Refusing to Submit to DUI Chemical Testing Isn't a Crime in Kansas Anymore

The Kansas Supreme Court says the state law on refusal is unconstitutional.

Kansas, like all other states, has “implied consent” laws that generally require drivers stopped by police for driving under the influence (DUI) to submit to chemical testing. A driver who refuses chemical testing will typically face administrative penalties—the driver’s license will likely be suspended for a period of time and the driver might need to pay a fine or install an ignition interlock device.

But until just recently, Kansas was among the group of states that take the law on DUI refusal a step further, making it a crime to refuse a chemical test under some circumstances. Kansas drivers who were lawfully arrested for a DUI and had previously refused a chemical test or been convicted of a DUI faced mandatory jail time and the possibility of a felony conviction. The law meant that a driver could be convicted of both driving under the influence and refusing a test for the same set of circumstances. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 8-1025 (2015).)

However, on February 26, 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court decided State v. Ryce. The court struck down the law making it a crime to refuse chemical testing. The court said that drivers have a Fourth Amendment right to refuse a chemical test, and that criminalizing refusal interferes with that right. (State v. Ryce, No. 111, 698, slip opinion.)

Importantly, the Ryce decision doesn’t mean Kansas drivers should disregard the remaining implied consent laws. Though refusal is no longer its own crime, drivers who refuse chemical testing still face administrative consequences.

To find out more about Ryce and its implications, see Kansas Supreme Court: Law Making It a Crime to Refuse DUI Chemical Testing Is Unconstitutional.