How damaged can your windshield be before you are in violation of the law? Can you have some materials on your windshield or none at all?
These are questions that we examine in today’s topic regarding one of the most important pieces of equipment on your vehicle; the windshield. In Kansas, the statute setting out the answers to the above questions is K.S.A. 8-1741. This statute states that a driver cannot drive a vehicle with any non-transparent matieral upon the windshield that would substantially obstruct their “clear view” of the highway or road. The same would apply to any cracks or damage. You must always have a clear view of the highway or road and you must also have equipment in working order to clean away any rain or snow.
The policy behind this statute is very obvious. The legislature clearly intends to want to encourage drivers to have the best view of the road possible for safer driving. However, why not ban all materials and any sort of damage whatsoever?
For the defense, it seems that the State would have to prove that even if there was damage or material on the windshield, it would have to substantially obstruct the view. Why allow any sort of obstruction at all? I believe that this might allow for some type of legal winshield tint to help block the sun or allow some sort of parking or toll road pass stickers. I do not think the legislature wanted to go so far as to disallow any stickers or tint at all and, thus, most defense attorneys would likely argue that any damage or material found did not substantially obstruct the view.
For prosecutors, this statute seems more difficult to prove than other strict liability statutes we have seen in the past. It could be difficult to prove the view was substantially obstructed unless the officer had a picture or could testify in great detail of how the vehicle looked on the day it was stopped. I believe, however, if a clear picture or video could be shown, a Judge could be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the windshield was obstructed.
Until next time, drive safe!