Crime & Courts

Wichita is cracking down on bad drivers. Here are 7 mistakes that could cost you.

A Wichita police officer monitors traffic on West 21st.
A Wichita police officer monitors traffic on West 21st. Wichita Eagle

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated how court courts and fees are assessed. They are included in the fine amounts.

Last year, Wichita police wrote more than 47,000 traffic and parking tickets.

With newly launched enforcement efforts, including a new traffic bureau and the return of motorcycle patrol, the department is looking to crack down on bad drivers even more.

The Eagle analyzed traffic ticket data provided by the city to find out what offenses police cited people for most often in 2017.

The information doesn't include traffic tickets written by the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office or the Kansas Highway Patrol.

You can search The Eagle's database of 2017 traffic tickets below:

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Here are the top seven mistakes that could cost you if you drive on Wichita roads:

1. Speeding

Most people think that driving a few miles above the posted speed limit won't get them a ticket. But officially, Wichita police can cite you for going even 1 mph too fast. But that doesn't happen very often.

Tickets issued in 2017: 10,473 (this number doesn't include offenses like speeding in a construction or school zone)

Fines: $76.50 for 1 mph over. After that, the penalty increases $5 per mile.

5 mph over - $96.50

10 mph over - $121.50

20 mph over - $171.50

50 mph over - $321.50

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2. No proof of insurance

Everyone who owns a vehicle is required by law to carry motor vehicle liability insurance and keep a current record of it handy. Not being able to show proof that you have it to an officer who's stopped you will get you a "no proof of insurance" ticket.

Tickets issued in 2017: 4,650

Fine: If you have valid liability insurance when you're ticketed and show proof within 10 days, there's no charge. But if you don't have insurance, then you'll have to show up in court.

Driving without liability insurance is a misdemeanor crime that carries a mandatory fine of $300 to $1,000 and/or up to six months jail time. If you've been convicted of this within the past three years and are found guilty again, you could be fined $800 to $2,500 and face a year of imprisonment.

3. Driving on a suspended, revoked, canceled or fraudulent license

Just like you can't drive without insurance, you can't drive without a valid driver's license. Reasons the state can suspend your driver credentials include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not reporting a traffic accident, unpaid fines and being convicted of three moving violations in a year.

Your driving privileges can be revoked if you're responsible for a vehicular homicide, don't stop and render aid at an injury or fatal crash, drive recklessly or try to elude police, among other things.

Tickets issued in 2017: 3,481

Fine: This requires a court appearance. Penalties vary. Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor crime that carries a fine of $100 to $1,500.

4. No driver's license

You can get ticketed for driving without a license if you have a current and valid license but forgot to take it with you when you go, for example, to work or to the grocery store. This offense is different than driving on a suspended, revoked, canceled or fraudulent license. And luckily there's a no-cost fix for most drivers.

Tickets issued in 2017: 3,352

Fine: No charge if you have a valid driver's license at the time the ticket is issued and you show proof of it. It's a $101.50 fine If you don't have a valid driver's license but obtain one and show proof of it within 10 days.

If you can't produce a valid driver's license, expect a $176.50 fine.

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5. Seat belt required, 18 or older

Police can pull you over and ticket you when they notice you've skipped buckling up - even if you're following all other traffic laws. Last year, adults in Wichita were far more likely to be seat belt law violators than children. Anyone in a car who is 18 or older, including passengers, can be given a ticket if they don't wear a seat belt.

Tickets to adults issued in 2017: 3,053

Fine: $30 for adults. Penalties associated with child restraint and seat belt violations are pricier - $60 to $131.50, depending on the child's age.

6. Speeding in a construction area

Even though most of Kansas doubles fines for speeding in construction zones, Wichita doesn't. There has been talk in the past of increasing the penalties. But it hasn't happened yet.

Tickets issued in 2017: 2,846

Fine: Same as fines for other speeding tickets. The city also doesn't charge more for speeding in school zones.

7. Inattentive driving

A host of driving behaviors like eating tacos behind the wheel, applying makeup with the rear view mirror and tending to children in the backseat can get you cited for inattentive driving. Using cellphones and electronic devices in a way that takes your proper attention away from the road can, too. Texting while driving is a separate category that got Wichita drivers cited 124 times last year.

Tickets issued in 2017: 2,693

Fine: $131.50

Wichita Municipal Court assesses $46 in court costs and fees for all traffic offenses, except for seat belt violations. Those costs are included in the fine amounts listed above. People ticketed can be charged a $10 court appearance fee if their case is set for trial.

The fees are waived if a person is found not guilty.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker
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