Archive for December, 2012

How Can You Minimize Your Risk of a DUI Conviction in Kansas?

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

When drivers are stopped for DUI in Wichita or the surrounding areas of Kansas, it can be a terrifying experience.  Everyday upstanding citizens from all walks of life are cited or arrested for DUI, including professionals, police officers, judges, teachers and those in virtually all occupations.  When you are stopped by the police and know you have been drinking, there is an understandable tendency to panic.  However, the way you respond when you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer can play a significant role in determining whether you spend the night at home or in a county jail cell.  At the Sedgwick County DUI defense law firm of Cummings and Cummings, we see many clients that make critical errors because they are overwhelmed by stress and fear during a traffic stop after consuming alcohol.  We have provided a number of answers to common questions we see about how to handle a DUI stop.

Take a Deep Breath and Relax: This suggestion is far more important than you might think when it comes to avoiding a DUI arrest and/or conviction.  Drivers often presume that most DUI stops all proceed along a fixed pattern: (1) stop, (2) discussion, (3) field sobriety testing, (4) breath testing of BAC and (5) arrest.  Many times when officers pull over a driver, they do not have sufficient legal justification to conduct BAC testing or field sobriety testing.  The officer will look for physical signs of intoxication like watery red eyes, slurred speech or the odor of alcohol to justify initiating a DUI investigation.  If you act unusually nervous or evasive, the officer may attempt to use this to justify prolonging the stop and investigating further.

Do Not Be a Chatty Kathy: This may be the biggest mistake made by motorists stopped by police in Sedgwick County.  Many people assume that if they are cooperative the officer will be more likely to let them go.  The exact opposite is true!  If you admit to drinking, using prescription drugs or consuming a controlled substance, the officer will often use this information to initiate a DUI investigation and present this information in court.  While you must provide your Kansas driver’s license when lawfully stopped, you do not have to answer questions about where you are coming from or whether you have been drinking.  One way to handle these questions is to indicate you would like to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.  It is also worthwhile to ask if you are free to leave.

Just Say No: The officer may ask you to submit to field sobriety testing or a field blood alcohol concentration (BAC) breath test.  If you have had anything to drink or taken any form of drug prior to driving, you should respectfully decline to participate.  These tests are used to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest.  Voluntarily participating in these tests in the field may provide additional evidence against you while offering no benefit to you.

Be Courteous: While law enforcement officers are not supposed to arrest you for being rude, they are normal people who may be controlled by their emotions.  If you are argumentative and verbally hostile, this may escalate a situation and give the officer reason to look extra close for a reason to arrest you.

Admittedly, these suggestions are simple and fairly straightforward, but many motorists fail to observe these practices when overwhelmed by the stress of flashing red lights and an armed police officer.  If you or a close family member have been arrested for DUI, experienced Sedgwick County DUI defense attorney Bill Cummings provides a diligent defense to protect his clients from the harsh penalties of a Kansas DUI conviction.  We offer a free initial consultation that is absolutely confidential so call us today at 316-264-1548 to learn how we can hel

Recovering for Kansas Motorcycle Accident Injuries When You Are At-Fault

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Some motorcyclists and their families presume that riders cannot recover financial compensation for their injuries if the rider makes a mistake that contributes to a motorcycle collision.  This mistaken assumption is important because operator error is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents that cause severe injury and wrongful death in Kansas and throughout the country.  Although mistakes made by an inexperienced rider may impact the amount of a motorcyclist’s recovery, this does not mean it will bar financial recovery by a personal injury victim entirely.

When a motorcyclist makes a mistake that constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm to the rider, the insurance company for the driver of a passenger vehicle will often assert the defense of comparative negligence.  Kansas is one of several dozen “modified comparative fault” jurisdictions.  This rule permits a motorcyclist who is found by a judge or jury to have been negligent by failing to take reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injury to oneself to have a percentage of fault assigned to both the injury victim and the defendant.

While assigning fault to a motorcyclist who was traveling to fast given wet road conditions, for example, may result in a reduction in recovery in proportion to the motorcycle accident victim’s percentage of fault, it will not necessarily result in a complete bar to monetary recovery.  The passenger vehicle may have violated the rider’s right of way at an intersection resulting in the rider losing control when trying to swerve to avoid a collision.  While the rider may have laid the bike down, the judge or jury may determine the rider would have been able to successfully execute the evasive maneuver at a safe speed.

In a situation like the one above, the judge or jury may assign a degree of fault to both the driver who violated right of way and the motorcyclist who was driving at an excessive rate of speed given road conditions.  If the amount of fault assigned to the motorcyclist is 49 percent or less, the rider will have his or her damages reduced according to the percentage of fault assigned to the motorcycle enthusiast.  If the degree of fault assigned to the rider is fifty percent or more, this typically will result in a complete defense so that the rider cannot recover monetary compensation.

Because the issue of determining responsibility and allocating fault between the parties to a Kansas motorcycle collision is complicated, an injured rider should never rely solely on the determination of fault by the police officer who investigates the collision.  Even if the law enforcement accident report concludes that you were at-fault or you were given a traffic ticket, you should seek legal advice from an experienced Kansas motorcycle accident attorney.  Sometimes the preliminary assessment of a Kansas motorcycle accident by a law enforcement officer is inaccurate so our motorcycle accident law firm may conduct an independent investigation, frequently using our own motorcycle accident reconstruction experts.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a motorcycle accident in Kansas, experienced motorcycle accident lawyer William Cummings is committed to representing motorcycle accident victims in Wichita and throughout Sedgwick County and the surrounding areas of Kansas and seeking the compensation they need to rebuild their lives.  We offer a free initial consultation so that we can answer your questions and evaluate your legal claim so call us today at 316-264-1548.