Kansas bill aims to relax DUI charges - KOAM TV 7

Kansas bill aims to relax DUI charges

     A Kansas bill aims to relax DUI penalties in the state by cutting down the wait time to appeal a charge.
     Kiersten Allen was the only survivor of a drunk driving crash when she was 9 years old.  She has an incomplete spinal cord and continues to recover to this day.
     "People forget that the choices that they make seem to only matter at the time, but the consequences of those choices last a lifetime for other people," Allen said.
     Currently in Kansas, there is a 10 year wait period to file an appeal to have a DUI conviction expunged from your record.
     HB 2662 aims to reduce that wait period to just 5 years, which supporters hope will help those with charges to find more employment opportunities.
     Allen says first time offenders should not have the option of clearing their records.
    "I don't get to start over again," she said.  "The four people killed in my crash don't get to start over again."  
     And law enforcement says this would drastically decrease penalties for subsequent offenders.
     "If someone is arrested for a DUI this weekend and we have no record of a previous record of a DUI 6 years ago, then they're going to be charged as a first time offender when that's really not their first offense, they've actually had a prior conviction," said Sheriff David Groves of Cherokee County.
     Subsequent offenses are charged and sentenced at a more severe level than that of a first time DUI offender.
     "Easing the penalties is not something that most people, especially in public safety or victims of those type of crashes,necessarily want to see in the state of Kansas," Groves said.
     Allen says no matter what ends up on your record, driving under the influence is never worth the risk.
     "You're going to take your life or someone else's and you can't get that back," Allen said. "That's not ever going to change and that's going to stay with you forever even if they expunge it off your record."
     The bill is currently in the Judiciary Committee at the Senate.
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