Missouri bills reduce certain violations, set new rules
December 23, 2019
State lawmakers in Missouri preparing for the upcoming regular session are filing bills to change driver violations and impose new driving rules.
Currently, a class C misdemeanor in Missouri can result in penalties of up to 15 days behind bars and fines up to $750. Infractions can result in $200 fines.
Sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, SB687 would reduce to infractions multiple violations that now are classified as a class C misdemeanor, or unspecified misdemeanor.
Among the violations that would be affected:
- Operating a vehicle at such a slow speed that it impedes traffic;
- Operating a vehicle at a speed below 40 mph on an interstate;
- Failure to park or drive on the right-hand side of a road or highway;
- Following behind another vehicle closer than is reasonably safe and prudent;
Failure of certain vehicles, trucks, or buses to stop at a railroad crossing as required by law;
- Any bus or truck following within 300 feet of another such vehicle; and
- Overtaking or passing another vehicle within an active emergency zone.
Additionally, multiple violations that are categorized as class B misdemeanors would be reduced to class C misdemeanors. Class B misdemeanors now result in a maximum of six months behind bars and fines of up to $1,000.
Transportation of hazardous materials through a highway tunnel that is at least 100 yards in length, or parking a vehicle hauling hazmat within 300 feet of a highway tunnel would be re-categorized as class C misdemeanors.
Exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 20 mph would also become a class C misdemeanor.
Missouri is one of only three states across the country where text messaging while behind the wheel is not specifically prohibited for most drivers.
Two House bills would remove the Show-Me State from the list that includes Arizona and Montana.
Missouri law now specifies that drivers 21 and under are forbidden to text while driving. Violators face $200 fines and two points deducted from their driver’s licenses.
Advocates say it is past time to apply the ban to all drivers. They cite Missouri Department of Transportation figures that show a nearly 35% increase in cellphone related crashes in recent years.
Multiple bills filed for consideration cover requirements for new drivers.
Sponsored by Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, HB1506 would require prospective drivers 18 or younger to complete a driver’s education program.
The program must be approved by the state Highways and Transportation Commission. Additionally, a “Driver’s Education Training Fund” would be created to fund education contracts.
Voters would be responsible for passing a constitutional amendment to authorize fees for the fund. Specifically, a $1 licensing fee for motor vehicles, trailers, issuance and renewal of driver’s licenses, and other motor vehicles would be collected.
A related bill covers how to properly interact with police during a traffic stop.
Sponsored by Rep. Gretchen Bangert, D-Florissant, HB1264 would require driver’s education programs to incorporate information about traffic stops into the curriculum. Driving examiners would also be responsible for providing information during the skills portion of the exam.
All bills can be considered during the regular session that begins Jan. 8.
More Land Line coverage of news from Missouri is available.