OLATHE, Kan. — John Charles Howard was sentenced for this 15th DUI on Wednesday, but thanks to Kansas law his punishment was no worse than if it had been his third DUI – one year behind bars.
Howard, 51, received just one year in prison for driving under the influence, but was also sentenced to 13 months for fleeing a law enforcement officer and another seven months for interfering with a law enforcement officer. Howard was arrested on May 14 following a police chase where he crashed his car exiting Highway 69 at a 103rd street in Overland Park.
On Wednesday, Howard told Johnson County Jude Franklin Davis that he was, “sorry I got behind the wheel.”
Lori Marshall, of the Johnson County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says it’s outrageous that Howard won’t serve more time for what was his 15th arrest for drunk driving.
“It’s horrible and when you look at the number of people that are out there like him, I mean that’s his 15th time.” said Marshall.
In September, a Platte County, Missouri man named Ricky Stroble was sentenced to 15-years for his eighth DUI. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe says that Howard’s one-year sentence is “the sad part” of Kansas law.
“It’s our belief that when you get people who are 15-time offenders that they pose a huge risk to the community, and therefore we should have some enhancement potential for their sentence,” said Howe. He says that he believes state lawmakers have been reluctant to stiffen Kansas DUI laws because state prisons are already overcrowded.
“It’s all about bed space and there’s a lack of bed space in Kansas,” said Howe.