Kansas Supreme Court Strikes Law Making DUI Test Refusal A Crime

On February 27, 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court decided that the State of Kansas can no longer charge someone being investigated for DUI with the separate crime of refusing a blood test, breath test or test of other bodily fluids in connection with an investigation for DUI. The statute is 'Facially Unconstitutional', and must be thrown out, the court said, because it punishes the defendant for asserting his or her constitutional right to refuse to take a test when asked to do so by law enforcement conducting an investigation for Driving While Under the Influence or 'DUI'. In State of Kansas vs. David Lee Ryce, No. 111,698, and three other related decisions this week the State's top court held that a criminal statute that makes refusing a test a misdemeanor or even a felony violates basic rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth and Fourth Amendments and is therefore unconstitutional.

From the Court: "The Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits a state from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Freedom from physical restraint has always been at the core of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause from arbitrary governmental action, and K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 8-1025(b) imposes restraints on freedom because it sets out graduated sentencing severity levels for refusing to submit to a test and all levels require some term of imprisonment." (emphasis added)

The Court also reasoned that the State can still get a warrant for a test, and can still impose civil sanctions, including suspending driving privileges, for individuals who refuse a test.

Charged with DUI in Kansas City? Confused about the ever-changing landscape of DUI law in Kansas or Missouri? Contact our office today at 816.361.0964 or 913.383.3311!

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