Having a DUI lawyer on speed dial might be the smartest move you make if you’re planning to drink and drive during this holiday season. During the next few weeks with all the holiday parties going on in Kansas City, law enforcement will be out in force. The likelihood of an increase in DUI and DWI charges, based on statistics, is predictable.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a time when merrymakers, even with the best of intentions, sometimes make foolish choices when it comes to drinking and driving. We understand it’s the season to “eat, drink and be merry.” Hanging out with a few friends, having a few drinks – it’s all part of the fun. From a loaded glass of eggnog at the holiday office party to welcoming in the New Year with a whiskey shot at a downtown bar, alcohol consumption is often a large part of the holidays for many people. Unfortunately for some, while drinking during the holidays can be a time of fun and excitement, it can easily turn into your worst nightmare when you get behind the wheel.
Drinking, DUIs & The Holidays
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are considered criminal offenses. When a person’s blood alcohol content exceeds the legal level between 0.05% and 0.08%, depending on the jurisdiction, a person can be convicted. An aggravated category of the offense may exist in particular jurisdictions when the blood alcohol content exceeds 0.12%.
Millions of Americans take to the road during Christmas and New Year’s, either on trips across the country to see family, or locally to attend holiday festivities. It has been estimated that one in eight licensed drivers who consume alcohol admit they have driven a vehicle after alcohol consumption. Highway safety data states the number of drunk driving arrests and the number of alcohol-related accidents shows a significant increase between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, many resulting in fatalities.
Kansas DUI & Missouri DWI penalties are similar. When you have been charged with drunk driving, a DUI lawyer who is licensed to practice in both states can be a good choice. Craig Divine of Divine Law, LLC, a DUI lawyer in Kansas City, is licensed and experienced in representing defendants on both sides of the state line. The penalties differ by state, but both Kansas and Missouri carry some of the toughest penalties for a DUI/DWI conviction. The severity of the punishment depends in part on the number of prior convictions you may have, your blood alcohol content (BAC) and whether you have been involved in an accident as the result of a DUI/DWI.
Advantages of Hiring a DUI Lawyer
You will need a DUI lawyer to go to trial. A DUI lawyer understands the law and is well-versed in the consequences of a drunk driving arrest. When the consequences are substantial (i.e., losing your license, paying a large fine, jail time), you are going to need the skilled help of a reliable attorney who can provide the representation you need.
Though you’re entitled to represent yourself it’s almost never a good plan. The learning curve for trial practice is steep and usually comes only with considerable experience. A lack of legal knowledge and trial skills will put you at a severe disadvantage in court. And judges typically have little patience for self-represented defendants who don’t know the rules of court. The bottom line is you don’t want to try a DUI case on your own—if you’re going to trial, you should have an attorney. You should meet with your attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been charged.
Probable Cause – Consent to Search
Law enforcement has the right to pull you over for any number of reasons, but unless they have a search warrant or probable cause they cannot legally search your car. An exception is that if you are arrested the officer has the right to search with or without your consent.
If you exhibit signs of intoxication – slurred speech, the smell of alcohol or drugs, the inability to walk upright without weaving could indicate there is probable cause to pull you over.
Your refusal to consent to the search may not stop the officer from searching your car, but it may be beneficial when the case goes to court. A DUI lawyer may be able to challenge the search and have the findings thrown out.
Right to Remain Silent
You have the right to remain silent. Do not disclose any information about anything – whether you have been drinking or not – don’t give them the typical ‘I’ve only had a couple of beers’ response. The only thing you need to do is stay quiet and call a DUI lawyer. The police have the right to read you your Miranda Rights only if you are under arrest and in custody. If that happens you should ask to speak to a DUI lawyer and not say anything else.
Having a driving license gives the state the right to test you for blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Both Kansas and Missouri carry penalties for DUIs and DWIs (Driving While Intoxicated). While some of the terms may differ slightly, the intent is the same.
- Missouri’s DWI laws prohibit all motorists from operating a motor vehicle with an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or while being under the influence of any combination of alcohol or drugs.
- Missouri does not strictly prohibit dismissal or pleading down of a DWI charge.
- Kansas’ DUI laws prohibit all motorists from operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 g/ml or more, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle.
- Kansas also has implied consent laws that require all drivers who have been lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a blood or breathalyzer tests. Refusal carries a two to a four-year suspension of license. All prior DUI convictions, refusals, and failed BAC tests (.08 g/ml or greater) within the person’s life are counted.
- Kansas law prohibits reducing a DUI charge to a lesser offense, but a diversion agreement is sometimes possible. It is unlikely that the prosecution would agree to a complete dismissal.
What Happens When You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test
If you refuse a Breathalyzer test, you will most likely face serious consequences, and you may risk having your license suspended or even face jail time. Prosecutors often base a potential DUI/DWI charge on other evidence collected at the scene, including officer observations, witness testimony, or the results of a field sobriety test and your refusal to submit to BAC and urine tests will most likely be used against you at trial. This often results in more severe penalties.
Implied Consent Laws
Since driving is considered a privilege and not a right, states can suspend or revoke your driver’s license, levy fines, or require you to install an ignition interlock device for a year or more for refusing to submit to a BAC test, even if you don’t get convicted of the DUI/DWI. Those with past DUI convictions can face longer suspensions or jail time.
Alternatives to Drinking and Driving
Is a drunk driving conviction really worth it? There are plenty of safe, pain-free alternatives to drinking and driving.
- Designated Driver
Most of us have a friend who doesn’t drink or is willing to be the DD for the night. Rely on it!
- Call a Taxi, Uber or Lyft
Bartenders have the numbers of cab companies handy. Use it. Put it in your phone contacts. Uber and Lyft are options that can be scheduled ahead of time or called via phone app. Even ask a friend. Don’t risk a DUI!
An experienced DUI lawyer who specializes in these types of cases has a thorough knowledge of drunk driving laws and defenses that a public defender or family law attorney don’t have. This can result in a better plea bargain, shorter license-suspension time or a dismissal of the charges.
The experienced and competent DUI lawyer at Divine Law in Kansas City has proven success obtaining the best possible outcomes for his clients. For a detailed explanation of every step in the process and answers to all your questions, Craig Divine’s knowledge becomes your knowledge – call today to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION. (816) 474-2240. Divine Law Office LLC – 104 W 9th St., Suite 404, Kansas City, MO 64105