In order for prior DUI convictions from other states to count against a driver, the defense attorney must determine whether the out-of-state DUI statute or ordinance is similar to the Kansas statute. The recent Kansas Court of Appeals ruling in State vs. Stanley (unpublished opinion) held that the Missouri DWI statute, 577.010, was more broad in scope and therefore was not "similar" enough to the Kansas statute. Specifically, the Missouri statute states: "A person commits the crime of DWI if he or she operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition." Under the statute, a person is in an "intoxicated condition" when he is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In contrast, the Kansas statute, 8-1567, is more narrow when defining "intoxication." 8-1567 defines "intoxication" as operating a vehicle under the influence "to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving or having a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or more." The Kansas version of the law is more narrow. Therefore, Missouri convictions under 577.010 should not and will not be considered "prior offenses" in Kansas courts.
It is the responsibility of the criminal defense attorney to examine the prior offenses, determine whether any out-of-state convictions have similar statutes, and then submit the argument to the prosecutor that the out-of-state statute is too broad. The key is the language in the statute. Since Kansas is more narrow in scope on the level of intoxication, then some out-of-state convictions can easily be attacked as insufficient and not worthy of consideration. The Stanley case has effectively armed the defendant with a substantive defense when challenging priors. An experienced attorney should be aware of the current case law and use this when negotiating plea agreements with the State.
UPDATE February 1, 2017: I used the Stanley case noted above to "knock out" two prior Missouri DWI convictions to get a felony DUI case reduced to a misdemeanor DUI-1st offense. Rather than serving 90 days in jail, my client served 5 days. He will remain on probation for one year. The outcome, however, would have been much different if I had not used the Stanley ruling as leverage during negotiations with the State. In the end they followed the law outlined in Stanley and did not recognize the Missouri convictions. Due diligence at its finest.
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