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4 Small (But Kinda Big) Differences Between Kansas And Missouri

Pixabay / CC

The Kansas-Missouri state line is one of the easiest state borders to cross. In fact, it's one of the only state dividers that has an actual road lying on most of it

But as Kansans and Missourians know, there are plenty of differences between the states.

Here are a few of the technicalities when it comes to state laws governing everyday life:


The devil's drink is undoubtedly easier to buy and consume in Missouri than in Kansas. Grocery stores, gas stations and liquor stores in Missouri carry a myriad of spirits, malt beverages, wines and beers with no limits on alcohol percentage by volume. And stores can sell liquor until midnight on Sundays.

On the Kansas side, liquor stores can't sell liquor past 8 p.m. on Sundays, and even that requires a special license. Grocery stores are also prohibited from selling beer above 3.2 percent, so liquor stores are Kansans' main source for hooch.

Despite those restrictions, Kansas counties allow liquor stores to sell 40 oz. bottles of malt liquor and beer, while Kansas City, Mo., prohibits anything over 32 oz. The city does allow 25 oz. bottles with ABV percentages of 8.0 and higher, which is effectively the same as a 40 oz. in terms of potential intoxicating power.  

Traffic violations

Each state counts traffic violations differently. Missouri relies on a point system. Each violation is worth a different point value, which can vary depending on whether the crime is handled by municipal or district courts. Licenses get suspended after eight points within 18 months; drivers lose their licenses after 12 points in 12 months.

In Kansas, a driver's license is suspended if he or she reaches three violations within 12 months. 

How each jurisdiction handles the other's violations is simple: If you have a Missouri license and break a traffic law in Kansas, you'll earn points. If you hold a Kansas license and violate a Missouri law, Kansas counts it as a violation.

Driver's licenses

Neither Kansas nor Missouri requires driver's education. The minimum age for a learner's permit in Kansas is 14; in Missouri it's 15. A road sign test, written test and vision test are required for both. 

For intermediate licenses, both states require the driver to be 16 years old with at least a year of permit experience. Kansas teens can only drive from 5 a.m.-9 p.m., while Missouri teens can drive from 5 a.m.-1 a.m. 


Getting married in Kansas is a longer process than it is in Missouri. State law requires that couples wait three business days after applying for a marriage license to pick it up. Once the license has been processed, the couple then has six months to perform a ceremony to finalize the marriage.

In Missouri there's no waiting period to get married, but the ceremony must be performed within 30 days after the license is issued. For those thinking of going to Las Vegas to get married, maybe it would be easier to hit up the Show-Me State instead.

As far as same-sex marriage goes, Kansas and Missouri are similar. On the Kansas side, gay couples can only get licenses in certain counties. The state has appealed to The Supreme Court, which is expected to make a ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage this year. 

In Missouri, Jackson County and St. Louis county are currently issuing licenses to same-sex couples. The state has asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay its decision and wait for the Supreme Court's ruling.

This look at the Missouri-Kansas state line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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