Have you ever been driving and noticed a stop sign with graffiti? Have you ever wanted to throw rocks at a red stop light that never seems to change? Have you ever wondered what the punishment might be for doing any of these acts? If so, today’s blog is just for you!
In Kansas, this statute on any interference with traffic control devices can be found in KSA 8-1513. Simply stated, this statute says no person may alter, injure, deface, knock down, etc. any traffic control device or railroad sign or make any attempt to do any of these acts. It makes a conviction under this statute punishable by a misdemeanor. Given most offenses we have reviewed regarding traffic convictions involve only infractions with a fine, one can see the legilslature takes this act pretty seriously and wants to deter any thoughts at vandalism or other attempts to alter traffic devices.
For the defense, can you be guilty if this is done in a traffic accident? It seems this is one of the few traffic statutes that actually might require a bit of intent. Given there is extra language about “attempting” to deface or injure, this makes me believe that there might need to be an intent to do one of these acts, but the statute is not completely clear. If this act is not an accident, there does not seem to be much left for the defense to argue.
For prosecutors, most would want this statute to be a strict liability offense independent on whether an accident happened or not. I believe most proscutors would have a strong desire to make sure no local traffic control devices are knocked down or defanced. It is certainly a good argument, however, on whether this statute would require an intent to knock down or deface any device.
Until next time, drive safe!