Is It Worth It to Fight a Traffic Violation?
May 16, 2023
Few people make it through life without getting some sort of ticket for an alleged traffic violation. Speeding, a tail light that doesn’t work, and rolling through a stop sign are a few common ones. Perhaps because some violations are so common, some people think they should just pay the ticket and move on.
If you are asking yourself, “Should I fight my traffic violation?” the answer is yes. While a guilty plea will not give a criminal record, it will cost you in other ways. Over time, the price for a traffic violation in Missouri could get high.
As a criminal defense lawyer at Walker Law LLC, I am ready to fight for my clients facing traffic tickets. A finding of not guilty or a reduction in the violation is worth the fight. If you have been ticketed for a traffic violation in Chesterfield, Missouri, Town and Country, Cottleville, or anywhere in St. Charles and St. Louis counties, I am in your corner.
How Does Missouri’s Point System Work?
The Missouri Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) works on a point system where the highest amount of points results in greater consequences.
The Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) assigns a certain number of points ranging from two to 12 for specific traffic violations. The more serious the offense, the higher the number of points it is assigned. For example, a conviction for aggravated endangerment of a highway worker is a 12-point offense. A conviction for failing to dim your headlights is a two-point offense.
Points may differ depending on whether you violate a state, county, or municipal ordinance. The state assesses the highest number of points. Where there is no specific county or municipal ordinance, the ticket will be written as a violation of state law.
You may think that three points for a speeding conviction are nothing to worry about, but it is the accumulation of points within a period of time that makes it extremely worrisome. If you get four points during an eight-month period, you will receive a warning letter from the DOR. Eight or more points within an 18-month period and your driver’s license will be suspended.
The first time your driving privileges are suspended, it is for 30 days. A second suspension will be 60 days, and a third for 90 days. However, if you are assessed 12 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months, or 24 points in 36 months, you will lose your license for a year.
How Long Do Points Stay on My Missouri Driver’s License?
Points remain on your driver’s license for three years. If you are ticketed for exceeding the posted speed limit by more than five miles per hour, it will appear for that long. However, if you go for one year without accumulating any more points, the number assessed against your license drops by one-third. Go two years without any, and the number drops by half. Three years clean will result in the removal of all points.
Although the points eventually go away, some convictions remain on your driving record permanently, such as driving under the influence (DUI) and driving without insurance.
Moreover, if you are convicted of another violation at the same time, that offense also remains permanently on your record. For example, if you are convicted for both a first DUI and failure to provide proof of insurance, both stay on your record, even after the points go away.
The number of points, the frequency of accumulation, and the gravity of the violation are all factors in the severity of the consequences you will face. It may all begin with a single traffic violation, but you may end up facing serious penalties.
What Potential Penalties Might I Face?
Penalties for a traffic ticket depend on the type of violation you are accused of committing. In addition to having your license revoked or suspended, you will also pay court costs and fines. You may be ordered to successfully complete a driver safety course or drug or alcohol counseling. If convicted of DUI, you may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and pay for the device, its maintenance, and reporting.
The cost of auto insurance could become out of reach. Points on your driver’s license are indicators of risk to insurers. The higher the risk, the higher the premiums you will be forced to pay. Of course, in Missouri, auto owners are required to carry at least minimum limits of liability coverage, so you cannot drive without insurance. Moreover, if you are convicted of a DUI, you will be required to pay for special high-risk insurance.
With so much at stake, aren’t Missouri traffic violations worth fighting? Of course, they are. As with anything else, you are innocent until proven guilty. Having your day in court may result in a dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict from the judge, or a reduction in the charge to one with fewer points attached to it.
What Are Some Defenses I Can Use?
The defenses for a traffic ticket your attorney may use in your case will depend on the violations you have been cited for. However, the burden of proof of guilt is always on the shoulders of the prosecuting attorney and the law enforcement officer who wrote the ticket. You may be surprised at how many times the officer does not show up to testify or does not provide testimony that convinces the judge of guilt.
Common defenses include emergencies or lack of posted speed limits if you were cited for speeding. Your attorney may be able to challenge the accuracy of speed guns and traffic cameras. Perhaps you failed to show proof of valid insurance coverage because you never received an updated card. Your attorney can challenge law enforcement and witness statements regarding an alleged violation as a case of mistaken identity of you and your vehicle.
Fight for Your Rights
Fighting a traffic violation may not seem worth the time and expense until it is. Four speeding tickets in a year and a half may not seem serious until you lose your license for 30 days. Paying some serious consequences does not take as much as you may think.
If you have been cited for a traffic violation in Chesterfield, Missouri, or anywhere in St. Charles or St. Louis County, don’t risk those consequences. Call Walker Law LLC now. I will make it worth your while.