Kansas DUI Defense Attorney Discusses Recent Important Supreme Court Decision

The Kansas Supreme Court hears cases on many different types of legal matters. Recently, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a decision which may be of interest to anyone who has recently been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, it may be of interest to all drivers, because it addresses police procedures during traffic stops.

In its recent decision, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed a DUI conviction after determining that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion that the driver was intoxicated. The driver had been convicted by the Sedgwick County District Court of driving under the influence of alcohol after failing a field sobriety test.

Field sobriety tests are just one of the tools that law enforcement officers are supposed to use in determining whether they believe that a driver is intoxicated. In their interactions with drivers, law enforcement officers have an opportunity to observe the presence or absence of things like slurred speech and the smell of alcohol, which may indicate that a driver is intoxicated. When officers ask drivers to participate in field sobriety tests, they gather additional information which can, when taken together with other observations either provide probable cause to make an arrest or lead to a conclusion that the driver should not be arrested because there is not a reasonable suspicion that they have consumed alcohol.

In Kansas, law enforcement officers presently use a group of three field sobriety tests to assess drivers during traffic stops, but that may be changing soon. Currently, officers ask drivers to perform the one leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze Nystagmus vision test. The vision test is not admissible as evidence at trial, nor is it recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a reliable indicator of sobriety, but it is still widely used by law enforcement officers for the purpose of roadside sobriety testing. However, in light of the recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, the vision test may eventually become a thing of the past. In the case that was before the court, the driver had passed both the one leg stand test and the walk and turn test, but he had failed the horizontal gaze Nystagmus vision test. According to the Kansas Supreme Court, the driver’s overall performance on the group of three field sobriety tests did not provide the officer with the probable cause that was required to justify giving the driver a Breathalyzer test.

If you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, there is a lot at stake. A DUI can not only affect your license and your liberty, it can affect your ability to earn a living, secure housing, and do other things. A Kansas DUI defense attorney may be able to help you to reduce or eliminate the negative consequences associated with being charged with a DUI. To learn more about what a Kansas DUI Defense Attorney can do for you, please call our Wichita office today at (316) 264-1548.