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Kansas drivers' rights challenged in DUI case

A decision by a Kansas judge could prompt significant changes to the way drunk driving cases are handled in state court. The ruling, which challenges existing law about breath test refusal, asserts that clients' rights are violated when they are forced to submit to breathalyzer tests. Under existing mandates, drivers must agree to take breathalyzer tests or they will face immediate criminal charges from the arresting officer.

The defense attorney in this case argued that police officers should not ask drivers whether they want to take the tests if they will face criminal sanctions for refusing. A district judge in the case agreed that the ruling violates drivers' right to Fourth Amendment protections under the Constitution; those rights protect against illegal search and seizure.

Government officials in Wichita say the judge's ruling will not have an effect on any other cases, but it is possible that the issue could make it as far as the State Supreme Court, thanks to the fundamental questions raised by the decision. The legal violations associated with the existing law may violate state and national constitutional protections.

Depending on the ruling of higher courts, the state's DUI law could be facing a complete overhaul. The most disconcerting section of the law, which deals with civil matters, could be revamped entirely. It currently requires the immediate suspension of a defendant's license if he or she refuses to take a breathalyzer test. Defense attorneys say that clients are punished for simply asserting their constitutional rights.

Prosecutors in the case intend to file an appeal, but that paperwork has not yet been submitted. Until then, the defendant in this situation will not be subject to legal punishment, as the judge's ruling has allowed the case to be dismissed.

DUI defendants still have rights, even though most of the cases may seem difficult to argue. Qualified defense attorneys can provide the legal insight needed to maximize the outcome of a variety of drunk driving proceedings.

Source:, "Judge's ruling on Wichita DUI case could challenge KS law" Anne Meyer, Oct. 02, 2013

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