Lawmakers Consider Tougher Penalties For Drunk Drivers

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Lawmakers are considering a bill to allow prosecutors to charge offenders with the crime of aggravated battery while driving under the influence.

"We really would like to change the law so that we have a more measured response, being able to prosecute people at a higher level for killing, while under the influence, but also at various levels in between, depending on the amount of harm that they cause," said Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney Aaron Breitenbach.

Prosecutors from the Kansas County & District Attorneys Association have placed this issue as a leading part of their agenda for the legislative session.

Breitenbach testified on Thursday before members of the Kansas House of Representatives Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice in support of House Bill 2043.

Parents like Matt Liston are in support of additional charges in DUI cases. In August, his son, Colby, lost his legs as a result of a drunk driver in Lawrence. In January, the 22-year-old driver that hit Colby was charged with his second offense of driving under the influence and unlawful possession of marijuana.

"Until the consequences are higher, the costs/fines are higher, the jail time is higher, whatever it may be, that's what's going to prevent people from doing this because they obviously don't learn from the first one," said Liston.

Liston hopes that the committee members will choose to pursue the bill further and that it will become law in the future.

"I think the state of Kansas needs to get tougher on DUIs, but that also rolls back to district attorneys need to be tougher on DUI laws too," he said.

Currently, a DUI misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and $1,000 fine and a minimum sentence of 48 hours and $500 fine.

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