Legislators make concession on interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders

TOPEKA — Rep. Pat Colloton, R-Leawood, did a talk-and-walk with The Eagle just now in the basement of the Statehouse and said conference committee members working on a bill that would toughen penalties for DUIs agreed today on a four-year sunset on interlock devices for first-time offenders.

Colloton said Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, wanted the sunset to assess how interlocks for first-time offenders affect DUIs across the state.

if Senate Bill 6 is passed, Kansas will join 11 other states that require interlock devices for all DUIs. Interlocks test a driver’s alcohol level. If the driver fails to blow a clean test, his or her car won’t start.

Haley had been reticent about requiring interlocks (drivers with clean records convicted of a first DUI would have to drive with them for six months; people convicted of a first DUI who have three or more moving traffic violations in a year would have to drive with them for a year) on a first offense. He expressed concerns about the cost of the devices and people being caught in a “wide net.”

The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice and Senate Judiciary conference committee also learned that state law limits fines for misdemeanors to $1,000, so that will impact a plan to raise all DUI fines by $250.

One conferee, Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, has not yet signed the bill, Colloton said, so the committee has to wait for him to sign it to bring it to both chambers. She expects that to happen Friday.