Each year across Kansas, police make about 20,000 arrests for driving under the influence. State law basically says those people’s licenses will be suspended 30 days after their arrest — unless they seek a hearing with the state. But because of the way the hearing process works, thousands of suspected DUI drivers can legally keep driving for three to 10 months after their arrests — sometimes longer, reports the Wichita Eagle. Some lawmakers, looking for ways to close gaps in the state’s DUI laws, say the process takes too long and endangers public safety. One way to solve it is to hire more hearing officers and support staff to conduct the hearings, they say.
The state employs four attorneys to hold thousands of DUI hearings statewide. The driver’s license appeals process plays out in stages. In roughly half of the state’s total DUI cases — 9,500 to 10,000 — the motorists appeal by requesting a hearing. While waiting on the hearing, they get to keep driving — with a temporary license — for typically three to four months after their arrest. At the hearing, most lose their case to keep driving privileges. But about 400 of them a year — a growing number — file a second appeal to district courts, Keller said. It allows them to legally keep driving nine or 10 months or longer after their arrest.