City of Wichita to reduce seat belt fine, increase DUI fines

The cost of getting busted for not wearing your seat belt in Wichita is probably going to get cheaper. But fines for driving under the influence could climb higher than ever.

Wichita City Council members will vote on both measures separately at their Tuesday morning meeting. The changes would mirror new laws approved during the legislative session in Topeka earlier this year.

If approved, fines for seat belt violations would drop from $30 to $10. The city wrote 5,067 such tickets last year.

The city fine for no seat belts is dropping after lawmakers passed a bill requiring cities to charge no more than $10 for a seat-belt violation.

Meanwhile, the minimum fine for a DUI will increase by $250. Drunk drivers would face at least a $750 fine on the first offense. The second time minimum would be $1,250, and the third would be $1,750. That's expected to generate an extra $225,000 worth of fines this year.

As part of the change, courts could look back only to July 1, 2001 for prior convictions. Previously, there was no limit.

The new law also allows police to use Breathalyzer tests up to three hours after a suspect has been driving. Use had been limited to two hours after driving.