The Kansas House passed a bill prohibiting wheel spinning on Feb. 21, 2018 in a 82-40 vote. The legislation gained first-round approval the day prior, in a much closer 59-55 vote. It is moving to the Senate.
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Lawmakers appeared persuaded that concerns that the bill’s ban on intentional wheel spinning, and not just unnecessary wheel spinning, could cause problems. Rep. Boog Highberger, D-Lawrence, indicated an amendment will be brought in the Senate to fix the issue.
The bill, which would set a $100 fine for violations, advanced on a 59-55 vote. It would apply to moving and stationary vehicles in normal road conditions.
Kansas law already prohibits “exhibition of speed or acceleration.”
The Kansas Supreme Court last year threw out a conviction for driving under the influence that began with a traffic stop made under the current law. A driver was pulled over in Olathe in 2013 after a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy saw him revving his engine, smelled rubber and saw smoke coming from underneath his vehicle, the driver was at a light and not moving. The officer, however, did suspect he was driving under the influence.
The Supreme Court ultimately found that the current law implies that a vehicle must be moving for an exhibition of speed or acceleration to take place. Because Sharp’s vehicle wasn’t moving, the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make the initial stop, the court ruled.
“Officers have long recognized what an exhibition of acceleration is, but without clarity for persons operating motor vehicles, that’s a tough thing to enforce,” said Greg Smith, with the Johnson County sheriff’s office.
Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita believes that the current law is used too broadly. He added that the proposal in the House is not substantially better.
“If the officer sees a true violation of the law, they ought to cite it. But having a vague standard left to the officer’s discretion is not the proper way to deal with careless or negligent driving,” Carmichael said.
Rep. Eric Smith, R-Burlington, a deputy sheriff in Coffey County, stated, “We’ve always written (citations) under exhibition and acceleration when somebody’s power braking, when they stomp on the brake and slowly accelerate until the wheels spin,” Smith said.
Smith says that the bill prohibits maneuvers that can be dangerous. He added that cases involving wheel spinning could pose life-threatening injuries. Smith also mentioned that if a driver is power braking in traffic and the foot slips off the brake, the vehicle can move sideways, causing injury to others.
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