Archive for June, 2014

Tips for Having a Safe and DUI-Free 4th of July Holiday

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Fourth of July is arguably one of the best holidays of the year. What can be more exciting than a summer day spent with family and friends, enjoying a barbecue and relaxing by a pool or lake in the sunshine? Of course, no Independence Day celebration would be complete without an evening watching a fireworks display. This year, July 4th will be even more festive than usual, as the holiday falls on a Friday creating a three day weekend for many people. If you are in the process of planning your 4th of July holiday weekend, make sure your plans include arrangements to get home safely in the event you plan to drink. No one wants a DUI to be a part of his or her Independence Day festivities. To ensure that you enjoy a safe and DUI-free holiday try to follow these tips:

  • Stay hydrated. If your idea of a holiday celebration includes baking and boozing in the sunshine or opting for a liquid lunch, you may want to reconsider your plans. Alcohol and heat do not mix. Not only are you more likely to become intoxicated more quickly in the hot summer sun, you are also more susceptible to heat stroke and other heat related illnesses. This is in part because alcohol is a diuretic. If choose to drink alcohol, alternate your alcoholic beverages with plenty of water or sports drinks and make sure you have a full stomach. It is also a good idea to take frequent breaks in shade to escape the sun’s rays.
  • Be wise about sobriety checkpoints. You can pretty much count on the fact that Kansas police will set up various sobriety checkpoints around the area, to catch those folks who have chosen to drink and drive. Regardless of whether you are stone cold sober or had a couple of drinks, sobriety checkpoints tend to cause many drivers anxiety. Remember, it is not illegal to have a drink and drive. So the best way to approach a checkpoint is with a calmly and without an attitude. Be prepared to hand the officer your registration and driver’s license. However, you can politely decline to answer questions such as, where you were that evening or if you have been drinking. You are also well within your right to choose not to participate in any field sobriety tests.
  • Remember the same rules apply on both land and at sea. If your 4th of July plans include hopping on a boat—keep in mind that the laws regarding operating a boat are the same as the laws regarding operating a motor vehicle. It is illegal to operate both a car and a boat while intoxicated. If you plan to go out on a boat, make sure the driver of the boat is committed to remaining sober.
  • Do not drive while under the influence: The best advice to avoid a possible DUI is to not drink and drive. If you plan to drink over the 4th of July weekend, then plan to take a cab or arrange for alternate transportation home. The few dollars you would spend on a cab ride is far less than the thousands of dollars a DUI could cost you.

If you were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or DUI over the holiday weekend, you need to speak with an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Only a skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorney can inform you of your rights and determine what legal defenses you may have. Attorney Charles Whitman has provided clients with aggressive DUI representation for more than 35 years. To schedule your free and completely confidential consultation, contact the veteran team of Kansas DUI Defense Attorneys at the Whitman Law Offices by calling (785) 843-9460.

Can Your Smart Phone Help Save You from a DUI?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Whether you are 14 or 41, chances are that you own a smart phone. Smart phones can do some amazing things—much more than store and call phone numbers. Today, people rely on smart phone apps to help them lose weight, serve as vehicles for social networking and for turn-by-turn navigation. Each and every day it seems that a new app is developed, designed to make our lives easier. But could an app help you avoid a charge for driving under the influence or DUI?

Imagine this scenario. You are walking to your car after an evening out with friends. As you make your way to the spot where you parked your car, you start recalling the events of the night, including how many drinks you consumed.  You silently wonder if you are “okay” to drive. Do you hop in the car and hope that you are under the legal limit of .08 or do you call a friend to pick you up? Would it not be nice to be able to reach in your pocket and ask your smart phone if you are okay to drive? Well, it is possible. Several companies have developed smart phone apps that claim to be able to help you determine your blood alcohol content or BAC so that you decide whether you are ok to drive home. While some apps are touted to be better than others, none of them guarantee that you are truly “okay” to drive. Before you consider downloading one of these apps, carefully consider the following:

  • You do not need an app if you are a responsible consumer of alcohol and/or choose not to drink and drive.
  • Be suspicious of any app that claims to help you in the event you are pulled over by a police officer for suspicion of DUI. A cell phone is not going to be of much help in that scenario. You do not want to be fumbling with a phone while an officer is talking to you.
  • Although driving while intoxicated is against the law in all 50 states, certain apps are designed based on one state’s particular laws. So for example, an app based on Iowa law is not going to be of much assistance in Kansas. Keep in mind that even if the app is geared to your state’s laws, the app may not be up-to-date.

Remember, that a DUI is a serious offense. Rather than rely on an app that may or may not work—stick with a tried and true method. One “old-fashioned” way people go about avoiding a DUI is by selecting a person at the beginning of the evening who will not drink to serve as a designated driver for everyone who is drinking. Another great idea is to plan to hail a cab or catch the bus. While these two methods may not be as trendy as a smart phone app, they are much more reliable! Do not let any app replace your own common sense!

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI do not consult a cell phone app! Only a real and experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney can advise you of your rights and provide you with aggressive representation. For more than 35 years, residents of Lawrence and Northeast Kansas who have been charged with DUI have trusted the Whitman Law Offices to provide them with superior legal services. Call the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free and confidential consultation. If necessary, arrangements can be made to have one of our attorneys visit you at home or in jail.

A Failed BAC Test Does Not Always Equal a DUI in Kansas

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

All too often, drivers who have recently been arrested for a DUI think that they do not have a case because they did not pass the Breathalyzer test, or in other words, blew more than the .08 legal limit. Thinking they have “no case” these drivers then make the huge mistakes of choosing not to hire an attorney and to take the first deal offered to them by the prosecutor.  The mind set of these drivers is that they will be found guilty of DUI anyway, so it best to avoid the cost of an attorney and to get the matter over as quickly as possible. The truth of the matter, however, is that although a police officer has probable cause to arrest a driver if he or she has a blood alcohol content or “BAC” of .08 or higher, it does not necessarily mean that that driver will be found guilty of DUI.

How is this possible? Well, first remember that the State has the burden in any criminal case to prove the defendant guilty of the charge “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the State is unable to meet its burden, then the defendant is found to be “not guilty” of the charge. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest level of burden of proof that a prosecutor must meet. If a judge or jury feels that there is real doubt as to whether the defendant committed the crime, then the State has not met its burden and must find the defendant ‘not guilty’.

The job of any qualified DUI defense attorney is try to discover any facts that would give a Judge or a jury reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant committed a crime. One area where a skilled DUI defense attorney can cause reasonable doubt on the State’s case is by examining the details of the DUI arrest. By looking at the circumstances surrounding the arrest, a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney will be able to determine whether the police handled the arrest properly or if mistakes were made. First, the attorney will take a close look to determine if the police had the proper basis to pull the defendant over in the first place. In Kansas, a police officer must have a reasonable and articulable basis for a traffic stop. For example, if a driver is speeding the officer is justified in pulling over the car because the driver was breaking a traffic law. However, if the officer only had a “weird feeling” about the driver, then the stop would not be legal as the officer did not have proper cause to stop the driver. If the stop is not legal, then anything that follows thereafter, is not admissible in court. Next, the attorney will see if the officer administered the Breathalyzer test properly. If the test was not administered properly, then the test results can be excluded from evidence. This means that the judge or jury will not learn the results of the Breathalyzer test and without any other evidence to show that the defendant had a BAC at or above .08 it will be nearly impossible for the State to win the case.

If you have been arrested for DUI, the most important thing to remember is that even though your urine, blood or breath test came back above the legal limit, you still may have defenses which can allow you beat the charges against you. Before you consider pleading guilty to a DUI charge you owe it to yourself to consult with an accomplished Kansas DUI Defense Lawyer. Only an experienced Kansas DUI Defense attorney can determine whether the police made a mistake and uncover any other defenses. If you have been charged with DUI call the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

What You Need to Know About a 2nd Kansas DUI Charge

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Whether your first conviction for driving under the influence was two years ago or ten years ago, one thing remains the same—you have a DUI on your criminal record. If you are fortunate, your first DUI conviction will also be your last DUI conviction. But if you have found yourself in the not so fortunate situation where you have been arrested and charged with a second DUI, you need to be smart and act quickly.

The punishment for a second DUI conviction is even more severe than for a first DUI conviction. While a first conviction is considered a Class B misdemeanor, a second conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. When you are facing a second DUI conviction, it is critical that you find a qualified DUI defense attorney that has a deep understanding of Kansas DUI laws who can help you beat the charges, otherwise you could be facing the following penalties:

  • Fines: A second conviction comes with fines of not less than $1,250 but not more than $1,750. The fine is in addition to any court costs. In some instances fines can be “paid” with community service at a rate of $5 per hour, which would result in a total of 250 to 350 hours of service.
  • Driver’s license suspension: A person’s driving privileges will be suspended for a period of one year. After the one year suspension the person will need to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed on his or her vehicle, at his or her own expense, for at least one additional year following the suspension.
  • Term of imprisonment: The minimum sentence for a second conviction is not less than 90 days but can be as long as one year. A person must serve 5 consecutive days of his or her sentence before the person can be granted probation, or receive a suspension or reduction of a sentence. Under certain circumstances a person may be able to serve his or sentence under a work release program or under house arrest using an electronic monitoring device.
  • Treatment program: A person must participate in an alcohol and drug evaluation program at his or her own expense.

The important thing to remember whether you are facing your first, second or even fourth DUI charge is that the same rules apply. The State still needs to be able to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that you are guilty of each and every element of the offense of driving under the influence. The fact that you have a DUI conviction on your criminal record has no importance on whether you will be found guilty or not guilty of a subsequent DUI charge. The only thing that changes with each ensuing DUI conviction is the penalties upon conviction. Therefore, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney who can determine what defenses you may have to the charges. Do not make the mistake of taking the ‘deal’ offered by the prosecutor without first talking to a knowledgeable and reputable DUI defense attorney about your legal rights.

A repeat charge for driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense and with it comes harsh penalties. Therefore, it is best to trust only a skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorney to handle your case. Only an experienced Kansas DUI Defense attorney can properly advise you of your legal rights and uncover all possible defenses you may have. If you have been charged with your second DUI, call the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free and confidential consultation. Attorney Charles E. Whitman has more than 35 years of experience representing persons charged with DUI. You can trust the Whitman Law Offices to provide you with aggressive representation.