One Missouri traffic ticket is all it takes to cripple your finances for up to five years. That's a long time to pay fines, fees, surcharges, and higher insurance premiums. You could even go to jail for a traffic violation. Whether you're charged with a major or minor traffic violation, you should always consider fighting your ticket.
Each year, courts in the United States issue more than 41 million traffic tickets at an average cost of $152. Since drivers only contest 5% of those tickets, states make well over $5 billion each year. That's enough money to make you one of the richest people in the country. If drivers were to contest another 1% of those tickets, they could save more than $62 million.
In Missouri, the savings could be even better. At around $80, Missouri tends to have significantly lower fines than the national average. But that's not counting expensive court costs and other prices. In fact, counties in Missouri are allowed to make up to 20% of their annual budgets from traffic ticket fines.
That makes your wallet a treasure trove for traffic enforcement officers. But, if you get your traffic ticket dismissed, you won't have to pay a penny to the court. This article will give you all the information you need to fight a Missouri traffic ticket.
On the other hand, you could just hire a traffic ticket lawyer and stop reading now!
Traffic tickets and parking tickets are similar in many ways. But knowing the difference between the two can be a great help when fighting your ticket. Although the differences might seem obvious, there's a lot more to it than that.
Traffic tickets are written to the person operating the vehicle (or sometimes to a passenger). They are written directly to the person who commits the violation.
Parking tickets, on the other hand, are written to the registered owner of the vehicle. If somebody else is using your vehicle, a traffic ticket will be issued to them but a parking ticket will still be issued to you.
Another difference is that parking tickets tend to be cheaper and easier to fight. Sometimes, it's even possible to get a parking ticket dismissed with a simple grocery store receipt. As long as you can prove that your vehicle wasn't where it was said to be, you might get off!
There are two kinds of traffic violations in Missouri: Minor and major. Minor violations are easier to bear in almost every way. Major violations, on the other hand, can break the bank and send you to jail. You can further break down these categories into moving violations and non-moving violations.
It's not always easy to tell what kind of violation you've committed. A helpful rule of thumb is that traffic tickets you get while in motion are moving violations. But that's not always the case. Equipment violations are a great example. If you get a ticket for driving with a cracked windshield, that's technically a non-moving ticket.
Non-moving violations are lesser kinds of violations. These violations tend to have lower penalties, lower costs, and are easier to fix. The downside is that you can get them over and over again until you've fixed the issue. Unfortunately, Missouri does not explicitly allow fix-it ticket defenses.
Minor violations include things like forgetting to wear a seatbelt or protective headgear. These violations tend to have fines of less than $50 and will almost never send you to jail. That being said, there are several ways to turn a minor violation from bad to worse:
Although these tickets might seem simple, they're still a challenge to beat. Even if you've already entered a plea, you should consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer. That will maximize your chances of beating your ticket.
Major violations tend to be criminal traffic violations, like misdemeanors and felonies. These violations can send you to jail. In other words, a single traffic ticket in Missouri can leave you with a criminal record.
Misdemeanors are mid-level offenses. They are worse than infractions (i.e. minor offenses) but not as bad as felonies. Misdemeanors include things like speeding at over 100 mph or driving without a license.
Felonies are the worst of the worst. These offenses often carry years or even decades of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. To make matters worse, ordinary traffic ticket attorneys cannot help you with a criminal traffic violation. Instead, you should contact a criminal defense attorney.
Fortunately, Missouri isn't Georgia. Georgia traffic tickets can cost an arm and a leg, with fines sometimes reaching over $1,000. Missouri traffic tickets are more closely related to Washington traffic tickets in terms of fines.
The Missouri supreme court sets traffic ticket costs at up to $300, but that's not including non-monetary penalties. It's also not including insurance increases as a result of the traffic ticket conviction. In other words, a single traffic ticket is likely to cost you much more than the maximum $300 penalty for minor violations.
Fines for Missouri traffic tickets can be as high as $300, including court costs, fees, and surcharges. However, most fines tend to be less than $155.50 for minor violations. In fact, most tickets around the state only cost $50.50 or $80.50. Even so, that's a lot of money to pay up front.
Of course, that's only counting the statewide mandates. Fines can vary significantly from county to county. That's because of the way the system works. Speed limits laws are set by the United States Congress, which leaves a lot of wiggle room for states. The states then set their own rules, allowing wiggle room for counties. And so on.
In other words, fines may vary from place to place.
Traffic ticket fees include any cost that you'll have to pay as a result of the judicial process. That includes court costs, DMV service fees, and even things like a credit card convenience fee. DMV fees and convenience fees are usually mild, such as paying a couple dollars to use a credit card. However, court costs can sometimes cost more than the ticket itself.
For example, the fine for an adult seatbelt violation is $10. However, court costs and fees could be around $50. They could be even more or less, depending on the local court and other state regulations. That would make the court costs five times as expensive as the ticket itself. And that's not even counting surcharges.
Surcharges are additional costs that you must pay after a traffic ticket conviction in Missouri. These surcharges often surprise drivers who think that they'll be paying low fines and fees. Next thing you know, your ticket is doubling in cost.
Here are a few examples of the most common surcharges in Missouri:
The cost of these surcharges can vary depending on where the violation took place and what the violation entailed. For a simple seatbelt violation, you might only have to pay a couple dollars for the CVC surcharge. However, the CVC surcharge can cost up to $25,000 for major crimes.
According to a report by the Zebra, a single traffic ticket can increase your insurance premiums by as much as 82.2%. That could take your insurance from the average ($1,410) up to $2,569.02. Of course, that's for hit and run convictions.
For simple speeding violations, you can expect an average insurance increase of around 23.2%. That's about the same as paying an extra quarter for every dollar you spend. Instead of paying $1,410, you would have to pay $1,737.12. That's an increase of $327.12.
To make matters worse, this increase can last as long as the insurance company can see your driving record. Fortunately, good behaviour can cause the state of Missouri to remove violations from your record after three years. However, $327.12 over three years comes out to almost $1,000 on top of the original fine, fees, and surcharges.
Suffice to say that you should always consider fighting your ticket. The WinIt app can help you do so.
Money isn't the only thing you have to worry about when you get a traffic ticket in Missouri. You'll also have to worry about your license, your vehicle, and your freedom, among other things. There are plenty more costs associated with getting a traffic ticket than just having to pay fines, fees, surcharges, etc.
The state of Missouri can suspend or even revoke your license for major violations or multiple minor violations. That means you won't be able to legally use your license for a definite or indefinite period of time. The state can even impound your vehicle or send you straight to jail.
A suspended or revoked license is an invalid license. To have an invalid license is to not be allowed to drive. If you drive on an invalid license, you may be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, which has the potential to send you to jail for up to six months and cost up to $1,000.
The process of getting your license back can be long and challenging—not to mention expensive. Depending on what kind of penalties have been prescribed, you may have to pay $20 or more on top of your original fines. If your license were revoked, you won't be able to get it back at all. Instead, you'll have to get an entirely new license.
In some cases, the government can even confiscate and impound your vehicle. If the police think your vehicle were involved in certain kinds of crimes, they can permanently confiscate your vehicle. This is done through a process known as civil forfeiture. You don't even have to be convicted of a crime for this to happen.
Another way to lose your vehicle is to rack up too much traffic ticket debt to pay it off. The state can then confiscate your vehicle for auction in order to pay off the debt. Of course, the state will also keep whatever extra money it makes from the auction.
You cannot go to jail for minor traffic violations unless they involve alcohol, controlled substances, endangerment of others, eluding police, or fraud/perjury. In other words, there's no going to jail just because you forgot to wear a seatbelt.
However, major crimes (i.e., misdemeanors and felonies) can send you to jail. When jail time is a possible penalty of a traffic violation, you will not be able to hire a standard traffic ticket attorney.
Missouri's Department of Revenue (DOR) is in charge of the administration of the state's driver license point system. The point system works to penalize drivers who earn more than a set number of points within a set amount of time. The most common penalty is the suspension of your driving privileges.
If you get more than three points on your license within one year, the DOR will issue you what's called an "accumulation advisory letter."
If you get more than seven points within 18 months, the DOR will suspend your license. The first suspension will be for 30 days, the second for 60 days, and the third for 90 days. If you are convicted of more violations after your eighth point, you may have your license revoked. Here are three examples:
Any points that you earn will stay on your record for up to three years, unless you successfully complete driving school or satisfy another similar requirement. Any point-based suspension or revocation will stay on your record for up to five years.
Since a single speeding ticket can earn you three points, you could end up with an accumulation advisory letter after your second offense. To prevent this, you should always consider fighting your traffic ticket through the WinIt app.
It is important to know that traffic tickets with no points can still impact your driving record and increase your insurance premiums.
Unfortunately, the state of Missouri does not offer traffic school in lieu of paying a traffic ticket. However, traffic school can significantly lessen the impact of Missouri traffic tickets on your record.
Successful completion of a traffic school program in Missouri can cause the state to remove points from your record. This is most helpful when you're on the cusp of getting your license suspended or revoked. It's also helpful when you're looking to save money on car insurance.
Traffic court is the place where judges and attorneys handle non-criminal traffic and parking tickets. A common misconception is that there are separate courts for each kind of proceeding. In reality, traffic court is only one kind of process within the larger municipal courts (a.k.a. county courts).
When you get a traffic or parking ticket and want to contest it, you will go to traffic court. Even if you don't want to contest your ticket, you will still have to deal with the court. The idea that you can avoid the courthouse entirely if you plead guilty is a myth. You will still have to contact the court to arrange payment, file the necessary plea paperwork, and so on.
Whether you want to go to court or not, you should always consider hiring a lawyer to show you the ropes.
Each municipality has its own contact information, address, and phone number. The easiest way to find your court's contact information is to Google the court listed on your ticket. For example, if your ticket says "CASS COUNTY" on it, you can Google "Cass County municipal court." That should help you find the court's website.
Most courts will list contact information either on the side of the main page, at the bottom, or on a tab labeled "Contact information." If that doesn't help, try looking for a payment link. Many of the courts in Missouri have online payment portals for traffic and parking tickets. These portals also oftentimes list the contact information of the court.
The most valuable resource in your fight against traffic tickets is the WinIt app for smartphones. This app can help you find affordable legal assistance for non-criminal traffic and parking tickets. You can chat directly with support either via email or by phone, pay your ticket through the app, and hire attorneys at the press of a button.
Another helpful resource is Missouri's Case.net software. Case.net can help you find lost tickets or tickets that you didn't even know you had. All you need to do is fill in your information and let the software do its thing.
Despite their differences, both Missouri traffic tickets and parking tickets go through the same court process. Many of the state's 114 counties have set up some kind of traffic and parking violations bureau to handle court processes related to tickets. This is all part of the municipal court system.
The process starts with the ticket. Once you've gotten a traffic ticket, you'll need to know how to read it. That will give you the information you need in order to know how to plead. If you plead guilty, the process ends there. If you plead not guilty, you or your attorney can go to court in hopes of beating the ticket in its entirety.
Missouri traffic tickets aren't like other states. They're much longer and much more detailed than, for example, New York traffic tickets. In fact, they're 10 pages long. While reading this section, be sure to follow along at the following link: Click here to follow along.
This traffic ticket is known as Form 37.A—Uniform Traffic Citation. It is the general traffic citation format that state police officers will use when issuing a ticket. If your ticket is from city police officers, it might look different.
The first page is the most important. It shows your information, the court's information, and the charges against you. You will see at the top a box with a court date. That's when you will be able to appear in court for your hearing. At the top right of the first page is the citation number.
The next few pages further expand on the charges, information about your vehicle, and so on. The most important things for you to notice are the court date, citation number, charges against you, and your personal information.
Once you understand what the ticket means, you'll need to decide how you want to proceed. The next step in the Missouri traffic ticket process is to enter a plea. In many states, there are three traffic ticket plea options: guilty, no contest, and not guilty.
Unfortunately, Missouri courts do not allow no contest pleas. That said, it's possible for Missouri drivers to get a ticket in a state that does allow no contest pleas. For this reason, it is still important to know what they mean and how they might help or hurt your case.
To plead guilty is to accept full responsibility for the violation and admit total guilt. This is the best way to lose your case. If you don't want to fight the ticket and don't mind suffering the consequences, this is the option you might consider taking.
Many people think that the fastest way to get over a ticket is to plead guilty. While there is some truth to that thought, it's also very misleading. Hiring a lawyer to handle your ticket can sometimes be even faster than entering a guilty plea and will often produce significantly better results.
No contest plea options do not exist in Missouri. However, if you are licensed to drive in Missouri and get a ticket in another state, you might be able to plead no contest in that other state.
A no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea in that you are accepting the consequences of the ticket. However, the two plea options differ in that no contest pleas do not involve accepting responsibility for the ticket. Essentially, a no contest plea tells the court, "I didn't do that, but I'm not going to fight you on it."
You will still have to bear the full brunt of the traffic ticket's penalties.
This is the option that has the best possible results. If you want to dismiss your ticket and get away scot free, you will have to plead not guilty. Even if you believe that you are, in fact, guilty of the violation but you have a good reason for doing so, you should plead not guilty. That will enable you to explain your excuse to the judge in hope of them accepting your reason.
If you hire a lawyer to fight your ticket, they will most likely have you plead not guilty. This opens the door to a full dismissal of your ticket. The best lawyers will charge you half of the ticket's fine amount for fighting the ticket. That might seem like a lot, but it's only a tiny fraction of what you would otherwise have to pay were you to be convicted of the ticket.
Plea bargaining is the process of negotiating a guilty plea in exchange for reduced penalties. Let's take speeding as an example. If you were to be given a ticket for speeding 10 miles per hour over the limit, you would be in hot water with the court. However, if you plead not guilty and hire an expert lawyer, you might be able to convince the court to turn that into a non-moving violation.
The end goal of plea bargaining is to plead guilty to a charge with much lower penalties than the original charge. Unfortunately, this new charge will still go on your driving record and can still increase your insurance premiums.
The official website for Missouri's court system explains how the traffic ticket dispute process works from start to finish. Unfortunately, it's hard to understand if you're not a lawyer. Let's break it down for you.
The first step is to enter a plea of not guilty. This opens the door to the traffic and parking ticket dispute process. From there, you'll need to brush up on court procedures. That means dressing in business formal attire, securing legal help, and preparing an argument.
Your argument should be based on the facts of the case, the law, and the reality. That means reading through the ticket, researching the law online, and explaining to the court how you didn't do what the officer says you did. This complex and time-consuming process is why many people prefer to simply hire a lawyer and get it over with.
The process becomes even more complicated when you factor in the differences between minor and major violations.
Minor violations that have no criminal penalties go through traffic court as normal. They come with an optional hearing date. It is considered optional because you have the option of paying your ticket without having to go to court; however, that is the same as pleading guilty.
If you wish to fight your ticket, you will go to court on your hearing date. Then, you will present your argument. Since courts hear dozens of cases each day, you will likely only have a few minutes to argue against seasoned prosecutors or police officers who have been doing this for their entire career.
Major violations that can incur jail time enable you to have a jury trial. This is where criminal defense attorneys come into play. They will help you select a jury, examine witnesses, and dig through the evidence to help you beat your case.
Remember, these are not normal traffic tickets and normal traffic ticket attorneys cannot help you fight them. These are criminal charges and will go through the criminal court process.
Paying a traffic ticket in Missouri is a straightforward process. Enter your information into the WinIt app and we will take care of it for you, provided that this service is available in your county.
If you don't have access to the WinIt app, you can pay Missouri traffic tickets either online, over the phone, or in person. That said, not every county has a functional online payment system. Fortunately, the official Missouri court website has a detailed webpage describing how to go about making traffic ticket payments.
Once you've paid your ticket or gotten your case dismissed, you're done with the traffic ticket process! Keep driving safely, go to traffic school, make sure to follow the rules of the road and you'll be in the clear.
Of course, there's more to the law than just what can fit in this one article. If a picture's worth a thousand words, then this article is worth five pictures—but the law is worth thousands! There are countless lines of text in each law that counties, states, and Congress pass each year. So, it's perfectly natural to have more questions.
Check out the frequently asked questions below to see if somebody else has already asked your question. Or, you can comment a new question below and our team of Missouri traffic ticket experts will get back to you as soon as possible.
Yes. Normal traffic citations for minor violations cannot send you to jail—with a few exceptions. If payment of your traffic ticket is written into the terms of your probation, then you may face jail time for nonpayment.
Yes. Normal speeding tickets typically do not impose jail time. However, more serious speeding violations are considered Class B or Class C misdemeanors. Those misdemeanors can impose up to 6 months or 15 days in jail, respectively.
If you don't pay a Missouri parking ticket, you could face steep late fees and other consequences. Unpaid parking tickets can even reduce your credit score and get your driver license suspended.
Call (573) 526-2407. This phone number will provide you with important information related to traffic tickets, your public record, and so on. It will not provide you with personal information.
Three. You will get up to three points on your driver license for speeding tickets if you violate the state's speeding laws. However, you will only get two points on your license if you violate a county or municipal ordinance.
The easiest way to remove old tickets from your driver license in Missouri is to call (573) 526-2407 and request the removal. You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To plead not guilty, you must go to court on your hearing date and tell the judge that you would like to plead not guilty.
Driver improvement programs (DIPs) are traffic schools. The successful completion of a DIP is treated similarly to the successful completion of another state-approved traffic school program.
Missouri's Case.net software enables you to find that information as well as a long list of other helpful notes.
To dismiss a speeding ticket in Missouri, you must plead not guilty and contest it in court. You will have to go through the traffic court process, present an argument to the judge, and convince them that your ticket does not have the preponderance of evidence.
Three years. Traffic tickets will stay on your record for three years in Missouri. However, suspensions and revocations can stay on your record for up to five years. In either case, getting the ticket dismissed will prevent it from ever going on your record.