Under Kansas state law, drivers used to be required to take a blood, breath or urine test for the purpose of determining blood alcohol content (BAC), if arrested for DUI. The Kansas “implied consent” law was enforced with any driver, with the understanding that anyone driving on public roads in Kansas can be pulled over for suspected DUI and required to submit to a BAC test.
The Kansas Supreme Court recently eliminated the law, after supporters of the decision argued that the law was a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects law abiding citizens from warrantless search and seizures.
Under the previous DUI law, drivers who refused a breathalyzer test were subject to possible DUI conviction, up to six months in jail, a year suspension of a driver’s license, and a fine of $1,000.
Campaign supporters in favor of the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision to eradicate the existing DUI law believe that law enforcement cannot legally make drivers give officers a product of their bodies without a warrant. They believe that taking away the state law that allows law enforcement to infringe on the people’s constitutional rights is the best way to prevent other rights from being compromised.
Others fear that the elimination of the state law will lead to drunk drivers getting away with breaking other laws. It is illegal to consume alcohol and drive. Breathalyzer tests are the most accurate and conclusive evidence used by law enforcement during suspected DUI stops.
If offenders are legally allowed to refuse a BAC test, officers have to rely solely on field testing and observation. Refusal will also mean that law enforcement will have no way of determining just how high a driver’s BAC is, making it difficult to press charges, or identify whether a driver should be lawfully convicted of a DUI. Eliminating the law, eliminates scientific evidence against a DUI offender, leaving prosecutors to rely solely on observations rather than facts.
Kansas drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test are still subject to possibly lose their license for a year. The decision from the Kansas Supreme Court is not final. In June, the United States Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the case, and issue an opinion. The outcome of the decision will likely lead to changes of DUI laws in other states.