID) for 180 days. This can make life very difficult. Whether you have kids that need to be picked up from school, an elderly parent who needs your help making it to doctor’s appointments, a job that depends on your ability to drive, or you just value your freedom of movement, losing your driving privileges is a serious penalty.

Financial Implications

The financial burden of a DUI conviction is substantial. Fines can range from up to $1,000 for a first offense to as much as $2,500 for a third offense, and these fines do not include additional costs you’ll have to pay, such as court fees, the cost of installing and maintaining an IID, increased insurance premiums, and the potential loss of income due to incarceration or loss of driving privileges.

Employment and Career Consequences

Many employers conduct background checks, and a DUI conviction may lead to job loss or hinder your future employment prospects, especially in jobs requiring driving or high security clearance. Professional licenses may also be at risk.

Impact on Personal and Family Life

The effects of a DUI conviction extend into personal and family life. The stress of the legal proceedings, the financial strain of fines and fees, and potential incarceration can strain all your closest relationships. Loss of driving privileges can lead to dependence on others for transportation, which can also affect your relationships. Outside your closest relationships, the social stigma associated with a DUI can impact your wider community standing.

Impact on Education and Scholarships

A DUI conviction can affect your educational opportunities and scholarship eligibility. Many colleges and universities conduct background checks, and a DUI might affect admissions decisions. Scholarship providers may also consider criminal records in their eligibility criteria, potentially leading to the loss of financial aid.

Travel Restrictions and International Consequences

A DUI conviction can even restrict your right to international travel. Some countries, such as Canada, have strict entry requirements and may deny entry to individuals with a DUI record. This limitation can affect your personal travel plans, professional opportunities abroad, and your ability to keep up with loved ones abroad.

Work With the Best DUI Lawyer in Lenexa, KS and Shawnee, KS

Pleading guilty to a DUI charge in Kansas is a very serious step, and one you should never carry out without the advice of a lawyer. It’s crucial to understand the full scope of the implications of the decision to plead guilty. If you’re facing a DUI charge, contact Billam & Henderson, LLC right away for a consultation to discuss your case and explore your options.