Sentences for some DUI offenders increase under new Kansas law

Kansas has just increased sentences for some DUI offenses, but may make expungement easier for others.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed into law House Bill 2055, which will have a dramatic impact on sentences for some DUI offenders, according to the Salina Journal. A section of the new law increases prison sentences and eliminates parole for those convicted of aggravated battery DUI. In addition, the new law will affect the criminal records of people convicted of any type of DUI offense within Kansas. However, in addition to the tougher penalties, some lawmakers are working on a separate measure that would make it easier to expunge DUI convictions from a criminal record.

Mija Stockman Law

The section of the new legislation that pertains to convicted DUI offenders is referred to as the Mija Stockman Law. The law increases the sentencing range for aggravated battery DUI to 38 to 172 months. In addition, under the new law those convicted of aggravated battery DUI are now ineligible for parole.

Specifically, the law increases sentences by counting all previous DUI convictions that occurred within Kansas as felonies and changing how out-of-state DUI convictions are taken into account during sentencing. The change means that all DUI convictions, including test refusals and juvenile adjudications, will appear as felonies on a defendant's criminal record. By counting such offenses as felonies, judges will have the option of sentencing convicted offenders to lengthier prison terms. The law went into effect July 1.

Faster DUI expungement

While the Mija Stockman Law will create lengthier sentences for some DUI offenders, another bill could potentially offer relief for others dealing with the difficulties caused by a previous DUI conviction. As the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, some state lawmakers are working on a bill that would reduce the amount of time convicted DUI offenders must wait before requesting that a DUI conviction be expunged from their criminal records.

Under the current law, people must wait 10 years before they can petition a court to expunge a municipal DUI conviction or seven years for a state conviction from their criminal histories. The proposed change would reduce both waiting periods to five years. Being able to expunge a DUI conviction sooner could help some individuals overcome the disadvantages, such as limited employment opportunities, that often follow a criminal record.

Criminal defense

Kansas' DUI laws are changing, which means that anybody accused of DUI needs to be prepared for the new penalties and sentences that could be coming their way. In addition to prison time, a DUI conviction can result in driving restrictions and a criminal record, both of which can make it difficult to maintain one's livelihood. As a result, those facing a DUI charge need to get in contact with a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can inform defendants about their legal rights and may be able to offer advice on how to reduce the damage that a DUI charge or conviction may otherwise result in.