Even though most people associate a DUI (driving under the influence) charge with alcohol, Kansas law also prohibits driving under the influence of drugs. Drugged driving charges, sometimes referred to as DUID, involve operating a vehicle when under the influence of legal or illegal drugs to an extent that renders the driver incapable of driving safely. Penalties and consequences for DUID are just as severe as those for DUI for alcohol. If you face a DUID charge, getting help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer is essential.
The same statutory section that applies to DUI for alcohol, K.S.A. 8-1567, applies to driving under the influence of drugs. The relevant parts of the law provide that the offense of driving under the influence includes a driver being:
(4) under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle; or
(5) under the influence of a combination of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle
Subsection (c) of the law provides that legal use of drugs is not a defense to a DUID charge. So even if a driver is using legal prescription or nonprescription drugs, a violation of the prohibition is possible.
Penalties for DUID violations are the same as for DUI for alcohol. The first and second offenses are misdemeanors. The third and subsequent offenses are felonies. Penalties increase with successive violations.
The Kansas implied consent law applies to drugged driving in the same way as it does for alcohol DUI. If police suspect a person of driving under the influence of drugs, chemical tests of blood, breath, urine, or another bodily substance may be used to determine the presence of drugs.
Unlike DUI for alcohol, the statutory provisions for DUID do not contain specific drug amounts that constitute driving under the influence. Based on the statutory provisions, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was under the influence of drugs to the extent of being incapable of safely driving the vehicle. Breaking down the elements of the offense, that requires the prosecutor to demonstrate that: 1) The driver operated (or attempted to operate) a vehicle; 2) The driver was under the influence of a drug while driving; and 3) The drug rendered the driver incapable of driving safely.
The standard for proving DUID provides a wide range of potential defense strategies for challenging a drugged driving charge. As in every DUI case for alcohol or drugs, the best defenses in a specific case depend significantly on the actual facts and circumstances of the case. But there are areas for investigation and defense development that apply in any case.
Evidence relating to the driver’s capacity to drive safely often involves testimony of police officers involved in the arrest and investigation, as well as the results of any chemical tests that show the presence of a drug. In both regards, the accuracy of testimony and appropriateness of the conduct of the officers can be evaluated through a thorough investigation and examination of other evidence, such as eyewitness testimony or videotapes of the incident that may be available.
The results of chemical tests in a DUID case can be open to challenge for several reasons, including the type and amount of drug. Many drugs and medications vary widely in terms of the effect on a certain individual and the extent to which the drug influences the physical capabilities of a person, which may make chemical test results an unreliable method of demonstrating the incapacity to drive.
Proving impairment by drugs to the extent of incapacity is a very subjective standard, which provides an experienced DUI attorney with a wide range of ways to defend against a DUID charge. If you face a DUID charge, it’s crucial to talk with a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI defense at the soonest opportunity.
You should never plead guilty or attempt to negotiate your own resolution with the prosecutor or law enforcement. Doing so can put you in an even worse position. Since even a single DUI conviction on a person’s record carries negative consequences beyond the criminal penalties that result, getting help from a lawyer in defending against a DUID charge is essential.
From our offices in Topeka and Lawrence, our experienced DUI defense attorneys at Sloan Law Firm assist clients throughout Kansas. We invite you to contact us by calling (785) 357-6311 or using our online contact form.