Kansas AG asks state supreme court to delay DUI-related decisions

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TOPEKA, Kansas – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt Friday asked the Kansas Supreme Court to put on hold recent decisions that declare state DUI-related statutes unconstitutional.  Schmidt wants to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a similar case later this spring.

In a news release, Schmidt’s office said a series of four cases announced last Friday by the state supreme court overturned state statutes related to DUI.  The focus of the issue is a Kansas statute making it a crime for a person suspected of DUI to refuse to submit to a breath test to determine blood-alcohol levels. The state court held that the statute as currently written violates constitutional rights. The Kansas cases are State v. Ryce, State v. Nece, State v. Wilson and State v. Wycoff.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, already has agreed to hear cases from other states that present similar constitutional questions. Those cases, known together as Birchfield v. North Dakota, are scheduled for argument later this spring with a decision expected by the end of June.

“The final word on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution rests with the U.S. Supreme Court,” Schmidt said. “In this case, that final word is near, so it makes sense to put the Kansas decisions on hold until the definitive interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is settled in less than four months and the Kansas court’s interpretation likely is either confirmed or called into question.”

Schmidt filed motions Friday asking the Kansas Supreme Court to delay formally issuing its decisions, which were announced last Friday, pending the outcome of the federal case.

Schmidt also announced that Kansas will join in filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to decide the Birchfield case in a way that settles the dispute in Kansas in a manner that upholds Kansas statutes.

A copy of the motions to delay its decisions announced last week filed today with the Kansas Supreme Court is available at http://1.usa.gov/1TVeteb .

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