According to the Department of Revenue, as of October 2019, there were 213,544 driver's licenses suspended in Kansas. However, even though Wichita has only 13% of the State population, in an effort to force poor people to pay high traffic fines and fees, their Municipal Court judges have suspended the license of 51,400 drivers or 24% 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.
Those who came, were also invited to sign a Petition to change the Kansas laws so Courts can no longer suspend a person's license to collect traffic ticket fines and fees. (Download the Petition below to print and get signatures for our Board to take to the Legislature.)
After that workshop, Dr. Walt Chappell—Vice Chair of the RPAB—completed an independent analysis of all traffic citations issued by WPD officers during 2016-17-18. The data was provided and analysis authorized by Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay in an effort to be more transparent with the people who 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 has confirmed some long held concerns about unequal traffic law enforcement in Wichita and other jurisdictions across America.
For example, one of the WPD Bureau Commanders confirmed that WPD 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.
This issue is now before the US Supreme Court as outlined in Amicus briefs filed in the Kansas vs. Charles Glover case. (Download the briefs below.) But as a result of these Pretext stops, the Wichita data show that there are thousands of tickets being issued to Black drivers by WPD officers which have nothing to do with moving traffic violations.
Census data for 2018 reports that there are 63% White Caucasians and 11% Black people living in Wichita. But in the data collected on the current traffic tickets used by WPD officers, the 17% Hispanic population is lumped together under the WHITE race category. (See the population data below.)
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 STILL TWICE AS LIKELY TO GET A TRAFFIC TICKET TO PAY as White drivers. 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, this data analysis verifies that Blacks in Wichita were involved in 19% of the accidents while White and Hispanic drivers accounted for 78% of traffic accidents. So, 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. Black drivers are also given a disproportionate number of non-moving violation fines and fees to pay which have nothing to do with safe driving behavior.
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 behind bars 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
Kansas vs. Charles Glover regarding the use of license plate scanners to stop people who may have their driver's license suspended.