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Drunk Driving Defenses in Kansas

An officer must have reasonable cause to believe that an offender is operating or attempting to operate vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  This probable cause is usually satisfied if the driver is swerving, driving unevenly, driving slowly or erratically.  Also, another common sign that is relied upon is if the person runs a stop light or is cautious to drive when the light turns green. Also, once the driver has been stopped often behaviors may lead the enforcement officer to reasonably believe that the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs such as slurred speech, blurry eyes, inability to stand, nervousness, and perhaps even odors. To defend against this, the offender must provide some adequate reason for why they may have been driving or behaving in such a manner.  These may include but are not limited to circumstances such as driving while tired, a physical condition or sickness, allergies, poor vision, or even stress.

Another defense that one may try to argue is ineffective equipment or operator of equipment.  Kansas requires that the equipment as well as the operator undergo certification.  The officer that conducts the test must be trained and such information should be obtained to be certain that the person who conducted the test met the requirements.  Also, the procedures that the officer should follow are also regulated by the State; therefore, it may be a defense that while the equipment and officer met certification requirements, the procedure in which the test was carried out was incorrect. Also, prior to taking a test the officer is required to give oral and written notice.  While understanding is not required of the notice, failure to give notice may be an applicable defense.

Finally, standard sobriety tests are common for officers to request upon a driver they believe may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol in order to provide insight into whether or not the person is impaired.  These commonly include  the One Leg Stand test, the Walk the Line, and the Horizontal Gaze test. The officers should be trained in the tests; however the amount of experience can play a role in whether or not they will be considered determinative. These tests, such as the Horizontal Gaze test, require the officer to flash a light in someone’s face and follow it. If their eyes twitch, this is supposed to be a sign of impairment.  Defenses to the Horizontal Gaze test could include physical impairments such as poor sight.  Other defenses could include physical factors that make it difficult or impossible for the person to pass the tests in a sober state, such as inability to balance, age, or pre-existing injuries.

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