Archive for September, 2013

How Does a Traffic Stop Turn Into a DUI Investigation?

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Anyone who has ever been stopped by the police recognizes that awful sinking feeling that occurs when you see those flashing lights in your rear view mirror.  As you find a safe spot to pull over on the side of the road, your mind may be racing, leaving you wondering why the police officer is pulling you over, or whether you are able to talk yourself out of this one.  As the officer approaches your vehicle, you may begin to think about whether this will be a simple traffic stop or not. You may also wonder whether anything about you, your vehicle, or the way you were driving will flip that magic switch of “probable cause” that will turn your traffic stop into something that no one wants to experience – a DUI investigation.

Why do some traffic stops proceed seamlessly, with the driver being given a warning or a ticket and then being released back onto the roadway within minutes while other drivers are detained on the side of the road for what seems like an eternity, questioned endlessly about things that seem inconsequential, and asked to perform a battery of tests that the motorist does not know whether or not to refuse? It all comes down to whether or not the police officer develops probable cause to believe that some other crime (such as driving under the influence of alcohol) is being committed.

While a police officer is conducting a traffic stop, they make observations about the driver. Sometimes, there is something obvious that would lead the police officer to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, such as an open beer can in the cup holder or a smell of alcohol so strong on the driver’s breath that the officer can smell it as soon as the driver rolls down the window. Sometimes, the observations that a police officer consider to be probable cause are less obvious. Things like watery eyes or slurred speech may indicate impairment due to alcohol consumption, or, they could be completely unrelated to alcohol consumption and caused by something like seasonal allergies or a speech impediment.

Kansas drivers should be aware that there are things other than physical observations which can give an officer probable cause to continue the traffic stop as a DUI investigation. One important thing to note is that officers routinely ask drivers whether they have had anything to drink, even if they have no suspicion that the driver has been drinking. If a driver admits to having had any amount of alcohol whatsoever, the officer may continue the traffic stop as a DUI investigation regardless of how little alcohol was consumed or how long ago it is reported to have been consumed. What you may not know is that you, as a driver, have the right to remain silent in response to an inquiry about whether you have consumed any alcohol. Simply and politely inform the officer that you wish to consult with your attorney before answering that question.

The knowledgeable Kansas DUI attorneys at Cummings & Cummings, LLC know that many more drivers are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol than are actually driving around while they are intoxicated. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, our dedicated team of Kansas DUI lawyers will work diligently to protect your rights and defend you against DUI charges. Contact us today at (316) 264-1548 to learn about your rights and options.

Staying Safe During Harvest Time

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

As the warmth of summer gives way to the cool, crisp air of autumn, farmers and other workers who are bringing in this year’s harvest are working hard to bring in this year’s crops. Harvest season is a busy time of year, and for anyone working in the agricultural sector, it can be a dangerous time of year as well.  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), agriculture is one of the most dangerous types of work in the United States. Between the many varieties of heavy equipment that are used for harvesting various crops to the grueling schedules that many workers keep during harvest time, the potential for injury during the harvest season is at an all – time high. Here are a few tips for staying safe as you bring in the harvest.

  • One of the major causative factors in serious farming-related accidents is fatigue. Farming is hard work, physical work, and many farmers and farm workers work long hours. Unfortunately, when you combine fatigue with large, heavy machinery, the results can be disastrous. Keep yourself and others around you safe by getting adequate rest, and taking regular breaks to eat and drink so that you do not experience the dangerous effects of fatigue on the job.
  • During harvest season, there is definitely a feeling that you have to get the job done, and get it done quickly. While the changing of the seasons does create somewhat of a time crunch, it is important that you do not allow the time pressure of the tasks at hand to cause you to cut corners or take risks. If an action would be unsafe at any other time of year, it is just as unsafe right now, even if it could save you a few minutes of your time. If you are tempted to take risks to save time, remember that an accident or injury would bring your work to a halt, and you could have to spend a significant amount of time recovering from it.
  • Another danger of harvest season is that you may now be using equipment that you have not used since last year at this time, or, you may be using equipment that you have never used before if your equipment is new or borrowed. Using equipment when you are unfamiliar with its operation can be dangerous. Although it takes a little time to read instruction manuals and familiarize yourself with the operation of a piece of farm machinery, it is essential that you do so, so that you will be able to operate it safely.
  • While checking your harvesting equipment before each operating session may seem like a time-consuming chore, it can help to prevent accidents and injuries, and could even reduce downtime due to breakdowns in the field. It is much easier to fix a part that is coming loose when you discover it during a routine check of your equipment than it is to locate and replace that same part if it falls off or breaks while you are operating the machine.

Our Kansas personal injury attorneys at Cummings & Cummings, LLC know that many serious injuries occur during the busy fall harvest season. If you have been injured in a harvesting – related accident, our dedicated team of Kansas personal injury lawyers will work diligently to obtain the compensation that you need to rebuild your life.  We have over 30 years of combined litigation experience, so contact us today at 316-264-1548 to learn about your rights and options.

Winter Weather is Just One Thing to Watch Out for on Kansas Roads

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the weather is getting more and more unpredictable. Wet leaves and rainy weather pose hazards to Kansas motorists during the autumn months, and the ice and snow of winter will be here in the not – too – distant future. Whether the roads are slick because of rain, wet leaves, ice, or snow, one thing remains constant during all seasons – many motorists fail to adjust their driving to the road conditions that are present at the time that they are traveling. This creates a danger not only for them, but for the other motorists with whom they share the road, including you.

While you may pay close attention to the look and feel of the road surface while you are driving, you cannot always be assured that other drivers are taking the same precautions. Research has actually shown that many more drivers than you might think fail to adjust their driving to slippery road conditions by doing things like increasing the distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them and reducing their speed. In fact, the other drivers with whom you share the road may pose an even greater hazard to you and your family than the actual road conditions themselves.

As you might imagine, the beginning of the winter driving season is the time during which the most accidents occur. As the weather transitions from fall into winter, drivers must adapt to the changes in road conditions. This often takes some time, and unfortunately, creates an even greater risk of accidents and injury as this adaptation occurs. Another complicating factor is that at the start of the winter driving season, inexperienced drivers who have yet to drive on icy or snow covered roads are learning first – hand what it is like to drive in those conditions. This creates additional risk for them, and for you, if you are sharing the road with them.

While you may not always be able to protect yourself from the risks posed by wet roads, ice and snow, and other drivers who are driving badly, knowing the risks can help you to be more aware of exactly what it means to be driving in Kansas during the fall and winter months. If you are involved in an accident, be sure to get help right away if you are injured. Also, do not speak to anyone from the other motorist’s insurance company. They do not have your best interest in mind, and they are hoping to resolve your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible, perhaps even before the full extent of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle have been determined. Contact a Kansas automobile accident attorney right away to ensure that your rights and interests are protected every step of the way.

The knowledgeable Kansas auto accident attorneys at Cummings & Cummings, LLC know that many drivers of passenger vehicles put other motorists at risk when they fail to adjust their driving to the weather conditions at hand, especially during cold and snowy winter weather. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, our dedicated team of Kansas automobile accident lawyers will work diligently to obtain the compensation that you need to recover both physically and financially from your accident.  We have over 30 years of combined litigation experience so contact us today at (316) 264-1548 to learn about your rights and options.