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Kansas DUI penalties among the nation's harshest

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that revisions in states' DUI laws have had a tremendous impact on traffic safety. The rate of alcohol-related fatalities was cut by more than half between 1982 and 2013. Despite this, about one-third of fatal auto accidents still involve impaired drivers, with an annual nationwide economic impact of $60 billion.

A 2015 WalletHub study provided a state-by-state comparison of consequences for drivers convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. Kansas placed fifth among states for the harshest penalties for drunk-driving convictions based on license suspensions, jail terms and other factors, like the court-ordered use of ignition interlock devices.

A convicted DUI defendant in the U.S. typically spends at least a short time in jail. In Kansas, a 48-hour period is required for a first-time offender, although judges may opt to order 100 hours of community service instead. Add to that a fine of up to $1,000, court-ordered substance abuse education or treatment, probation and other related costs and fees, and the time and money spent by a person convicted of one DUI can be significant.

Drivers' license suspensions generally occur beginning at the time of an arrest. The average nationwide pretrial license suspension, known as an administrative suspension, generally lasts a minimum of 90 days. A defendant with a first-time DUI in Kansas can expect with a 30-day license suspension followed by driving "restrictions" for another 330 days, plus the possibility of a year-long vehicle impoundment.

Among those restrictions may be the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. This is an on-board alcohol breath test that disables a vehicle when an operator's blood alcohol level is too high. The devices are mandatory for all second and subsequent DUI convictions, but may be required for first-time Kansas offenders for six months to one year.

Calling a lawyer following a DUI arrest can have short and long-term benefits. Defense attorneys may be able to lessen some of the hardships defendants accused and convicted of DUI charges face.

Source: WalletHub, "Strictest And Most Lenient States On DUI," Alina Comoreanu, accessed July 01, 2015

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