Do Out Of State DUI Convictions Count As Priors For A Kansas DUI Charge?
In the State of Kansas, each prior DUI conviction a person has will then increase the severity of additional DUI charges. For example, a first time DUI is a Class B misdemeanor and has a potential sentence of two days to six months incarceration. A person’s second DUI will be a Class A misdemeanor, and the potential sentence of 90 days to one year incarceration. If the prior DUI convictions are under K.S.A. 8-1567, this rule is pretty straightforward. But what about when the conviction is from out-of-state? Below is a brief summary of how Kansas deals with out-of-state DUI convictions.
When does a prior DUI conviction not affect a new DUI charge?
The United States has a very unique system of governments working with and over top of another. Usually this doesn’t cause many problems but sometimes as state’s ability to criminalize conduct on its own can lead to problems. DUI laws are a good example of how much freedom a state has: a state could decide not to prohibit DUI or they could choose to prohibit it even after one drink, or anywhere in between. Essentially this means that a person could be convicted of DUI in one state for conduct that isn’t even illegal in another. State v. Stanley is a good example of this.
In Stanley, the defendant faced a DUI charge in Kansas. He had a previous Kansas DUI and a Missouri DWI. The trial court treated these convictions as both applying under K.S.A. 8-1567, which resulted in Stanley being charge and convicted for a felony DUI charge. However, upon appeal this decision was reversed because of the Missouri DWI statute. The Missouri law was broader (it criminalized a bigger amount of conduct) than the Kansas law, and because of this the Missouri conviction couldn’t be used to “bump up” the defendant’s DUI charge. The Missouri law required “any manner” of impairment from alcohol, whereas Kansas outlaws intoxication that renders “safely driving a vehicle” impossible. Conduct which violated the Missouri law could not have violated the Kansas law, so the trial court couldn’t consider the Missouri conviction to “bump up” the DUI charge.
There are three crucial parts about when an out-of-state charge will fail to apply under K.S.A. 8-1567. First, K.S.A. 8-1567 must be broader than the other law. The classification cannot be “bumped up” if the conduct would have been legal in Kansas but illegal in the other state. Second, the court doesn’t care about the conviction’s details. In Stanley, the defendant could have very well been too drunk to safely drive their vehicle when he was convicted in Missouri. But the court will not retry the previous charge, so it will not look at the defendant’s conduct but rather just the law they were convicted under. Finally, the court noted that if municipal DUI laws are broader than K.S.A. 8-1567 they too cannot apply as prior convictions, even if they are from Kansas. An example would be as in State v. Wood, that court found that the City of Lenexa’s municipal DUI law (which is now changed) was broader than K.S.A. 8-1567. Using the same logic from Stanley, the court did not recognize the municipal conviction to “bump up” the current DUI charge.
How can I determine if a state’s DUI law is broader than K.S.A. 8-1567?
Unfortunately, you probably can’t. When courts are dealing with statutes, they are answering “questions of law.” This means that when the matter comes before a higher court, that court gets to answer on its own and it doesn’t care what the lower court decided. Further, unlike a question of fact, it is harder to foresee how the court will answer a question of law. The court in Stanley came to its conclusion by researching multiple Missouri courts interpretations of the DWI law, and then compared those holdings to K.S.A. 8-1567. This is a very complex process that involves multiple interpretations before an answer is reached. Currently, only Texas’ DUI statute and Missouri’s DWI statute have been addressed and determined to be broader than K.S.A. 8-1567.
It is a tall order to determine an out-of-state conviction’s effect on a new Kansas DUI charge. It involves reading two different laws from two different states, and then analyzing them together. To attempt to correctly determine if the law is too broad to apply or too narrow to result in “bumping up” the new charge is a touchy process. It is vital that you contact an experienced attorney with the research skills needed to compare and possibly predict how the court will analyze these two laws together.