KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some are calling it a victory for the Fourth Amendment, while others say it will let suspected drunk drivers off the hook. The Kansas Supreme Court struck down a law that makes it a crime for drunk driving suspects to refuse to give a breath or blood test at a drunk driving stop.
Up until Friday, if a driver in Kansas refused a breath or blood test they faced being charged with a crime that could lead to double the jail time and fine. The driver also lost their license. It was an incentive for drivers to take the breath or blood test. On Friday, The Kansas Supreme Court said that law violates the U.S. Constitution Fourth Amendment. Basically, it's an unreasonable search.
"Law enforcement needs all tools available to keep drunk drivers off the roads," said Lori Marshall, a program manager with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who is upset about the ruling. "We need every tool we can to keep those people off the streets and keep the streets safe."
Drivers can still lose their license, since that's a civil matter. However, they cannot be thrown in jail for committing the crime of refusal. The law didn't criminalize a first time refusal, so Friday's ruling applies to a second refusal or more.
"Any pending DUI right now in Kansas where they took the breath test that person is going to say 'you made me do it' and they should be able to get that tossed out," said Paul Burmaster, attorney with The Santa Fe Law Building in Overland Park.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the issue out of several other states. On Friday, the attorney general issued revised consent forms for all law enforcement agencies across the state to comply with the ruling.