There are several ways that a driver’s license can be suspended or revoked. The primary reason is a result of points being assessed against your driver’s license due to traffic violations such as speeding, driving without insurance, stoplight/stop sign violations. Essentially, any moving violation results in points being assessed against your driver’s license. The number of points assessed against a driver’s license in Missouri is set out in section 302.302 of the “Revised Statutes of Missouri.” This can be found at “www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/statutes.”
Point Accumulation: The first threshold is that, if you accumulate 18 points within an 18 month period, the State will suspend your driver’s license, for a first time, for 30 days. The period of suspension increases depending on the number of points accumulated over a period of time and depending on how many previous license actions (suspensions/revocations) you have had in the past. Missouri also has a program where the judge in a particular case can allow an individual to attend a driving school that will result in points not being assessed against your license. Judges don’t usually volunteer this information. But, if an individual is going to appear in Court and pay the ticket, you can ask the judge for permission to attend the school in lieu of the points.
DWI Laws: In 2010, Missouri enhanced the “driving while intoxicated” laws. The consequences of receiving a “driving while intoxicated” conviction is much more severe than it was prior to August, 2010. Some courts are now required to sentence a defendant to incarceration based on the blood alcohol content (BAC). There are enhanced periods of loss of driver’s license and there are other severe consequences. Certainly, if you receive a “driving while intoxicated” charge, you should contact an attorney immediately as there are time limitations which also affect your ability to keep your license or at least extend the time until your suspension takes effect.
Driving without Insurance: Most people think that if you get a traffic ticket for “driving without insurance,” there are no consequences to pleading guilty. However, if you are convicted of driving without insurance, then the State of Missouri requires a 30-day suspension of your driver’s license. Most judges will warn a defendant that they should consult with an attorney before pleading guilty to this specific charge. If you had insurance at the time of the stop, and can show proof to the Court, then those cases should typically be dismissed by the Judge. In many of the smaller municipal courts if you show proof of insurance at the time of the stop to the Court Clerk, they can handle getting the case dismissed.
Hardship Driver’s license: Hardship driver’s license laws also changed several years ago. The Missouri legislature increased the types of convictions that prohibit an individual from receiving a hardship driver’s license. Most people think they are entitled to a hardship license if their license is suspended. Over the years, the legislature has expanded the types of offenses that will result in a prohibition of the issuance of a hardship license. In some circumstances the Court can require an “ignition interlock” device installed on any vehicle you drive.
Interstate Compact: Another pitfall is that most people don’t realize a conviction for a traffic offense out of State of Missouri will typically be reported back to Missouri and will adversely affect your driver’s license. Missouri is a member of a “Compact” that allows convictions to travel from state to state. Multiple convictions in another state can also result in a suspension/revocation of the right to drive in that state even if you are licensed in Missouri. Remember, the convictions in the other state will typically be reported to Missouri and will show up on your driving record here.
I always advise my clients to contact their insurance agent when they receive a speeding ticket or any other point violation and find out from the agent if their insurance rates will increase. Typically, the insurance rates will increase if you have a moving violation. In most cases, it is less expensive in the end to hire an attorney to have the ticket pled to a lesser offense that will not show up on the driving record.
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COMMERCIAL DRIVERS LICENSE
Some drivers are required under Missouri law to have a “Commercial Driver’s License” if driving a commercial vehicle for a living. The effect on a commercial driver’s license for getting a traffic ticket is typically greater and more severe. Section 302.756 or the Revised Statutes of Missouri sets out the penalties assessed against a commercial licensed driver for various types of convictions. This can be found on the internet at www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/statutes. The bottom line is that if you have a commercial driver’s license, you need to be very careful with the disposition of a ticket.