According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), there were 162,626 moving violations across the state in Fiscal Year 2019, with another 156,626 drivers receiving warnings. These statistics include arrests for lacking proof of insurance, seatbelt and child restraint violations, and other non-moving-vehicle violations.
Traffic violations come in two types: moving violations, which occur while the vehicle is in operation on a street or highway, and non-moving violations, which generally involve parking and mechanical violations, such as faulty tail lights or loud mufflers. Non-moving violations for mechanical problems and other issues can be given while the vehicle is in operation.
Of the two, moving violations are often more expensive in terms of fines and suspension/revocation of driving privileges — and in what they do to your insurance rates. Each moving violation adds points to your driving record, which can trigger results that can make owning and driving a vehicle more difficult.
If you’ve received a traffic violation in Thayer, Missouri, or in West Plains, the Ozarks, or anywhere in North Central Arkansas, call me immediately at The Law Office of Fred O’Neill.
While it may make little sense to fight a parking ticket, moving violations — especially if you’ve had more than one violation in the past three years — can be costly and restrict your driving privileges. I will fight for the best available outcome, whether it’s a fine reduction, agreeing to a lesser traffic offense, or perhaps even getting the charge dropped entirely.
The more common non-moving violations aren’t going to bankrupt you or get your license suspended, but if drugs or open containers of alcohol are found in your vehicle — even if it isn’t moving — the violations can become more serious.
Here are some common non-moving violations (which can occur in some cases while the vehicle is being operated):
Parking in a no-parking zone
Parking too close to a fire hydrant
Excessive muffler noise
Music blaring too loudly
License plates not displayed properly
Expired license plates
Non-use of seat bells
Littering from a moving vehicle
An open container of alcohol in the vehicle or in possession of a passenger
Moving violations usually result in more serious fines and more points being added to your driving record. As points build up, you can face suspension and even permanent revocation of your driver’s license, to say nothing of what will happen to your insurance premiums. Common moving violations include:
Running a red light
Failure to stay in one lane
Failure to yield right of way
Following too closely
Not carrying adequate insurance
Expired driver’s license
Driving without a license, or a suspended license
Fines can vary whether you’re cited by a highway patrol officer or by municipal or county police, as different jurisdictions can levy fines differently. According to the State of Missouri Fine Collection Center, fines for speeding can range from $73 for driving 1-5 MPH over the limit, up to $208 for 20-25 MPH over the limit. These fines increase dramatically if the violation occurs in a construction zone or in a work zone with workers present.
Other fines include:
$73 for no child safety restraint or booster seat
$83 for failure to display license plates
$83 for running a red light
$133-$183 for defective equipment or mechanical problems
In addition to fines associated with moving violations, points are placed on your driving record kept by the Missouri Department of Revenue. A speeding ticket can get you three points, running a red light and most other moving violations results in two points, but the topper is driving with a suspended license — a whopping 12 points.
Remember that fines and points are determined by whether you break a state law or a county or municipal ordinance, as both fines and points can vary a bit depending on who stops you and where.
The points are used by your insurance company to help determine your annual premium, but on top of that, the Missouri Department of Revenue can suspend or revoke your license if you accumulate too many points. For instance, eight points within 18 months can result in a suspension of 30 days. Even worse, 12 points in 12 months can earn you a one-year license revocation, as can 18 points in 24 months and 24 points in 36 months.
To challenge a traffic violation, you’re going to have to go to court. If you pay online, in person, or by mail, that’s the equivalent of pleading guilty.
If you go before a judge to contest your ticket, your basic defense is to challenge the officer’s judgment and evaluation of what happened. Say you’re cited for running a red light when, in your assessment, the light turned yellow just as you reached it, so it was safer to keep going. You can argue that and challenge the officer’s judgment.
If it comes to speeding, you can argue that the speed gun was not calibrated correctly, or that the officer mistook your vehicle for another one that he clocked for speed. You can also argue that, though you were driving slightly over the speed limit, it was still safe. Say you’re cited for 35 in a 25. You can argue that the road conditions were safe, there was little or no other traffic or pedestrians, and your speed was safe.
Needless to say, you don’t really want to go before a judge and argue that the officer who cited you lacks judgment or was somehow out to get you. You will need the help of a skilled defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of courtroom proceedings, even in matters as seemingly mundane as traffic violations.
Call me at The Law Office of Fred O’Neill when you face a traffic citation that may result in fines, suspensions, or other consequences. I have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of my clients, and I would be proud to fight for yours too. I serve clients throughout Thayer, Missouri, West Plains, and The Ozarks, as well as across North Central Arkansas — so call today for help!