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Police cite son of Kansas City mayor for careless driving after he refused breath test

Updated: 2014-02-08T03:30:07Z

By CHRISTINE VENDEL

The Kansas City Star

Kansas City police on Thursday cited Kyle James, son of Mayor Sly James, for careless driving in connection with a December incident in which he was arrested for suspected drunken driving.

It marks the second time James has been arrested for DUI but not charged with it, according to a police report.

A patrol officer saw his vehicle apparently speeding near 31st Street and Troost Avenue about 11:30 p.m. Dec. 18. After the vehicle drove over a curb with two tires, the officer stopped James to investigate.

The officer noticed a faint odor of alcohol and saw that James’ eyes were watery, bloodshot and glassy and his pupils were dilated, according to a police report. His speech was confused and rambling, the report said.

After James, 25, failed a series of field sobriety tests, the officer called a specially trained DUI officer to perform a breath test. James refused, saying he had been drinking and “it’ll be close,” according to a police report.

But James told The Star on Friday he refused because he wasn’t drunk and should not have been asked to take the test. He acknowledged drinking one beer with dinner but said he was not impaired.

“I glanced a curb,” he said. “I’m not being charged with something else because I didn’t commit a crime.”

James said he doesn’t think he received any special treatment. Quite the contrary, he said.

“I spent the night in jail with everybody else,” he said, adding that his refusal caused his driver’s license to be revoked.

The day after James’ arrest, police released him while they investigated for prior arrests, which would determine what type of charges were pursued.

Investigators determined that James had a DUI conviction from Johnson County and an alcohol-related arrest in Jackson County. No charges were filed from the Jackson County arrest and no further details were available about that case.

Under a 2010 change in Missouri law, jurisdiction for DUI cases must remain in state court if drivers have two prior alcohol-related contacts with police, said Detective Greg Devalkenaere. That meant police could not cite James with DUI in city court, so police submitted their case file to Jackson County prosecutors, who declined to charge James with DUI. They said they didn’t have sufficient evidence.

Instead, they told police to cite James through city court with careless and imprudent driving.

Police think they had enough evidence for a state DUI charge.

They said James’ driving provided reasonable suspicion to pull him over for DUI. And he failed three roadside tests: an eye test, a walk-and-turn test and a one-leg standing test.

“Those observations alone meet the legal requirements for a DUI charge,” said Police Capt. Tye Grant, a department spokesman.

A breath test is an additional piece of evidence, but it is not necessary for a DUI charge, police said.

Prosecutors declined to comment on James’ case because he has a pending citation for careless driving.

James has been arrested several times since voters elected his father mayor. His father is on the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, which oversees the Kansas City Police Department’s operations.

The mayor declined comment Friday night.

To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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