WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge ordered the Kansas Highway Patrol to stop using a procedure called the “Kansas Two-Step,” on the grounds that it was a violation of the fourth amendment.
When a traffic stop is over, the KHP has a responsibility to let drivers go, according to Wichita-based criminal defense lawyer Dan Monnat.
“The trooper is required to issue a traffic citation, a warning, and return the driver’s license and allow the motorist to be on his way,” Monnat said.
Using the two-step maneuver, a trooper would return documents to a driver and then walk “two steps” away, ending the traffic stop.
Then, the trooper would go back to the driver’s window to question them. The trooper would assume the driver knew they did not have to answer questions since the stop was technically over.
“Their argument is, ‘Hey, these people know they’re free when I give them back the ticket and I give them their driver’s license,’” Monnat said.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court that drivers did not know they were free to go when the tactic was used, and the judge agreed.
“Drivers are not in a position to say no to the officer’s requests for additional information, and they can’t safely drive off,” said Sharon Brett, ACLU of Kansas’ Legal Director.
The tactic was used to find a reason to search cars with plates from states that have fewer restrictions on marijuana, according to the ACLU.
“Which today means literally every state that surrounds the state of Kansas,” Brett said. Part of the judge’s order requires troopers to tell drivers they are free to go at the end of a stop.
The KHP has until August 14th to respond to the judge’s order in court.
KSN reached out to the KHP, who did not provide comment.
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