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Kansas Court Discusses the Right to an Attorney During DUI Arrests

In the United States, DUI defendants have multiple rights, including the right to an attorney. When the right arises is not always clear, however, as demonstrated in a recent Kansas case in which the defendant argued his request was unjustly denied. While the Kansas ruling does not have implications in Illinois, it provides insight into how states throughout the country interpret the right. If an Illinois police department arrested you for a DUI crime in Illinois, it is smart to talk to an Illinois DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Kansas Ruling

It is reported that a Kansas police officer initiated a traffic stop on the defendant, whose vehicle had the wrong license plate. The defendant, exhibiting signs of impairment, expressed a desire to consult an attorney during the stop. Despite this, the officer denied the request and conducted cognitive sobriety tests, leading to the defendant’s arrest for DUI. The defendant contested the evidentiary test results, arguing that the denial of his pretest requests for counsel violated his rights. The district court initially supported the defendant’s position but later reversed, relying on the interpretation that Kansas law limited the right to request counsel to the posttest period. The Kansas Court of Appeals disagreed, asserting that the law was ambiguous and allowed requests for counsel both before and after the DUI test.

Allegedly, the Kansas Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying the timing of a valid request for an attorney in DUI cases. The court upheld the district court’s decision, emphasizing that Kansas law requires law enforcement officers to inform the driver about their right to counsel only after completing evidentiary tests. The majority opinion held that pretest requests for counsel should not carry over to the posttest period, aligning with the interpretation that the statutory right to post-test counsel requires a specific request after the administration of the evidentiary breath test.

The Right to an Attorney in Illinois DUI Arrests

In Illinois, as in most states, people arrested for DUI crimes must be informed of their Miranda rights, which includes the right to an attorney. Miranda protections are not afforded to people during Terry stops, however. A Terry stop occurs when an officer believes that a person either committed a crime or traffic violation or is about to do so.

In other words, the right to an attorney only arises when a person is detained or interrogated. A person investigated for and charged with a DUI crime may be able to argue that their stop and subsequent arrest was unjust if the police lacked probable cause to effectuate a stop. In such instances, any evidence obtained during the stop should arguably be inadmissible.

Talk to a Dedicated Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

In Illinois, people accused of crimes are afforded numerous protections under the state and federal constitutions. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney about your rights. Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a dedicated Illinois DUI defense attorney with the skills and experience needed to help you seek a just outcome. You can reach Mr. Harvatin via the online form or by calling 217.525.0520 to schedule a meeting.

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