There are numerous myths surrounding DUI's.
Myth #1: You can only get a DUI due to alcohol or illegal drugs. Incorrect.
Kansas law allows a DUI conviction when impaired due to alcohol, drugs (even if legally prescribed), or a combination of both drugs and alcohol. Thought taking that Nyquil was safe? Think again! In fact, as a DUI defense lawyer, I often provide legal representation for people who were accused of DUI, due to taking legal over the counter drugs for a cold!
Myth #2: If you were charged with drunk driving, you are probably guilty. Incorrect.
There is a reason why the state must prove the guilt of the Defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the government makes mistakes, even when investigating and deciding whether to charge a DUI.
Furthermore, rather than doing a more blood tests to determine someone's blood alcohol ratio, law enforcement almost always does a breath sample, which then tries to determine what the person's blood alcohol level is. This simply isn't reliable or the best way to accurately measure BAC. As a criminal attorney, I have to point this out to a jury during DUI trail. Better yet, I have an expert who explains it clearly.
Additionally, the person who is quick to judge someone merely accused of DUI should remember, it could happen to them. Just because you are accused, it doesn't make you guilty. The officer's opinions are just that, opinions.
Myth #3: A First Time DUI isn't a big deal. Incorrect.
The days of amending a DUI to reckless driving are gone. In fact, the Kansas legislature now specifically disallows pleading off of DUI's.
Even a first time DUI can lead to jail time. In fact, the statute allows for up to six months jail time in Kansas for aq first time DUI. Over recent years, the DUI laws have significantly toughened, providing major burdens to a person convicted of drunk driving. These include higher fines, serious driving suspensions and restricts, tough probation requirements, and etc. Additionally, competently defending a DUI is tougher as law enforcement experiences more and more training, as well as the prosecutor.
Myth #4: I can do community service in lieu of jail time or losing my license. Incorrect.
While there is a provision in the statute allowing community service in lieu of the fine, it will not replace jail time or having your license suspended.
Myth #5: I don't need a lawyer who focuses primarily on DUI defense to handle my case. Incorrect.
I often have friends who attempt to hire me for various legal issues like bankruptcy, business law, or family law. However, I send them to lawyer who focuses on THOSE specific issues. That way they get a lawyer who specializes in the area they need help in. I would never advise someone to use a non dui lawyer for a drunk driving cases. You need a DUI lawyer who knows the ever-changing Kansas DUI laws and is familiar with the best ways to defend drunk driving charges.
Myth #6: DUI cases can't be beaten. Incorrect.
As a DUI attorney, I have won numerous cases due to suppression issues, trial, or dismissal. In Kansas, prosecutors do have a high conviction rate. But, it is possible to beat a DUI case. To have a successful defense, it requires deep investigation, lots of pre-trial discovery, experience, the correct motions, competent "lawyering", and legal research. Also, many DUI cases benefit from innovative defense strategies, and expert witnesses.
Sadly, many people just plead guilty, when they had a solid dense.
Myth #7: DUI cases are identical to other criminal charges. Incorrect.
While a DUI is a criminal charge, it is vastly different than other criminal cases. There are some laws which are interchangeable, but DUI defense is really a beast of it's own. In fact, some court have "DUI Judges" assigned to them to handle the DUI cases as DUI laws are so different.
Also, the Courts have seemed to refuse to apply the Constitutional protections allowed for most criminal cases. While the 4th does come into play, it appears to provide less and less protection for DUI defendants
Myth #8: The City/State doesn't to spend the resources or energy to prosecute me: Incorrect
The truth is, DUI is a huge money maker. Clients often think that the City will just dismiss the case once they find out how good of a person my client is. It doesn't work that way. Furthermore, dismissing a DUI case is a big deal and is monitored by organizations like MADD. As a DUI defense attorney I have been able to get DUI charges dismissed, but it is rare and only in special circumstances.
Myth #9: Always refuse to Take the Breath Test: Incorrect
This is a tough one. The "Always" is what makes this false. I usually want my clients to have taken the PBT. That way there isn't automatic probable cause for an arrest. Often police will administer the PBT too quickly and I may be able to get it suppressed. Besides, the PBT results aren't generally admissible in trial anyway.
The breath test at the Police station, usually administered on an Intoxilyzer 8000 is a different story. If you refuse to take the test, the jury will hear about this refusal and your license will likely be suspended for at least a year. On the other hand, if you blow at the station, the results will likely be heard by the jury and could lead to an easier conviction. While taking the test could make things harder, there are times it actually makes it easier, such as when you have a low reading, or if there were maintenance problems with the machine.