Ask the Prosecutor: Karen Wittman, Assistant Attorney General

Hello, everyone. I am honored to have been asked to do a regular “Ask the Prosecutor” column for the website.

I want to use this first column to introduce myself.  I am Karen Wittman, assistant attorney general, and I serve as the Kansas traffic safety resource prosecutor (TSRP) through a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).  I have been the TSRP since March 2008.

How did I get here? I graduated in 1981 from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, with a bachelor of science in forensic science with a minor in chemistry. I worked in a crime lab for six years prior to going to law school. I have testified as an expert witness in the field of forensic chemistry in both state and federal courts in Florida. I attended Washburn University School of Law, passing the Kansas bar in 1991.    

I have been a prosecutor for over 20 years. Prior to getting the TSRP job, I was senior assistant district attorney for the Third Judicial District (Shawnee County). My last eight years, I was in charge of all traffic-related prosecutions, such as those involving drunk/drugged driving. I handled all prosecutable fatality crashes and attended over 50 fatality crash scenes – at all hours of the night and day – approximately half of which required the filing of criminal charges. 

I was asked to do this column because of my experience with young drunk and drugged drivers and because I handled underage drinking-related prosecutions for the D.A., including underage hosting violations. In my position as TSRP, I have toured the state twice for KDOT, training prosecutors and law enforcement professionals in the legalities of successfully arresting, charging and prosecuting drunk-driving and underage-drinking violations.

I am an adjunct professor at Florida International University, where I have taught “From Crime Scene to Courtroom" online for the chemistry department. I also am an adjunct professor at Washburn Law School. I have taught “Forensic Science and the Law,” “Forensic Science Evidence” and “Criminal Pretrial Advocacy.”

I am a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in both the Criminalistics and Jurisprudence sections. I also belong to the Kansas County & District Attorneys Association and I am a board member of the Sunflower Alcohol Safety Action Project.

I served as the attorney general’s designee on the Kansas DUI Commission, which met during 2009-2010 and delivered its recommendations to the 2011 Kansas Legislature.

Since 1996, I have served as municipal judge in Silver Lake, Kansas.

I am married and have two underage kids, 13 and 15. So I am very aware of the challenges of keeping children safe.

Now that you know a little about me, I certainly hope that you take the opportunity to ask me questions about the underage drinking and drinking and driving laws in the state so we all can better serve our communities and keep our kids alcohol free.  

Do you have a question about the enforcement of underage drinking or drunk driving laws?
Email us here.