According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, as of October 2023, there were 208,347 driver's licenses suspended in Kansas. However, even though Wichita and Sedwick County has only 16% of the State population of 3,314,000 people, in an effort to force poor people to pay high traffic fines, fees and court costs, their Judges and Court Clerks have suspended the license of 51,400 drivers or 25% of all suspensions in our State.
To help these people get their license reinstated, on August 24th, 2019, the Racial Profiling Advisory Board of Wichita held a workshop which was attended by over 300 of these drivers. Nearly all of those who came are Black. Five attorneys provided free individual consultations to help participants determine the status of their license and recommend ways to work through the bureaucratic maze to qualify for reinstatement.
Then on September 16th, 2023, the RPAB held another workshop to help drivers who have had their license suspended due to unpaid traffic tickets. Six attorneys consulted with over 140 drivers to help them through the bureacratic maze so they can receive a Restricted License to drive again legally while they are paying off their accumulated fines and fees. Click HERE to watch the KWCH news report on this important event.
After the 2019 workshop, Dr. Walt Chappell—Former Vice Chair of the RPAB—completed an independent analysis which is available to download below of all 137,283 traffic citations issued by WPD officers during 2016-17-18. The data was provided and the analysis authorized by Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay in an effort to be more transparent with the people whom his officers "Protect and Serve".
Dr. Chappell sorted the data for each year by Race, Violation, Officer, Beat and whether the traffic ticket was issued as the result of a vehicle accident. This analysis confirmed the fact that traffic laws are disproportionately enforced in Wichita with Black drivers receiving twice as many citations a White drivers.
For example, a WPD Bureau Commander confirmed that his officers use license plate scanners in their patrol cars to suggest that the vehicle is being driven by a person with a suspended license. In the Black Community, their suspicions are frequently wrong because cars are often shared with neighbors or other family members. Furthermore, Pretext stops made on that assumption are illegal because they were NOT based on a moving traffic violation which must first be observed to give the officer a “Probable Cause” to make the stop.
But as a result of Pretext stops like this, the Wichita data show that there are still thousands of tickets being issued to Black drivers by WPD officers which have nothing to do with a moving traffic violation.
Census data for 2020 reports that there are 62% White Caucasians, 10.3% Black and 17.6% Hispanic people living in Wichita. But in the data collected on traffic tickets issued by WPD officers, the Hispanic population is lumped together under the WHITE race category.
This race and ethnicity information can be easily collected by adding a HISPANIC check box to newly formatted traffic tickets. But, until new tickets are printed with this additional data field, it is impossible to separate Caucasian from Hispanic stop data.
The bottom line is that Black drivers in Wichita are TWICE AS LIKELY TO GET A TRAFFIC TICKET TO PAY as White drivers. Data presented to the Wichita Citizens Review Board by the WPD of their analysis of 2022-23 stops verified that this unequal enforcement of traffic laws is still occurring.
Given historical data going back decades, this is likely the case in most jurisdictions in Kansas and across the USA. Blacks are also issued more than one violation per stop which is not the case for tickets issued to White drivers.
Since the whole purpose of issuing tickets is to supposedly improve driving behavior to prevent traffic accidents, data from six studies since 2000 verifies that Black drivers are JUST AS LIKELY to get into an accident as White drivers BUT are still twice as likely to get a ticket and with more than one violation cited. Futhermore, 50% of the citations issued to Black drivers in Wichita are for non-moving violations which have nothing to do with safe driving behavior or preventing accidents.
It all starts with racially profiled TRAFFIC STOPS!!! It is no wonder that THOUSANDS OF BLACK DRIVERS IN WICHITA have had their license suspended due to non-payment of the huge fines and ever increasing court costs. These disproportionate stops also put more Black men and women in jail which keeps them in poverty with no way to financially support or keep their family together. It then falls on tax payers to pay for Food Stamps, rent subsidies, medical care, keeping people in jail and foster care for their children.
Suspending drivers licenses to collect traffic fines and fees must STOP. Please join our coalition of people and organizations working to change Kansas laws so Courts can no longer put people under "House Arrest" to collect a debt. CLICK HERE to call or send us an email.
To check the status of your Kansas Driver’s License—CLICK HERE!! If necessary, you may want to hire an attorney to help you get your license reinstated.
Here are a few of the Wichita attorneys who handle these kinds of suspended license cases:
1) Robert Moody - Attorney at Law
Martin, Pringle Law Firm
100 N Broadway
Wichita, KS 67202
2) Adeel Sayeed - Attorney at Law
PO Box 49222
Wichita, KS 67202
3) Eric Kidwell - Attorney at Law
225 N. Market
Wichita, KS 67202
SR-22 Insurance Agent
Kevin “Scoobie” Hutchins
1833 N Rock Road Ct
Wichita, KS 67206
Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau helped pass SB127 and spoke at the Suspended License Workshop sponsored by the RPAB on August 14th, 2021. Over 300 drivers attended and were consulted by four Wichita attorneys. Other speakers included RPAB Chair--Sheila Officer, District Attorney Marc Bennett, WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay, Municipal Court Clerk Nathan Emmorey and Sedgwick County Sheriff Col. Brian White.
Download this 2023 Kansas Department of Revenue summary of the 208,347 Suspended and 1,671 Revoked drivers license totals.
Download this 4 year summary of how many Restricted licenses were actually issued by the Kansas Department of Revenue. Notice that out of 7,459 applications between 2019 and 2022, only 4,914 Restricted licenses were approved and of those, just 2,172 or 29% were finally reissued a regular drivers license.
Even worse, in 2022, there were 3,070 applications sent in to Topeka but only half were approved. Out of those who applied, only 10% or just 317 drivers throughout the whole state actually got all the way through the process and had their regular license reinstated.
Obviously, all of the "Catch 22s" currently in Kansas laws makes it nearly impossible to have a drivers license reissued once it is Suspended. Even after all fines and fees are paid, there are often more hoops to jump through which prevent a person from ever being allowed to drive again legally.
So, it is up to the 2024 Legislature to amend the statutes which keep 208,347 Kansas drivers from being permitted to drive to work and take care of their families.
Passing SB192 which was introduced in February of 2023 will solve these problems and treat our fellow Kansans with the respect they deserve. A copy of this By-partisan bill is attached below to download and share. Let's work together to get it passed!!
Download this PDF analysis done by Dr. Walt Chappell of all 137,283 traffic citations issued by WPD officers between 2016 and 2018. It clearly shows that Black drivers were twice as likely to be cited in Wichita for one or more traffic violation than White drivers. The next attachment shows that 50% of the citations Black drivers received were for Non-Moving violations which have nothing to do with traffic safety or preventing vehicle accidents.
Between 2016-2018, 50% of the citations issued to Black drivers by Wichita police officers were for Non-Moving violations such as expired tag, no license in possession, driving on a suspended license, no proof of insurance or broken tail light. These "violations" are the result of limited income rather than unsafe driving. And, IT IS NOT A CRIME TO BE POOR!!
The Relative Risk Index analysis below done by Dr. Michael Birzer from Wichita State University's Criminal Justice Department shows that in 2020 Black drivers were twice to 12xs more likely to be issued a traffic citation for the same violations as White drivers.
Dr. Birzer's full report of 2016-2018 WPD traffic citations is attached below to download. Notice on Page 17 that Black drivers passing through four zip codes where predominantely White people live received more tickets.
Kansas vs. Charles Glover regarding the use of license plate scanners to stop people who may have their driver's license suspended.
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