A new law went into effect Monday allowing Kansas drivers to refuse field sobriety tests administrated by law enforcement officers. Under the new protocol, drivers suspected of driving under the influence cannot be charged with a crime for refusing to comply. 

However, drivers who decide to forgo the test will face a year-long license suspension — the longest suspension possible for failing a breathalyzer or blood test — and drivers can still be prosecuted for driving under the influence based on other evidence. 

Field sobriety tests are usually physical tests officers administer to determine a driver's intoxication. These tests can include tasks such as standing on one leg or walking in a straight line and are usually administered before a driver takes either a breathalyzer or blood test. 

The new law comes as the Kansas appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court deliberate over whether or not those driving on highways and interstates give implied consent to sobriety tests.

Ed Klumpp, a Kansas Judicial Council member and a lobbyist for law enforcement groups, told the Wichita Eagle some DUI cases may be more difficult for police officers to make now.

"There was a benefit to having that for the test refusals simply because it encouraged more people to take the test," he said of the compulsory testing. "Let's face it — that's what it was designed to do." Klumpp added the punishments for those who refuse the test will likely be harsher than for those who take the test and fail. 

"In the long run, I think maybe this makes it a little more difficult for our law enforcement officers, but the job they do out there — I'm not concerned that our highways or streets are going to be any less safe based on the officers' ability to get drunk drivers off the road," Bradley Ralph, the Republican vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told The Eagle.

Likewise, Independence Chief of Police Jerry Harrison stated he doesn't see a problem with the new law going into effect, having worked with it in Missouri for 19 years before coming to Kansas.

"It falls into the same category in the constitution as to what is considered a search. We can't search a property or a vehicle without a warrant. Likewise, we can't force a party into participating in a field sobriety test," said Harrison. "I think it's reasonable. It's reasonable and it won't impede our ability to do our jobs."