Kansas DUI Defense Attorney Discusses Stricter Penalties for DUIs that Result in Physical Harm

September 28th, 2015

As of 2013 in Kansas, a person commits the crime of aggravated battery while driving under the influence if,

  • Great bodily harm to another person or disfigurement of another person results from driving under the influence; or
  • Bodily harm to another person results from driving under the influence with the possibility that the act may cause great bodily harm, disfigurement, or death.

This summer, Governor Brownback signed House Bill 2055 into law which created harsher penalties for those who commit an aggravated battery DUI, or cause great bodily harm to someone while driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The new law is also known as “Mija’s Law.”

Tragically, Mija Stockman was a victim of a collision involving a drunk driver. In December 2013, Ms. Stockman sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident with Jeffery Davis, who at the time of the accident had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. Mr. Davis was convicted of aggravated battery while driving under the influence. It was the third time he had been convicted of driving under the influence. The judge ordered Davis to serve thirty four months in prison, but Kansas law also permitted the judge to place him on probation. Thus, while Mr. Davis only has to serve less than three years in prison, Ms. Stockman faces a lifetime of rehabilitation.

Mija’s Law created a special rule for determining a person’s criminal history for a conviction of aggravated battery while driving under the influence. The rule considers past DUI and DUI refusal offenses as felonies for sentencing purposes for DUI accidents that cause great physical harm or disfigurement to another person. The law also increases the severity classification of aggravated battery DUI that results in great bodily harm to a Level 4 person felony. This classification ensures that aggravated battery DUI offenders in Kansas are not eligible for probation.   The sentencing range has also been increased to 38 months to 172 months. The hope for the stricter penalties is that there will be a reduction in DUI accidents that cause severe and permanent bodily harm or disabilities.

Any driving under the influence charge should not be taken lightly. A DUI conviction can mean large fines, jail time, and can affect your ability to obtain and keep a job. Repeat DUI convictions, and DUIs that cause great bodily harm to another person carry even harsher penalties, including longer jail sentences, and ineligibility for probation. If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, or aggravated battery driving under the influence, be sure you consult with a seasoned Kansas DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Kansas DUI Defense Attorney Charles E. Whitman has more than thirty five years of criminal defense experience and is ready to help you fight your charge of driving under the influence. Call The Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 or toll free at (877) 933-4543 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

The Right to Consult A Kansas DUI Defense Attorney Under The Implied Consent Law

September 25th, 2015

In Kansas, any person who operates a vehicle in the state automatically gives consent to allow one or more tests of their blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs.  This law is also known as the Implied Consent Law.  The law also provides that the person must be given certain notices before a law enforcement officer administers such a test.

The notices include an advisement that “there is no constitutional right to consult with an attorney regarding whether to submit to testing.”  They must further state that “after the completion of the testing, the person has the right to consult with an attorney and may secure additional testing, which, if desired, should be done as soon as possible and is customarily available from medical care facilities willing to conduct such testing.”  In other words, a person has the right to consult with an attorney after they submit to a test that determines the presence of alcohol or drugs.

Before July of this year, it was unclear whether this post-testing right to counsel had to be invoked prior to the test or after test.  In Dumler v. Kansas Dept. of Revenue, the Kansas Supreme Court considered the issue of when a person must invoke this statutory right to counsel.  The Court held that a person has the right to request that he or she be allowed to consult with an attorney either before testing or after testing.  However, even though one may request to consult with an attorney prior to the test, they may not actually speak with an attorney until after the test is completed.  A person has no right to consult with counsel before deciding whether to take the requested alcohol testing.  The ruling by the Court only clarifies that if a person requests consultation with an attorney prior to the test, they do not have to again invoke the right after testing.

It is important to note that the Court also held that the implied consent advisory does not restrict the subject matter of a person’s attorney consultation, and certainly does not restrict the subject matter to a discussion of whether a person should undergo further testing.  Instead, the advisory provides that the person has the right to consult with an attorney and they may secure additional testing.  While consulting with an attorney about additional testing could be a good reason to exercise the right to counsel, the right is not conditioned upon a discussion of further testing.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence and you must undergo testing at the police station, be sure to know your rights.  You are entitled to consult with an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney after you complete the testing, but you may invoke this right either before and/or after the testing is administered.  With more than thirty five years of criminal defense experience, Charles E. Whitman is ready to help you fight your DUI charge.  Call The Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 or toll free at (877) 933-4543 to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

Kansas Drivers: How to Avoid Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Charge

September 30th, 2014

The majority of drivers arrested for DUI in the United States stem from the consumption of alcohol. However, this does not mean that drivers are not arrested for DUI due to drug usage. All states have laws that prohibit motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

In Kansas, the law specifically states that a person can be found guilty of a DUI if he or she is under the influence of “any drug or combination of drugs” or a “combination of drugs and alcohol” that renders the person incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. It is important to be aware that the statute states “any drug” which means that the statute does not limit the word “drug” to the use of illegal drugs or the illegal use of legal drugs. Therefore, it is important for every driver to understand the law regarding DUI and drugs, not just those individuals who engage in illegal drug use. The good news is that by following the below recommendations you can greatly reduce your risk of being charged with a DUI for drug use:

  • Read all drug labels carefully: Every drug comes not only with dosing instructions, but also with a list of side effects and warnings. Take the time to read all of the information printed on the bottle or that came with the medication. Taking more than the prescribed dose or failing to heed warnings like “do not operate a vehicle while taking this medication” can have life-altering side effects.
  • Be wary of new medications: When taking any new medication, make sure you refrain from driving until you understand how the drug affects you. Especially if the drug label indicates side effects that could interfere with your ability to operate a vehicle safely.
  • Do not become a “mixologist”: If you have or are already taking one prescription medication do not “mix” that medication with any other drug, or prescription or over-the-counter medication, unless you are assured by a doctor of pharmacist that the combination is safe. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol or even just another drug may cause you to experience side effects that you did not experience when taking the two drugs alone.
  • Consult a pharmacist or your doctor if in doubt: Before increasing your dosage or combining your medication with another drug, make sure you talk with a doctor or pharmacist. Also if you are experiencing unwanted side effects, your doctor may also be able to change either the medication or its dose. Do not drive until your doctor has corrected the problem.
  • Do not rely on “legal usage” as a defense: If you do not follow the above list of best practices and take even a doctor prescribed medication properly and are later arrested and charged with drugged driving, you cannot the fact that you were simply following the doctor’s orders as a defense to the charges.
  • WARNING to “habitual users”: Lastly, if you are a habitual user of any narcotic, hypnotic, somnifacient or stimulating drug, please be aware that Kansas law specifically prohibits you from operating a vehicle at any time.

If you have been arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs, the first thing you need to do is speak with an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney. Only a seasoned Kansas DUI Defense attorney will be able to properly evaluate your case and make sure that your rights are protected. For more than thirty five years attorney Charles E. Whitman has provided aggressive representation for individuals charged with DUI throughout Lawrence and Northeast Kansas. Contact The Whitman Law Offices at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free and confidential consultation. At The Whitman Law Offices we will make sure that you receive aggressive representation. But do not delay, call today!

Kansas DUI Defense Lawyer Asks: Will Your Kansas DUI Haunt You Forever?

September 20th, 2014

Halloween has always been about “treats” and “tricks,” but lately the holiday has also gained a reputation for drinking and driving and DUIs. While ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night are often the fodder for spooky Halloween tales, they cannot even begin to compare to the frightening realties that come with a DUI conviction. A DUI is a serious offense that can potentially haunt a person for years and years to come. The following are just a few ways a DUI can have an ongoing impact on the multiple aspects of a person’s life:

  • DUI Punishment: In the State of Kansas a first time DUI is considered to be a Class B nonperson misdemeanor. A conviction carries with it, a jail sentence of not less than 48 hours but not more than 6 months. Persons convicted will also have to pay fines between $750 and $1,000, not including court costs. If a person chooses to hire an attorney to represent his or her interests, he or she will also be responsible for the attorney’s fees.
  • Driver’s License: A person convicted of a DUI for the first time can expect to have his or her driver’s licenses suspended between 30 days and one year. Following the period of license suspension, a driver’s license will contain the restriction of an Ignition Interlock Device for a period of up to one year. There is also an installation and maintenance cost associated with this device.
  • Employment Opportunities: Having a DUI conviction on your criminal record can be a red flag to an employer and possibly bar a person from employment. It is only common sense that if an employer has two equally qualified prospective candidates for a job and one has a DUI conviction and the other has a clean record, that most likely the person without a criminal record will most likely be offered the job. This advice is especially true in competitive job markets. Not to mention, certain jobs require a person to have an active and unrestricted driver’s license—a qualification lacking from a person whose license is suspended for DUI.
  • Car Insurance: Car insurance rates for those drivers with a DUI conviction on their record tend to be higher than for drivers with a clean driving record. Insurance rates are calculated using risk formulas. If a person has a DUI he or she is a higher level risk for the company and therefore, will pay a higher premium.
  • Injuries to Self and/or Others: In some instances a person is only charged with a DUI after he or she is involved in a motor vehicle crash. In these cases the driver may suffer injuries as the result of the accident. He or she may also have to live with the fact that wreck injured or even killed another motorist or even a pedestrian.

If you were recently arrested and charged with a DUI you need to take this matter very seriously.  A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can have a major effect on your life and likely impact your future as well. That is why it is critical to consult with an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Only a skilled Kansas DUI Defense Lawyer will be able to thoroughly review your case and provide you with the answers you need. Contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free and confidential consultation. With more than 35 years of experience, attorney Charles E. Whitman is the attorney you can trust to provide you with aggressive representation.

Kansas DUI Defense Attorney Recommends You Bring Home Candy this Halloween, Not a Kansas DUI

September 15th, 2014

Halloween can be a “spook”tacular time of year. Even the sternest of grown-ups find it difficult to resist taking part in this holiday full of costumes and candy, pranks and pumpkins. It may be even fair to say that adults enjoy this holiday as much or even more than children. While Halloween can be a perfect time for an adult to let his or hair down and act like a kid playing dress up again, it is also a time for an adult to remember his or her responsibilities.

Halloween has become a holiday known for partying and drinking, which means it has also become infamous for DUIs as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Halloween has become a particularly deadly night due to the high number of drunk drivers and the increased number of pedestrians. Therefore, pre-Halloween is a great time to remind oneself of the realities of drinking and driving. Remember, it only take one drink too many to have an otherwise enchanting evening turn into something that resembles more of a grisly nightmare.

To ensure that you and all of the children out trick-or-treating make it home safely, follow these tips for a DUI-free Halloween:

  • Make a plan for the evening: Before heading out for the evening, make sure you determine how you will getting home. Do you plan to abstain from drinking or will you taking alternate transportation? If you plan to take a cab, have the numbers of a few companies in your wallet. Having a designated driver is another great option as well.
  • Have a back-up plan: Sometimes, even the most well thought out plans fail. Maybe you planned that your friend would serve as your designated driver, but he or she comes down with the flu at the last minute and cannot attend the party. This is why it is important to have a backup plan. A backup plan can be as simple as call a cab, spend the night with the host or spend the evening at a hotel. The good news is that all of these options are less costly than a DUI.
  • Have an insurance policy: If you are concerned that after a few drinks you may change your mind and think that you are okay to drive, you are not alone. Alcohol has a way of making people think that they are okay, when in fact they are quite impaired. If you think this could happen to you take a cab or ride with a friend to the party. This way you will cannot be tempted to drive.
  • Slow down, especially on residential streets: As you make your way around town this Halloween you need to be on the watch for the countless number of kids that will be trick-or-treating. Even the most sober of drivers, need to be on the watch for children, sometimes in dark costumes, who may have the tendency to cross in the middle of a street or even walk in the roadway.

If you are arrested for DUI this Halloween, make the right decision and contact an experienced Kansas DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Charles E. Whitman of the Whitman Law Offices has more than three decades of experience representing persons charged with driving under the influence. At the Whitman Law Offices you will receive quality representation from a seasoned Kansas DUI Defense Attorney. To schedule a free and confidential consultation today, contact the Whitman Law Offices at (785) 843-9460. There is no reason to delay contacting The Whitman Law Offices, arrangements can be made to visit you in jail if necessary.

Kansas DUI Attorney Discusses How You Can Be Arrested for DUI Without Ever Drinking a Drop

September 1st, 2014

Drinking and driving is a major offense that can cost a driver thousands of dollars, his or her license, and even his or her freedom for a period of time. While drinking and driving is a serious nationwide problem, this does not mean that there are not responsible drivers who follow the laws of the land. However, even motorists who are acutely aware of and take precautions to avoid drinking and driving, may be surprised to learn that a driver can be arrested for DUI without ever consuming a single drop of alcohol. If this is shocking to you, imagine the following scenario:

You are headed out to a local pub on a Thursday night to celebrate a friend’s birthday. On the drive there, you decide to pop a few prescription pills for the splitting headache that has been nagging you all day. You took a hay fever pill about an hour before leaving work, but does not seem to be working. Unbeknownst to you, both pills can cause drowsiness. Once at the pub, you pass on your usual cocktail or beer and opt for a soda since you know you have an early morning the next day. Feeling not quite yourself, you opt to head home a little early. On the way home, you completely miss a stop sign and crash into another vehicle. The officer who arrives at the scene sees your blood shot tired eyes and the bottle of prescription pills in your car. You tell the officer that you took the pills for a headache and that you must have dozed off for a second. The officer arrests you on suspicion of DUI.

This scenario shows just how easy it can be for a person to be arrested for DUI without having a single sip of alcohol. DUI is not a crime limited to alcohol consumption. A person can also be arrested for DUI if he or she is under the influence of any drug, prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal. Drugs, just like alcohol, have the power to impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. However, unlike alcohol, there is no safe or legal amount.

In Kansas for example, a person is said to be driving under the influence of alcohol when he or she has a .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, for drugs there is no such equivalent measure. In essence, this means that a police officer’s decision to arrest a person for DUI based on drug use is based predominantly on the officer’s observations of the motorist and his or her assessment of the scene. In the above scenario, the driver had blood shot eye, taking prescription pills, admitted to possibly dozing off for a second, and had a bottle of prescription pills in the vehicle. In Kansas, this could be enough for an officer to arrest a person for DUI.

It is also important to keep in mind that Kansas law does not distinguish between illegal and legal drug use. In other words, the law does not care if a person was high as a kite on cocaine or if he or she was drowsy due to the side effect of taking a prescribed dose of a doctor recommended medication.

If you were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, it is vitally important that you seek the assistance of an experienced Kansas DUI Attorney to protect your rights. For more than thirty years Kansas DUI Defense Attorney, Charles E. Whitman has been defending men and women charged with DUI. To schedule a free confidential consultation today contact The Whitman Law Offices at (785) 843-9460. Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious charge that requires the knowledge of a seasoned DUI Defense Attorney. At The Whitman Law Offices, you can trust that you will receive top-notch legal representation.

Do Not Drive Buzzed this Labor Day Weekend

August 21st, 2014

Kansas police are warning motorists not to drink and drive this Labor Day weekend. The campaign known as “You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.” is part of a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and is aimed to remove those motorists who drive impaired from the roadways. The official crackdown began on August 14 and will continue through Labor Day, September 1. As part of the program, more than 150 local and state police agencies will be working over-time to enforce Kansas drunk driving laws.

During Labor Day weekend last year, there were 378 automobile crashes across the State of Kansas. Of these crashes 29 were alcohol-related and resulted in two fatalities. However, last year in Kansas was one of the safest on record. But there is of course still room for improvement. In Kansas, impaired drivers are still one of the major causes of injury and death on the roadways. According to KDOT, on average four people are injured every day and every three days, 1 person is killed all in in alcohol-related crashes.

            The police departments involved in this campaign are urging motorists to keep in mind the following things to help keep themselves and others safe on Kansas roadways this Labor Day weekend:

  1. Plan ahead: If you will be driving to an event where you will be consuming alcohol be smart and plan ahead. Before arriving at the event, make sure that you have a designated sober party to drive you home. Do not rely on finding someone at the event to take you home. Chances are if you wait and go this route, the driver you may find will likely not be sober to drive and you may find yourself in a wreck. If you cannot find a sober driver, call a cab or make arrangements to spend the night.
  1. Picture your life post-DUI: Before you head out to a Labor Day party picture what your life would be like post-DUI. Imagine having to go to court, pay thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, and attorney’s fees. Imagine that you may lose your driver’s license for a period of time and thereafter, have to pay to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle
  1. Imagine the unthinkable: Consider the possibility that your decision to drive could result in a terrible accident that could injure or kill yourself, your passenger or an innocent person or family on the roadway. Imagine waking up every day knowing that because of your decision to drink and drive, a child is now without a mother or a father who has to bury his child. Be reminded of this ‘picture’ when you consider drinking and driving. A DUI is a serious offense, but the decision to drink and drive can jeopardize everyone on the roadway with you.
  1. Buckle-up: One of the best and only defenses against a drunk driver is to make sure that you and all of your passengers are properly fastened into your vehicle. Make sure that any children are securely fitted into safety seats.

Just because you were arrested for driving under the influence this Labor Day weekend, does not mean you that you are guilty. If you have been charged with DUI you need to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Only a skilled DUI attorney can properly advise you of your rights and protect your interests inside the courtroom. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our seasoned Kansas DUI Defense Attorneys, call The Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460. Attorney Charles E. Whitman has more than 35 years of experience representing persons charged with DUI. Trust the Whitman Law Offices to provide you with superior legal services.

Justin Bieber’s DUI Case Comes to a Close

August 13th, 2014

For Justin Bieber, a case that began more than seven months ago in Florida has a finally come to a close. Back in January 2014, the pop star made headlines when he was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Bieber was pulled over by police in connection with an illegal street race. The police encountered Bieber’s rented yellow Lamborghini racing a red Ferrari, driven by a well-known R&B singer, in a residential Miami neighborhood. The teen was traveling at speeds close to double the posted speed limit. After observing his blood shot eyes and the odor of alcohol on his breath, police had the then 19-yeard old engage in field sobriety tests. Bieber failed the tests and later admitted to police having smoked pot and taken prescription drugs. While the singer’s blood alcohol concentration did come back below the BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21, a blood test later revealed that the presence of THC, the active substance in marijuana, and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Bieber originally pleaded not guilty to the charges and his case was set for trial. In addition to the DUI charges, Bieber faced charges for driving with an expired license and for resisting arrest. However, the trial did not occur as it was announced in mid-August, close to seven months after the incident occurred, that Justin had accepted a plea deal. While some may have thought the celebrity’s star power might allow him it to escape without penalty—that was not quite the case. While the deal reached does allow Bieber to avoid a DUI conviction—he did have to plead guilty to careless driving and resisting arrest, both misdemeanor charges. The charge for driving without a license was dropped as Justin provided proof of a valid license.

With this deal, Justin must attend a 12-hour anger management lass. He will also have to pay court fines of $500 and court costs. Bieber also made a $50,000 contribution to “Our Kids,” a local children’s charity. While the charity portion of the deal could not be legally enforced, it was part of the prosecutor’s demand, and in fact, Justin did pay the sum prior to the time when the Judge accepted Bieber’s plea deal. Also as part of the plea deal, Justin must attend a victim impact program called “YouImpact”. Through this program Bieber will meet with people whose lives have been affected by drunk drivers. The goal of this program and programs like it, are to show offenders first-hand about the trauma, pain, suffering and loss that is experienced by innocent victims and their loved ones as a result of DUI accidents.

The Judge hearing the Bieber case did accept the plea deal reached, however, he also wanted to deliver a message of his own to Justin. The Judge compared Justin to a young Robert Downey Jr., who despite problems with drugs and alcohol in his youth, was able to turn his life around. The Judge hoped that Justin will grow up and learn to make the most of his talents. The Judge also wanted Justin to serve as a better role model for his numerous young fans.

 If you have been charged with driving under the influence, the first thing you need to do is find an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney. Only a skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorney will be able to thoroughly review your case and help you make the decision of whether to accept a plea deal or go to trial. For more than 35 years, Kansas DUI Defense Attorney Charles E. Whitman has provide clients charged with DUI superior legal services. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call The Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460.

Could Canadian Justin Bieber’s Plea Deal Cause Him Immigration Problems?

August 11th, 2014

In January, pop star Justin Bieber made headlines when he was arrested in Florida. The then 19-year old was drag racing an exotic sports car on a neighborhood street when Miami police caught up with him. Bieber, who was belligerent with police, failed a field sobriety test after officers noticed the odor of alcohol on his breath. Bieber later admitted to drinking some alcohol, using marijuana and taking prescription pills. At the time of the arrest, Bieber also had an expired driver’s license. He was charged with driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and driving without a valid license.

News of Bieber’s arrest spread like wild fire. An official White House petition was created using the White House website shortly after Bieber’s arrest. The petition asked that the government deport Canadian born Justin Bieber and revoke his green card. The petition drew over 270,000 signatures. While the White House did not directly comment on the petition, it did create a stir in the media about whether a DUI conviction could be a valid reason for a person to be deported. While the simple answer to this question is of course, it depends on the facts of the particular situation.

Crimes that lead to deportation are typically aggravated felonies and crimes involving ‘moral turpitude’. In Kansas, a first-time DUI charge is usually a misdemeanor criminal offense. Like most other states, a Kansas DUI does not have an intent element. This means that a person can be found guilty of DUI regardless of whether he or she intended to drive under the influence. In Kansas, a simple DUI would not be a crime of moral turpitude unless it had an aggravating factor.

The good news for Justin Bieber, is that his DUI charge was dropped. In mid-August it was announced that Justin Bieber had accepted a plea deal. As part of the deal Bieber agreed to plead guilty to non-violent resisting arrest and his DUI charge was reduced to “reckless driving”. However, since Bieber is Canadian and was not present in court when the Judge formally accepted the deal, the plea stipulated that Bieber’s attorney must discuss with him the possible immigration consequences of the agreement. The stipulation went on to further say that INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) will consider this conviction in any deportation decision.

It is unlikely that Bieber will face deportation proceedings as the result of his plea deal with Miami prosecutors. However, there is a lot that can be taken away from this case. Most importantly, is that if a person is arrested for DUI and he or she is not a U.S. it is important that he or she speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney who is familiar with immigration law as soon as possible. Upon meeting with a DUI defense attorney, a non-citizen needs to make sure that he or she informs the attorney of his or her immigration status. The attorney will need to know a person’s immigration status so that he or she can properly advise the client as to how to proceed with the case.

If you are a non-citizen who has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, it is important you to speak with a skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorney that is knowledgeable about immigration law. Only an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney can properly advise you of your rights and make sure that all of your defenses are explored. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our Kansas DUI Defense Attorneys, call The Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460.  With more than 35 years of experience handling DUI matters, Attorney Charles E. Whitman, is the attorney you can trust to make sure your rights are protected.

Understanding the Consequences of Underage Drinking

August 1st, 2014

Having a teenager in the house can be a challenging experience for any parent. Teenagers are at an age where they want more independence from their parents as they try to figure out who they are and how they fit into this world. However, being a teenager today is also not an easy task. Teens are under considerable pressure by society and their peers, which can lead them to engage in behaviors that they would not necessarily do on their own. One of the biggest problems facing teens today is underage drinking.

According to a Kansas Communities That Care student survey, Kansas youth self-report that on average the first time that they drank alcohol was at or before the age of 13. By the age of 14 youth reported that they started drinking alcohol on a regular basis or more than once or twice a month. This can be shocking information for a parent of a teenager. Especially when combined with the fact that it is estimated that youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to have problems with alcohol as adults.

As a parent, it is important to understand the potential consequences that underage drinking can have on a teenager. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have found that youth who consume alcohol are more likely than their peers who do not consume alcohol to experience the following types of problems:

  • Problems in school, including but not limited to higher rates of absenteeism and receiving poor or failing grades;
  • Physical problems, such as memory problems, disruption of normal growth, and changes in brain development;
  • Social problems like fighting and the inability to participate in organized sports and activities; and
  • Legal problems stemming from drinking and driving or engaging in violent or property crimes.

Youth who drink alcohol are also at a higher risk for:

  • Committing suicide or homicide;
  • Death from alcohol poisoning and/or drowning;
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as unprotected sexual activity which can lead to unwanted pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease;
  • Abusing other drugs;
  • Becoming the victim of physical or sexual assault; and
  • Experiencing physical injuries from burns or as the result of an alcohol related car accident.

It is important for parents to start a dialogue about not drinking with your teenager as early as possible. Parents play a huge role in a teenager’s decision whether to drink alcohol. Make sure that your teenager hears from you about how underage drinking can impact their lives. Less than half of all teens report that that their parents have talked with them about the dangers of alcohol consumption in the last year. It is critical for a parent to talk to their teen and to do so regularly.

Parents can help their teens by explaining to them some of most common problems associated with alcohol consumption. Make sure that your teen knows that if he or she is ever at a party and needs to leave that you are willing to help him or her out of the situation. Explain to your teen that under no circumstance shall he or she ever operate a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

If you are a parent of a teenager who has been charged with DUI or an alcohol related offense you may not know what to do or where to turn for help. While your teen may have made a big mistake, you do not want to allow his or her blunder to cost him or her their future. At The Whitman Law Offices, we will take the time to carefully explain the charges your son or daughter is facing and evaluate his or her defenses. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorneys, contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460.