Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in Kansas regardless of whether the driver's impairment was the result of alcohol or drugs. But the laws in Kansas sometimes apply differently depending on whether the offense involved alcohol or drugs. This article explains when a person can be convicted of drugged driving and the possible penalties for a conviction.
Kansas' DUI laws prohibit driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of any drug that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle.
Impairment. Kansas doesn't have a per se limit on drug consumption (akin to the .08% blood alcohol concentration limit). To convict a driver of drugged driving, the prosecutor must prove that the consumed drugs caused impairment to the extent it rendered the driver incapable of safe driving. Proof of impairment might include blood test results, expert testimony, and the observations of the arresting officers such as unsteady eye movement and slurred speech.
Drugs. The impairing drug doesn't have to be an illicit drug like marijuana or cocaine but can also be prescription medication and even an over-the-counter drug. The fact that a driver held a valid prescription isn't a defense to an impaired driving charge in Kansas.
Drugged driving is generally a misdemeanor and the penalties are basically the same as those for drunk driving.
First offense. A first drugged driving offense is a class B misdemeanor and carries 48 hours to six months in jail and $750 to $1,000 in fines. Some offenders will be eligible for house arrest or community service in lieu of jail. The driver's license will also be suspended for 30 days, followed by six months with an ignition interlock device (IID).
Second offense. A second drugged driving offense will be a class A misdemeanor and carries 90 days to one year in jail (with a minimum of five days before probationary release is allowed) and $1,250 to $1,750 in fines. The driver's license will be suspended for one year, followed by one year with an IID.
All offenders must also obtain an alcohol and drug abuse evaluation as part of sentencing. The court will review the recommendations of the evaluator and can order drug treatment or education courses.
During the DUI investigation, the officer will likely ask the driver to submit to a blood or urine test. Generally, refusing a chemical test request will result in a one-year license suspension, followed by two years with an IID. Since Kansas has no per se limit on drug metabolites, a chemical test showing drugs will not result in immediate administrative penalties (but can be used at a criminal trial).