In a split decision a panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals has held that during a DUI investigation that a pre-breath-test request to consult an attorney is valid and should be honored following the officer’s testing.
Thomas Kerrigan was stopped for a traffic violation and during the event the officer detected signs of intoxication. After being charged with DUI, Kerrigan moved to suppress the Intoxilyzer evidence on multiple grounds, one being that the officer had not honored his request to consult an attorney. The trial court found that even though the testimony conflicted, that Kerrigan had requested to consult an attorney at least once prior to the end of testing. Further, it found that Kerrigan had not requested an attorney after the completion of the testing. Those findings set up a need for court interpretation of the 2018 legislative amendments to K.S.A. 8-1001(c)(1).
The statute in question is K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 8-1001(c)(1) and it currently states:
“(c) When requesting a test or tests of breath or other bodily substances other than blood or urine, under this section, the person shall be given oral and written notice that:
(1) There is no right to consult with an attorney regarding whether to submit to testing, but, after the completion of the testing, the person may request and has the right to consult with an attorney and may secure additional testing.”
A little history helps here. In the 2015 Dumler v. KDOR case, the Kansas Supreme Court had held that language in the 2009 version of K.S.A. 8-1001 “does not say that a request to invoke that right of consultation must await the completion of testing.” In response to Dumler, the Legislature amended K.S.A. 8-1001 to include the current “but, after the completion of the testing . . . .”
Even with that background, Kerrigan argued that the law had not really changed, and that his right to consult an attorney “pre-breath test” stayed valid throughout the event. Surprisingly, two of the panel judges agreed finding that the phrase “but, after the completion of the testing” is ambiguous and thus Kerrigan should win here.
The third member of the panel, Judge Kathryn Gardner, would have none of it. She would have held that the statute is clear. “The plain language of the statute says that after the completion of the testing the person may request to consult with an attorney. It includes no similar language as to any earlier request. Thus, although an officer may choose to honor a request made before or during the breath test to consult with an attorney, an officer has no statutory duty to do so.” However, Judge Gardner lost in the 2-1 vote.
As of November 11, 2022, the State had not yet requested that the Kansas Supreme Court review the panel’s divided decision. So, bottom line for the foreseeable future, whenever a DUI suspect requests to consult an attorney about testing, that request will remain valid and should be honored at the end of the officer’s testing.