The Kansas Driving Under the Influence law:
The Kansas Legislature passed the “Zero Tolerance” law making it illegal for anyone under 21 to operate or attempt to operate a motor vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .02 or above (That’s only one drink). However, drivers can be stopped and ticketed when impaired by alcohol or other drugs regardless of their BAC. Penalties for violating this Zero Tolerance for youth law:
• Driving privileges suspended for 30 days and restricted for 330 days.
Second and subsequent offense:
• Driving privileges suspended for one year.
Fines can range from $500 to $1,000, plus court costs, attorney fees and other expenses.
Underage Drinking or Possession Violation:
The bill requires a 30-day driver’s license suspension for a person under the age of 21 found to be drinking or in possession of cereal malt beverages or alcoholic liquor. Any person who does not have a driver’s license may not apply for one for a 30-day period following conviction.
If a police officer asks you to take a blood or breath test to measure how much alcohol is in your system, Kansas law requires that you comply. The opportunity to consent to or refuse a test is not a constitutional right. In fact, refusal to submit to and complete any test requested by a law enforcement officer will result in a driver license suspension of one year.
Information from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
With high school and college graduations fast approaching, the Central Kansas Partnership is urging parents to keep the community safe by prohibiting underage drinking and not providing alcohol to underage youth at graduation celebrations.
Graduates should ask their parents to not serve alcohol at their graduation celebrations, said CynDee Christiansen of the Drug and Alcohol Use Prevention Task Force under the Central Kansas Partnership in Great Bend. “Not only is it dangerous to encourage drinking and driving among family, friends, and neighbors, it is against the law.”
“I think a lot of parents think providing alcohol at graduation parties and other big celebrations means their kids will be safer because they feel like the kids will drink anyway and at least at home they can keep an eye on them,” said Hays-based Regional Prevention Council consultant Kari Sparks. “However, it is a dangerous precedent to begin.”
At issue is “social hosting.” This refers to private citizens providing for underage drinking events on property that they own, lease or otherwise control. One may not need to actually serve or provide alcohol to underage guests to violate state law.
In 2004 Kansas lawmakers passed the Social Host law after Lenexa teen Paul Riggs was killed while driving home from a friend’s party where he and other teenagers had been drinking while parents were home. The statute defines social hosting as a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $1,000 and up to $2,500, and maybe one year in jail.
From 2004 through 2011, there have been 497 social-hosting arrests statewide, the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office reported. None of those took place in Barton County, but there were arrests in 59 counties, including Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Russell.
However, that arrest data alone does not complete the picture, the KTRSO noted. Some counties may issue citations, but not actually arrest anyone. Arrests may not be prosecuted or those arrested and prosecuted may not be found guilty. Each jurisdiction may address social hosting in a different way.
Teens drinking and driving is a problem.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, alcohol-related highway crashes are the leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults in the United States. A recent survey of high school students across Kansas revealed that two out of three Kansas kids drink alcohol. And 47 percent attended at least one underage drinking party in the last six months.
Ironically, KDOT noted, three-fourths of Kansas teens report they know the consequences of underage drinking, and nearly two-thirds know of someone who has been involved in an alcohol-related crash.
To parents, be the adults, said Michelle Voth, executive director of the Topeka-based Kansas Family Partnership. “By hosting a party, what laws are you chosing to break?”
“Think about what you say and how you act in front of your child,” she said. Show them what is appropriate and acceptable in your family and teach kids to choose friends wisely. “Kids whose friends don’t use alcohol or other drugs are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.”
Research shows that parents do make a difference. Talking with graduates about alcohol now could help prevent a life-changing mistake, Christiansen said.
When it comes to teens, parties and drinking, parents should be aware that:
• It is illegal to knowingly or unknowingly host or allow underage drinking parties in your home or on your property – including your pasture, vacation home, or hunting cabin.
• It is unhealthy and unacceptable for anyone under the age of 21 to drink.
• It is unsafe and illegal for teens to drink and drive.
• It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have alcohol in their possession.
• Parents can be prosecuted under the law and be civilly liable for damages, injuries, or deaths that may occur.
• Everything associated with a violation, such as personal property, can be confiscated.
The Regional Prevention Centers offer these tips for parents hosting a graduation party:
• Help your teen plan the party and invite only a certain number of people.
• Pass out personalized invitations and don’t invite via text or e-mail to avoid “open” parties.
• Put your phone number on the invitation and welcome calls from parents.
• Designate a start and end time for the party.
• Make and enforce a rule against any use of alcohol or drugs.
• Let neighbors know that a parent-supervised party has been planned.
If your teen is attending a party:
• Remind your teen that their actions have consequences
• Find out how your teen is getting to and from the party
• Know where the party is being held and verify with an adult who will be supervising.
• Make sure alcohol will not be served.
• Tell teens to check in with a parent if they plan to leave the party early.
• Remind teens to never ride with anyone who has been drinking or doing drugs.
• Assure your teen that they can phone you anytime to be picked up.
• Set and enforce a curfew.
For more information contact Christiansen at 620-793-1930.