Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Mayor Krysztof vetoes DUI ordinance

April 25, 2001

Baldwin City Mayor Stan Krysztof isn't through yet. Just weeks ahead of his final meeting of the city council, he's chosen to veto an ordinance recently by the council concerning Driving Under the Influence.

Although a mayoral veto is uncommon, it is well in the realm of his power, according to City Administrator Larry Paine. Krysztof was defeated in his re-election attempt during the Feb. 28 primary. Ken Hayes takes over as mayor May 7.

Paine said there hasn't been a veto during his tenure and he couldn't find another example of it occurring in recent Baldwin history.

"It hasn't happened since I've been here," said Paine, who has been here for two years. "The authority belongs to the mayor in a council-mayor form of city government. With a city commission, that can't happen."

The council passed two ordinances governing drinking and driving among those 16 to 21 years of age. They criminalize driving with a blood alcohol content between .02 to .08. Over .08 BAC constitutes Driving Under the Influence which has its own penalties and procedures.

One of the ordinances passed by the council mirrors state law on the offense. The other ordinance allowed the city prosecutor leeway in applying the law. That's what Krysztof took exception to.

"In accordance with provisions of KSA 12-3003, I am exercising the authority granted in the Statute to veto Ordinance No. 1059," Krysztof said in a letter to the city council. "My concerns are as follows: Over the past 40 years, we have seen a trend toward giving more and more freedom without seeing more responsible behavior. Passing this ordinance gives more flexibility to our court personnel but I do not see the prospect of more responsible behavior; The ordinance should have imposed the requirements of the state law requiring the surrender of the individual's operating license and imposing a $500 fine; The ordinance allowed the individual to plea for a shorter suspension of the motor vehicle operator's license instead of the automatic loss of the license for a full year.

"For the above reasons, Ordinance 1059 is hearby vetoed," Krysztof wrote.

The council discussed and passed the ordinances at the last two council meetings. Krysztof didn't attend either one.

George McCrary, one of three councilmen to win election in the April 3 ballot, thought Krysztof did the right thing. McCrary, Hayes, Ken Wagner and Todd Cohen will take their places on the council May 7.

"Good for him," McCrary said of Krysztof's veto. "I agree."

The council can override the veto with votes from three-quarters of the council. That would amount to four votes. The ordinance passed by four votes.

Paine said Krysztof felt strongly about the matter.

"What his concerns are it sends the wrong message to younger drivers that you can plead your way out of it," said Paine. "The first ordinance applies the state law to blood alcohol content, with .02 to .08 you will lose your license for a year. The second allowed the prosecutor to change that and that's the part Stan disagreed with."

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