What Are Your Options In Missouri?
When you get pulled over for a traffic violation in Missouri you have two options…you can plead guilty or you can plead not guilty. Missouri does not have a “no contest” pleading. Regardless of how you plead, it must be done within 30 days of receiving your ticket. If you happen to lose your citation, you should contact the court in the county where your ticket was issued to see when the deadline is to enter your pleading.
If you decide to challenge your traffic ticket, you must enter a “not guilty” plea. What does a not guilty plea mean? It means that you have a right to challenge a ticket and that you are exercising that right in court. A traffic case is also no different than any other case in that you have a right to fight the ticket yourself or you can hire a traffic attorney. The goal, whether you are challenging the ticket yourself or if you have hired an attorney, is to have the court rule in your favor by either reducing the charges or dismissing the case completely. However, you still may incur court costs and, possibly, legal fees.
The court may also find you guilty. If you are found guilty of your traffic violation, then points will be assessed to your driving record. In Missouri, if you have 8 points on your driving record, your license may get suspended. It is also likely that your car insurance provider will raise your rates if you have points on your license. And, as it was in the case of getting the ticket reduced, you will also likely have to pay court costs and possibly legal fees. Entering a guilty plea forfeits your rights to have a trial in front of a judge. A guilty plea means that you accept that charges that were brought up against you and you understand that you face penalties, such as points on your license, increased insurance rates and the possibility of having your driver’s license suspended.
Regardless of how you plead, your costs to the court will be due within 30 days. If you have gotten a reduced violation due to a recommendation by the prosecutor and you do not submit your payment within 30 days, the original charges will go back to your case. If you allow the date to pass without responding at all, the court may suspend your license and issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
If you have received a traffic ticket and you would like to contact us to help you try to resolve it, please submit the ticket online at our website and we will give you to set up an appointment to speak with one of our specialized traffic attorneys. Alternatively, you can give us a call at 636-916-5400 to see what options you have in regards to your traffic ticket.
Can my prior traffic offenses be used against me?
Whether or not your prior traffic offenses can or will be used against you for a recent offense depends on a number of things. Of course, nofficially, prosecuting attorneys often consider your driving history when offering plea negotiations, but that is something your experienced attorney can work with. Officially, there are certain types of
offenses that are considered “stackable” meaning that if you have been found guilty of that same offense before the prior conviction can be used against you and will likely be used to increase the charges you are facing. For example, as found in more detail in 577.010 and 577.023 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, an individual charged with driving while intoxicated will face different charges, depending on the number of prior driving while intoxicated convictions the individual has, which are listed as follows:
|First Offense||B Misdemeanor|
|Second Offense||A Misdemeanor|
|Third Offense||D Felony|
|Fourth Offense||C Felony|
|Fifth Offense||B Felony|
It is important to know, that for some offenses, like driving while intoxicated, there is no time limitation on when a prior offense can be used. Meaning, if an individual was convicted to, or plead guilty to, driving while intoxicated at any point in their life, even decades ago, that prior offense can be used to up charge the new alleged offense. From a practical stand point, a prosecutor may be less likely to offer a “good deal” if you have prior offenses. Further, with each offense the range of punishment increases. By the third offense you could be sentenced to up to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, commonly referred to as “prison” or “the pen”.
There are a number of special provisions that allow offenses to be upcharged for unrelated offenses also. For example, sticking with the driving while intoxicated example, if an individual has alcohol related priors and a conviction for involuntary manslaughter, second degree murder, second degree assault, or assault of a law enforcement officer, you may face heightened charges. Because each case varies, if any of these apply to you it is imperative that you discuss with your attorney.
Please note, that there are a multitude of other offenses that are stackable, and that driving while intoxicated is simply used here for demonstration purposes. Before paying ANY traffic ticket, you should consult with your attorney to ensure that your rights are being protected. It is important to remember that no matter what law enforcement or a prosecuting attorney says, they are NOT your advocate and are not protecting your interests.
Certain offenses may impact your rights and privileges for the rest of your life. By calling Licker Law Firm you can be certain that you have the best team possible protecting your interests.
Missouri Point System
There are a number of reason to consider hiring an attorney to handle driving offenses, even those that seem like a routine traffic matter. The State of Missouri operates a point based driving system, and much like golf, you want a low “score”. Every driving offense has attached to it a certain number of “points” that will be documented on your driving record. For example, under State Law, most speeding tickets are assessed at three points. That doesn’t seem so bad, until you consider that if you accumulate four or more points with in a twelve month period the Missouri Department of Revenue will send you an advisory letter regarding your accumulation of points.
If you accumulate eight or more points within 18 months the Missouri Department of Revenue will suspend your driving privilege, meaning that just three minor traffic tickets could result in temporary loss of your license. The length of the suspension depends on whether or not you have ever had your license suspended. If this is your first suspension you will be suspended for thirty days; the second suspension you will be suspended for sixty days; and on the third or subsequent you will be suspended for ninety days.
In the event that you accumulate twelve or more points in twelve months, or eighteen or more points within eighteen months, or twenty four or more points in thirty six months you license will be revoked for an entire year. Even after the suspension period the Missouri Department of Revenue only reduces the points on your license to four, meaning you are halfway to another suspension at the outset. Of course, points do not stay on your license forever, and for every year you drive without getting any new points the points on your license are reduced. In the event that your license is suspended you may be required to retest and almost certainly will need to pay fees to get reinstated.
Even if your driving record is not such that you are worried about suspension, there are still a number of concerns. Though after period of three years without additional offense your points will be reduced to zero, many insurance companies will raise your premiums for a period of five or more years following a conviction for a point based offense. Further, even after the points are reduced to zero, the offense remains on your record. Some types of offenses can NEVER be removed from your record. Prosecutors often review driving records and other records for plea negotiations and may take your prior offense into consideration.
By choosing to hire an attorney, you are protecting your driving privileges and finances for years to come. The attorneys at Licker Law Firm and experience and ready to help you!