For today’s blog, I would like to address a question that I hear quite often. Some people know the answer, but a lot more do not. Is it really illegal to not notify the motor vehicle department when you change your address? In Kansas, it is a misdemeanor to change your address and not notify the motor vehicle department. This is set out in KSA 8-248. This statute sets out that when you change from the mailing address listed on your application for license or the address listed on your prior license, you must notify the division of motor vehicles, in writing, within 10 days. Failure to do this, is listed as a misdemeanor.
So why make this a crime? I believe the legislature has several policy reasons for this. Primarily, if the division of motor vehicles ever wants to suspend or restrict your license, they must have a way to notify you. Most laws dealing with suspensions or restrictions will lay the burden on a defendant to prove they notified the division or a new address rather than requiring the division to prove they attempted to locate the driver other than the address they had on file. Another reason is for law enforcement in the field. If you are stopped, the law enforcement officer will need to know your current address for any potential summons and this address could be different than the address on your licnse.
For the defense, this seems to be another strict liability offense. Can you have a defense if you did not know this was illegal? In Kansas, this is usually not a defense. I believe, however, that if a defense attorney can negotiate with a prosecutor and show genuine good faith that a driver would have notified if they knew it was illegal, most prosecutors would offer a lesser sentence.
As a prosecutor, as we have seen though past blogs, most strict liability offenses are easier to prove. Be careful, however, in always assuming there was no error on the side of the division. Most motor vehicle licensing agencies are very large and notices can get lost.
Until next time, drive safe!