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How College Students Can Reduce the Risk of a DUI Conviction in Kansas [Part II]

Posted on: 08 Oct, 2014

This blog post is part of our two-part blog that provides suggestions to college students on how to improve their situation when they are pulled over for DUI in Johnson County. College tuition has spiraled out of control so it is important that you not allow a momentary lapse in judgment to derail your future. Kansas DUI defense attorney Sarah G. Swain works diligently to protect college students who make isolated mistakes from jeopardizing their academic and occupational goals by providing a zealous defense to DUI charges. If you have not yet reviewed part-one of this blog, we invite you to read that installment before reading the remainder of this blog post.

Do Not Engage in a Conversation

While you are required to provide your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance to the driver, you should not answer questions or engage in a conversation with the officer. Standard questions include whether you have had anything to drink and your location prior to the stop. The officer is looking for admissions that may justify prolonging the stop and initiating a DUI investigation. The less you say the better but decline to answer in a polite way. One approach is to simply indicate that you would prefer not to answer any questions until you speak to a lawyer. Short answers are best because there is less chance of the officer noticing slurred speech or the odor of alcohol that also may be used to justify conducting a DUI investigation.

Ask If You Are Free to Leave

While it is highly unlikely the officer will agree to let you drive away, you should make this request multiple times during the interaction. Miranda rights are triggered once you are “in custody.” While a formal arrest will always mean that you are in custody, police officers are generally in no rush to arrest you because they seek to prolong the advantage that come from not warning you of your right against self-incrimination and right to have counsel present during questioning. When the officer refuses to let you leave despite your requests, this may later be used to argue that Miranda rights had attached so incriminating statements can be excluded.

Avoid Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) and Portable Breath Tests

Many people get confused about the Kansas informed consent law so they believe that they are legally required to submit to FSTs and a roadside breath test taken with a portable breathalyzer. Drivers are under no legal obligation to submit to either of these forms of intoxication screening so they should not agree to perform these tests. The function of these tests is to provide the officer probable cause for an arrest so that he can have you submit to a formal breath test at the police station. While you can still refuse to take the formal breath test, there are consequences of such a refusal which include the prosecutor’s ability to use the refusal as evidence of “consciousness of guilt” at trial and a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.

Many times the legal justification for the initial stop has little correlation to alcohol impaired driving. If you are pulled over in this situation and refuse both FSTs and a portable breath test, the officer may lack probable cause for an arrest. This may provide a basis to seek exclusion of formal breath test results at the police station.

While these tips may not assure that you avoid a Kansas DUI arrest, they provide the strongest foundation for your defense to the charges. When you avoid making incriminating statements, exposing observable signs of intoxication and taking FSTs or breath tests, the legal basis for the arrest may be more easily challenged. The prosecutor will have less evidence to support the position that you were driving under the influence of alcohol so the charges may be dismissed or reduced.

At our Kansas DUI defense law firm, we recognize the harsh consequences of a Kansas driving under the influence 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.