FactFinder 12 uncovers discrepancies in Maize speed limit, ticketed drivers to be reimbursed

After a tip to FactFinder 12, investigators learned some drivers have been wrongly ticketed for speeding in the City of Maize.
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 9:52 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - After a tip to FactFinder 12, investigators learned some drivers have been wrongly ticketed for speeding in the City of Maize. Some paid hundreds of dollars in fines and have had insurance rates raised for tickets when they technically were not speeding.

Driving down the road, the number on the dash matters and should be at or close to what’s on the posted sign. But, what if, the sign is wrong? FactFinder 12 found that to be the case on at least five streets in Maize. The posted speed limits differ from what’s printed in the city’s code book.

FactFinder 12 made phone calls to five people who were ticketed for speeding in these areas. In documents obtained, city records show in 2022, 70 people were wrongly ticketed for speeding in the following areas:

  • 7900 through 10300 W. 45th St. N.
  • 12000 through 13500 W. 45th St. N.
  • 3800 through 4100 N. Maize Rd.
  • 4000 through 4500 N. 119th St. West

Benjamin Nichols was one of those who were ticketed and he said he never gets tickets.

“I get nervous, I haven’t done it in 15 years,” said Nichols.

Nichols said he was driving in Maize and didn’t see the speed limit sign. He said he was driving with the flow of traffic when a Maize police officer pulled up behind him.

“He flips on his lights, pulls me over, and he walks up and he says ‘I pulled you over for doing 53 in a 40.’ And I said ‘Oh, I’m so sorry sir, I hadn’t gone this way that much and I didn’t see a speed limit sign,’” said Nichols.

The ticket cost Nichols $158.

“But you have to think, I’ve been dealing with a bit of an increase on the insurance because of that ticket,” said Nichols.

The posted speed limit where he was ticketed was 40 miles an hour but the speed limit on the city books, the one that matters, is 55 miles an hour. Again, that means he wasn’t speeding.

“Knowing that this was a problem kind of makes me worry about how many others are out there. I’m a little confused why they wouldn’t have done something about this sooner,” said Nichols.

The City of Maize Police Chief Jeff Weible said he first heard about the discrepancies in September and told officers to stop ticketing people at the posted speed.

“Well, it is a big deal because it’s our job to follow what the ordinance reads and to enforce what the ordinance says,” said Chief Weible.

Maize City Manager Richard LaMunyon said the city will refund anyone who was wrongly ticketed. Nichols said it makes him feel a little better.

“I still want to know the question as to how this could’ve happened. Why? What’re they going to do about those of us who’ve had this ticket go on our record,” said Nichols.

Chief Weible, who has been with the department since March 2022, said since the FactFinder 12 investigation, they’ve made changes to their posted speed limit signs. Maize arterial streets are now 40 mph and residential streets are 30 mph unless posted otherwise.

“Well, I think this or anything else... is to know that we’ve identified a problem and we’re working to solve it,” said Chief Weible.

FactFinder 12 is still asking how long have the speed limit signs been incorrect. How long did the City of Maize know about the discrepancy? How far back will the city’s reimbursements be paid out?

City Manager LaMunyon said those questions are still under review. 12 News emailed all Maize city council members and the mayor to see how long they’ve known about the issue, but never heard back.