Archive for March, 2014

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Colorado was the first state in the country to pass legislation that legalizes the recreational use of marijuana. Since then, Washington State has also legalized recreational marijuana use. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books that legalize marijuana for medical use. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above .08 percent. However, the states vary widely on what is considered acceptable as far as driving under the influence of drugs.

Colorado has just launched a million dollar advertising campaign which warns drivers that choose to drive “high” or under the influence of marijuana that they will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence or DUI. Much like drivers who choose to drink alcohol and drive, Colorado is cracking down on those drivers who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of mari0juana. In both Colorado and Washington, lawmakers have decided that motorists that are found to have 5 nanograms or more of active tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as “THC” (the active ingredient in marijuana), are considered to be driving under the influence. In Washington State if a driver is found to have 5 nanograms or more he or she is automatically equals a DUI. In Colorado, a motorist that has 5 or more nanograms of THC in his or her system, has the opportunity in in court to try to rebut the presumption that he or she was impaired at the time he or she was arrested.

However, in states like Kansas, both the recreational use of marijuana and marijuana for medical use are both illegal. Kansas law also provides that is it illegal to operate a motor vehicle if a person is under the influence of a drug or a combination of drugs, which cause the person to be incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. Kansas law does not differentiate between legal drugs, like a doctor prescribed medication and an illegal drug like cocaine or marijuana. Therefore, the law does not care if a person was high on his or her legally prescribe Vicodin or high on marijuana.

Unlike states like Colorado, that specifically set limits about how much of a drug, like THC, is needed be in the blood to be considered impaired, in Kansas there is no specific limit of how much of a drug must be in a person’s system to be considered legally impaired. Unlike alcohol, which has a clear cut .08 BAC there is no such equivalent for drug use. This means that an officer’s decision to arrest is based mostly on his or her observations of the motorist. This law is different from more than 10 states that consider a person to be driving under the influence of drugs if the person tests positive for any measurable amount of an illegal drug or other controlled substance.

If you were arrested on suspicious of being high or under the influence of drugs or alcohol and charged with a DUI you need a seasoned advocate to protect your rights. For more than thirty years, Kansas Criminal Defense Attorney Charles E. Whitman has been defending men and women charged with DUI. To schedule your free confidential consultation contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460. At the Whitman Law Offices, we make sure that you receive superior legal services. We take the take the time to advise you on the law and thoroughly the facts related to your case. You can trust the Whitman Law Offices to explore all defenses.

What You Need to Know about Newly Proposed Kansas DUI Legislation

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

If you are charged with driving under the influence or DUI, one of the first things your attorney will do is to research the law as it relates to the facts of your particular case. Since both lawmakers and the courts are continually modifying and/or clarifying the law, it is critical for any attorney to stay on top of the changes in the laws that affect the areas in which he or she practices. Presently there are two proposed laws that are working their way through the Kansas legislature that if passed, could affect current DUI laws. The following is a little background about the two proposed pieces of legislation:

House Bill 2479

In 2011 a law was enacted that changed the administrative penalties for those persons with either a first test failure or a first time DUI related conviction, by requiring those persons to have an ignition interlock restriction on their driver’s license. Under the current law, which is said to expire on July 1, 2015, a person would have his or her driver’s license suspended for 30 days and thereafter a 180-day ignition interlock driving restriction. If the legislature would fail to act before the law “sunsets” the law would revert back to the old law. Under the old law, a person would have his or her license suspended for the same 30 days, but thereafter would have a 330 day driving restriction which would limit the person’s driving to certain purposes (i.e. to and from work). The old law did however, give a person the option of having an ignition interlock device installed. One of the largest supporters of removing the sunset provision entirely, which would keep the new law in place without an expiration date, is Mothers against Drunk Driving or MADD as they are more commonly known.

House Bill 2662

Under the current law, a person convicted of DUI or a diversion for DUI may bring a petition to have his or her conviction or diversion expunged from his or her criminal record after a period of ten years from the date of in which the person either satisfied his or her sentence or term of diversion. One part of the proposed new law would reduce the expungement period for DUI. When the bill was first introduced it suggested reducing the expungement period from ten years to three years. However, the bill was later amended to five years which would make the expungement period for DUI the same as for other habitual violator offenses.

The other major part of this bill targets the expungement period for test refusal. Test refusal refers to the charge a person receives if he or she does not submit to a breath, urine or blood test that would determine the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) or the presence of drugs or other controlled substances. Under the proposed law the expungement period for those persons with either a conviction or a diversion for test refusal, would increase from three years to five years. If the bill passes as it currently stands, the expungement period for DUI conviction or conversion, would be the same as for test refusal.

If you have been charged with DUI or another drug or alcohol related offense, you need a skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorney on your side. Only an experienced DUI defense attorney can properly advise you of your legal rights and best advise you as to your options under the law. For more than 35 years, the Whitman Law Offices has been aggressively defending DUI clients. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460. We can also make arrangements to visit you in jail. Trust the seasoned professionals at the Whitman Law Offices to provide you with exceptional legal services.

When it Comes to DUI, Knowing the Law is Not Enough

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Driving under the influence is a crime that most people never intend to commit. Nonetheless, every year thousands of drivers in Kansas are arrested and charged with DUI. The crazy part about drunken driving is the people who are arrested know that it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. However, despite knowing the law people still continue to choose to drink and drive. So when it comes to avoiding a DUI charge it is not enough to know that operating a vehicle with a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or more is against the law.

Clearly, knowing the law was not the problem for Missouri attorney, David Murdick. The 36-year old lawyer was sentenced in early March to nine years in prison for the death of Clifton Scott. In September of 2012, Scott, a 15 year veteran of the Missouri Department of Transportation, was at the scene of an accident on Interstate 70. Scott, a motorist assist operator, had just finished off blocking off a portion of the interstate with traffic cones and flares so as to alert other motorists of the accident, when he was struck by Murdick’s car. Murdick also hit Scott’s truck causing it to burst into flames. The 50 year old man and father was killed at the scene. It was later determined that Murdick had a BAC of .184, which is more than twice the legal limit in Missouri. Murdick was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, a crime that carries a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison. In January of this year, Murdick pled guilty to the charges. The husband and father of three children did not offer any excuses about his decision to drink and drive the night he hit Scott. The family of Clifton Scott urged all motorists not to drink and drive.

Obviously, David Murdick knew that is was against the law to drink and drive. Murdick admitted his responsibility for Mr. Scott’s death at his sentencing. However, all too often motorists choose to drink and drive, potentially putting their own lives and the lives of others in danger. If you are considering drinking, stop and consider the alternatives:

  • Take public transportation: Depending on where you live, there are different forms of public transportation available. Before heading out for the night, take a copy of the bus schedule with you.
  • Call for a ride: If you are not able to legally operate a motor vehicle, call someone for a ride. Maybe a friend or family member can pick you up. If no friends or family are available, you can always call a cab. In some cases a $20 to $60 cab ride can be the difference between leading a normal life and spending 5 to 15 years or more in prison.
  • Walk: If you cannot find a ride, maybe you can simply walk home.
  • Hotel or stay with a friend: If you cannot walk to your house, you can always walk to hotel or crash at a friend’s house for evening.

If you are an attorney or other professional who has been charged with driving while under the influence you need an experienced and skilled DUI attorney. For more than three decades, Kansas DUI Attorney Charles E. Whitman has defended individuals whose licenses and careers depend on a clean criminal record. As a seasoned litigator and skilled DUI defense attorney, Charles E. Whitman will fight to protect your rights and your reputation. Contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free and confidential consultation. At the Whitman Law Offices, we pride ourselves on providing clients with superior legal services.

A Kansas DUI Can Happen to Anyone

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

At some point in life, even if only for a few moments, everyone has wondered what it would like to be famous. Maybe you imagined yourself as a beautiful actress or hunky actor, or maybe a musician or even a politician. Sometimes we think that one of the perks of being “rich and famous” is that you do not have to follow the same rules as those who are not rich and/or famous. Although stars may catch a few breaks, when it comes to DUI, even celebrities pay the price. Here are recent celebrities that made headlines when they were arrested for DUI:

  • Sarah Bruce: Sarah Bruce, the wife of Kansas Senator Terry Bruce was arrested in December of 2013 for suspicion of DUI with a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .159, well above the .08 Kansas limit. According to the arrest report, Mrs. Bruce failed to submit to a full DUI test. In accordance with a law enacted in 2012, which Senator Bruce voted in favor, that increased the penalties for a BAC over .15, Mrs. Bruce may have her driver’s license suspended for one year. The case is still pending.
  • Justin Bieber: In January, the then 19-year old pop star was arrested in Miami for DUI after failing a field sobriety test. Police also noted that Bieber had blood shot eyes and the odor of alcohol on his breath. According to police, Bieber also admitted to having consumed some amount of alcohol, smoked marijuana and had taken some prescription drugs. Bieber was initially pulled over after an officer noticed his yellow Lamborghini drag racing a red Ferrari in a residential neighborhood. Bieber has pleaded not guilty to the DUI charges and his case is set for trial in May.
  • Amanda Bynes: The twenty eight year old actress was arrested in 2012, after hitting a police car in West Hollywood, and charged with DUI. In February of this year Ms. Bynes pleaded “no contest” in a Los Angeles courtroom. The former Nickelodeon star was sentenced to three years probation and must attend a three month long alcohol education course.
  • Chris Pine: Chris Pine is an actor most well-known for his role in the Star Trek movies as Captain Kirk. The actor was arrested in New Zealand on suspicion of DUI after attending a party celebrating the end of filming of his new movie. In the early morning hours, Pine was stopped while going through a sobriety check point. When asked by police if he had been drinking that evening, Mr. Pine admitted to police that he had four cocktails. Police determined that Mr. Pine had a .11 blood alcohol content (BAC) which is above the legal limit in New Zealand of .08, which is the same limit as in the United States. Through his attorney, Pine admitted to the New Zealand court that he made a mistake choosing to drive the night he was arrested. Mr. Pine pled guilty to DUI charges and was fined $79 and had his New Zealand driver’s license suspended for 6 months.

The moral of these stories is that DUI can happen to you whether you are male or female, young or old, rich or poor, famous or virtually unknown. With this in mind, if you have been charged with DUI you need an experienced and knowledgeable Kansas DUI Attorney. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call us today at (785) 843-9460 or visit us online. We can also make arrangements to visit you in jail. With over 35 years of experience, attorney Charles E. Whitman of the Whitman Law Offices, will thoroughly review your case with you to make sure that you understand of all of your legal options.