Archive for March, 2011

Is It Possible To Get A DUI in Kansas If You Were Not Driving An Automobile?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Most people know that intoxicated driving can have serious criminal, civil and financial consequences. It can also endanger your life and others. A motorist who has had too much to drink and chooses not to drive should be commended, but they have to be aware that climbing into their car to sleep or to wait until some of the alcohol effects wear off can still expose them to a DUI charge.

A motorist does not have to be driving to be arrested and convicted of intoxicated driving.  Every state requires that for a DUI to be charged, a motorist has to be in “actual physical control” of the vehicle.  Typically, this means that if a person is in the car and the keys are in the ignition, even if the motor is not running, they are considered in “actual physical control.”  It may not matter if the potential driver had no intention of driving the vehicle.

The states differ in their interpretation of “actual physical control.” The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld a DUI conviction of a man with a blood alcohol level of 0.18 who had had his keys in the center console of his car. His car also would not start, but the court interpreted the phrase “physical control” to include the possibility that the defendant could have started his car, regardless of whether he intended to or not.

The New Mexico Supreme Court, however, limits physical control to situations where the state must prove the driver intended to drive.  It reasoned that public safety would be better served if motorists decided to use their vehicles as temporary shelters with no intent to drive.  In other words, being a passive occupant may does not rise to the level of actual physical control.

In most states, a motorist in their car with the engine running usually signals to law enforcement that the driver is in physical control and can drive at any moment. To escape a conviction, an intoxicated motorist should either leave their keys outside their vehicle, or find someplace else to sleep it off.

If an officer comes upon a vehicle with a driver asleep in either the front or back seat, they can ask the motorist to take field sobriety tests (FST) so that the officer can observe the driver’s coordination and performance.  A motorist can refuse to take the FST, and if the driver has a physical disability, the driver should advise the officer of his or her condition.

The FST must take place on a dry, even surface. It can include standing on one leg while counting out loud, a finger to the nose with eyes closed, a heel-to-toe walk along a line with turns, and reciting the alphabet. The officer is looking for balance, signs of swaying, and an ability to follow directions.

If a motorist performs poorly, the officer can request that the driver take a breath or blood test. A refusal can result in license suspension of at least one year.  The question of physical control can be complicated so a motorist in this situation is advised to see professional assistance from an experienced DUI or criminal defense attorney.

Receive a free initial consultation with a Liberal Kansas DUI attorney by calling (620) 624-8158 today. Koehn & Tahirkheli, L.L.C. serves the cities of Liberal, Garden City, Sublette, Elkhart, Johnson City, Hugoton, Ulysses, Dodge City, Meade, Seward county, and serving all other communities in Southwest Kansas.

Getting Convicted of a DUI in Kansas and The Impact On Your Insurance Coverage

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Getting a DUI can wreak havoc on your bank account, including fines, attorney fees, impound fees, suspension fees not to mention paying to get your license reinstated.  However, one of the most expensive consequences your likely to face is the long-term effect on your insurance.  If you are convicted of a DUI, your insurance company will almost certainly find out.  If you do not notify them in a certain period of time, they could cancel your insurance coverage entirely.  In most situations, your insurance company will work with you if you have had a DUI, or even multiple offenses, but it will not be cheap.

Insurance companies generally discover that a policyholder has received a DUI in a number of ways.  The first way that an auto insurance provider may learn of a policyholder’s DUI is that the policyholder may simply inform his or her insurance carrier after being arrested or convicted.  Secondly, the insurance company may uncover the DUI through its annual driving record investigations.  Finally, an insurance company may learn of a DUI through the filing of a SR-22 form (depending on state law), which is a proof of insurance certificate form that is needed when a driver’s license is re-instated.  In rare cases, insurance companies never find out about a DUI, but this is quite rare.

Insurance companies tend to deal with DUI cases in two ways.  They will either maintain a policyholder’s coverage but substantially increase the rate or cancel the policy entirely.  If the insurance carrier does not cancel the policy, they will label the driver “high risk” and substantially increase the rate.  If a person has prior DUI convictions, the insurance company will increase the rate even more.  If the insurance carrier decides to cancel coverage, it can be difficult to find an insurance company that will provide coverage at an affordable rate.

The rate may eventually go down because a DUI may come off your record after a certain period of time.  If you are cancelled and must find a smaller insurance company that insures higher risk drivers at a more expensive premium, the insurance company will file the SR-22 (depending on your state) for you so that your driver’s license can be reinstated.

Receive a free initial consultation with a Liberal Kansas DUI attorney by calling (620) 624-8158 today. Koehn & Tahirkheli, L.L.C. serves the cities of Liberal, Garden City, Sublette, Elkhart, Johnson City, Hugoton, Ulysses, Dodge City, Meade, Seward county, and serving all other communities in Southwest Kansas.