On June 9, 2015, Governor Brownback signed into law House Bill 2055. The new law will take effect on July 1, 2015.This law is named after a school teacher in McPherson, Kansas, who was badly injured after being hit by a drunk driver. The driver was charged with aggravated battery while under the influence—a felony in Kansas. Under the Kansas sentencing grid, the defendant fell into a border box. The border box classification gives the judge the right to send the offender to prison or give him probation if certain statutory factors are met. The judge sentenced this particular defendant 2 years and 10 months in prison (the maximum term provided by the box on the sentencing grid).

This new law affects only those people charged with aggravated battery while under the influence of alcohol. The situation is most likely to occur when a individual hits someone with a vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The defendant had 2 prior DUIs but little else for criminal history. The DUIs were misdemeanors and counted as such in calculating the defendant’s criminal history score. Mija’s law was enacted to change how prior DUI convictions will be counted in similar situations. Under Mija’s law, the prior DUI convictions of a driver being sentenced for aggravated battery while under the influence will be counted as felonies for the purpose of calculating a criminal history score. One prior DUI conviction counts as a non-person felony; a second prior DUI conviction counts as a person felony. The change in classification can make a big difference on the Kansas sentencing grid. Under Mija’s law, the driver of the car that hit Mija would have faced a maximum sentence of almost 5 years.

This law does not effect someone who is convicted of a DUI without injury to another person. In such cases, the DUI sentencing laws currently in effect remain.

It is important to contact a DUI attorney when charged with a offense involving alcohol. The laws are very severe and very complicated. Contact the Joseph Hollander & Craft DUI Defense Team for a free DUI consultation. We have attorneys in Wichita (316-262-9393), Topeka (785-234-3272), and Lawrence (785-856-0143).

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