On one hand, the penalties for DUIs in Kansas (and Missouri, and America) are somewhat draconian. Have an extra drink or two with dinner, get pulled over by a bored cop in Johnson County, and — after bail, fines, court costs and legal fees — you’re staring down a several-thousand-dollar dent in your bank account, two days in jail and community service, to say nothing of the long-term effects of a car-insurance premium increase.
On the other hand, in Kansas at least, the law goes pretty easy on a certain kind of repeat drunk driver. The Leavenworth Times reports that a 59-year-old Easton, Kansas, man named Stephen Gast was sentenced yesterday to one year in county jail for his 17th DUI. Since 1980, Gast has been arrested for a DUI 17 times.
According to Kansas law, the penalties for DUI offenses increase in severity up until your fifth DUI. But after that, the maximum penalty remains the same: one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Assistant Leavenworth County Attorney Adam Zentner told the Times that he didn’t think state legislators had guys like Gast in mind when they made the law. But according to Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson, his office has seen at least three cases this year involving people who have had 10 or more DUIs.
Three cases with people who have ten DUIs on their record. In one year!
Sounds like an area ripe for some simple legislative amendments. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is pushing for some, 41 Action News reports:
MADD organization is working to pushing two pieces of legislation in Kansas:
– One would require habitual DUI offenders to install a lifetime ignition interlock on their vehicles.
– Another would change the way repeat DUI offenders are sentenced to include time in prison.
The TV station also tracked Gast down yesterday and discovered that most of his DUIs have come en route to, or on the way back from, the liquor store. “I probably didn’t buy enough to begin with and [had] to resupply,” Gast said.
We’ve all been there, brother. But eventually you gotta start planning ahead.