When you are driving home from a fraternity or sorority party or other college function involving alcohol and see flashing red lights, this can be both a frightening and life-changing moment. Even if you are over the legal limit for intoxication under Kansas law, this does not necessarily mean that you will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and certainly does not mean you will be convicted. However, the decisions you make and actions you take can have a significant impact on whether you drive home or ride to jail in a squad car.
If you are a college student, a DUI conviction can have an enormous impact on your future, including academic discipline under the honor code, ineligibility for student loans, a criminal record and ineligibility for certain occupational and professional licenses. These consequences are on top of the penalties that normally accompany a DUI conviction in Kansas, such as incarceration in jail or prison, substantial fines, loss of driving privileges, probation, mandatory alcohol class, community service and other possible penalties.
Because of the lasting impact of a driving under the influence conviction on an individual’s future, it is important to take certain steps to reduce the probability that you are hauled off to jail and ultimately convicted for driving under the influence. Johnson County criminal defense attorney Sarah G. Swain has successfully defended many drivers accused of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In this two-part blog post, Ms. Swain has offered an overview of how to handle a stop if you have been drinking to increase the probability you do not suffer a DUI conviction.
Be Respectful but Not Intimidated
Many college students have not had many interactions with police officer other than perhaps a traffic stop for speeding. Even if you have watched the scene played out hundreds of times in crime dramas on television and in movies, there is no way to simulate the sense of apprehension and fear that may overwhelm you when a police officer towers over you with a firearm and uniform. Many people feel an overwhelming urge to talk and explain their situation rather than to assert their rights.
While there is nothing to be gained by being rude to the officer, you should resist the natural urge to comply with the officer’s request. One good practice is to have your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance in your hand with both hands on the steering wheel when the officer approaches the vehicle. The exact nature of your interaction may depend on what the officer observed that caused the traffic stop. Irrespective of whether you were stopped because of a traffic violation or a pattern of driving the officer thought suggested you were intoxicated, the officer will be carefully focused on your demeanor, physical appearance and speech patterns during the stop. If you have your paperwork out to provide to the officer, you avoid the risk of fumbling around or dropping your driver’s license or paperwork, which may be used by the officer as evidence that you were impaired by alcohol.
While we recommend you also review Part II of this two-part blog post to learn about other ways to reduce the chance you will be convicted of DUI, the best way to learn about your specific situation is to schedule a consultation with an experienced Johnson County DUI attorney. At our Kansas DUI defense law firm, we recognize the harsh consequences of a DUI conviction and work diligently to protect our clients’ driver’s license, freedom and reputation. We invite you to contact our office and discuss your situation with Kansas DUI attorney Sarah G. Swain without fear of being judged. The initial consultation is free and confidential. Call us today at 785-842-2787 or toll free at 866-550-2787.