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What Are Missouri Traffic Court Records?
Missouri traffic records represent all legal documents and case files generated as the report of events of traffic courts in the state of Missouri. They can come to include records created, related to civil and criminal violations and moving/non-moving violations under the motor vehicle code of Missouri.
Are Missouri Traffic Court Records Public Records?
Similar to all types of court records, traffic court records are earmarked as public records and are available to members of the public, under the public access to information law. Consequently, any member of the public can request to view all traffic records, with the exception of records that have been restricted by a court order.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Missouri
A traffic ticket or Uniform Citation is a computer-generated document that is issued by a law enforcement officer for traffic violations in Missouri. The ticket is representative of a sworn statement by the officer regarding their observations of the violation. The citation will have copies for all stakeholders, but the violator will receive only one. The citation will be filled in by the officer and contain the bio-data of the violator including full name, date of birth, address, height, weight, and other relevant information. It will include details about the violator's license and information about the vehicle involved in the violation. The citation will include the name and location of the court where appearance should be made with a date and time. Brief details on the offense observed with supporting facts, as noted by the officer, will also be included. The statute or ordinance violated with charge code will also be noted on the citation, with location, time and date of the violation. Fine amounts to paid (if pleading guilty) may be shown on the ticket and if not you will need to contact the listed court. You are required to sign the ticket as an acknowledgment of receipt of citations and a promise to dispose of the charges.
Traffic citations come with penalties consisting of fines and points assessed on your driving record, and can also come to include added costs and even jail time. Missouri utilizes a points-based system for traffic violations and accumulating a certain number of points results in different punishments. 4 points in 12 months will result in a warning letter, 8 points within 18 months will lead to license suspension and 12 points in 12 months, 18 points in 24 months or 24 points in 36 months, all result in revocation of license. Points can remain on the driver's record for at least 3 years but if no new points are accumulated, total points record are reduced by one-third after 12 months, one-half after 2 years and to zero after 3 years. Failure to pay the fine before or on the court date could lead to an arrest warrant being issued.
Traffic violations are generally divided into moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations are traffic laws offenses perpetrated a vehicle in motion and can come to include misdemeanors and felonies, depending on the circumstances. Non-moving violations generally occur when a vehicle is parked or caused by faulty or broken vehicle equipment. Vehicles in motion can be cited for Non-moving violations but such violations will be differentiated by their treatment in the courts. Non-moving violations are not reported to the Missouri Department of Revenue and do not show up on your driving record.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Missouri?
If you get traffic citation in Missouri, you are expected to either
- Pay the Fine
- Contest the ticket
A response must be made to the citation before or on the scheduled court date by entering one of the above actions, or you will run the risk of a license suspension and even a warrant being issued for your arrest.
What happens if I decide to pay a Missouri Traffic Fine?
If you decide to pay the fine and move on, you are entering a GUILTY plea to a Missouri state traffic ticket. This indicates your acceptance of the charges against you, and agreement to all imposed fines, fees, and penalties. Points will be added to your Missouri driver’s record. You also consent to give up your right to contest the ticket in court.
If you are not mandated to make a court appearance, you can pay the fines before your court date but must do so by then. Payment can be made on the court's website or by mail, by signing the appearance, plea of guilty and waiver that appears on the ticket and sending, to the listed court, with the full amount (do not send cash). You can also pay the fine by appearing in person at the court clerk’s office. Different courts may prefer different forms of payment, so verify payment procedures with the court before making payment.
If you are expected to appear in court, you must show up on your court date to enter your GUILTY plea and thereafter the judge will assess fines and any other costs at that juncture. Drivers’ record points are applicable.
It is also possible (if you are deemed eligible to enroll in a Drivers Improvement Program after your guilty plea and if completed within 60 days, no points shall be assessed on your record. If you decide to contest the ticket, then you must appear on the scheduled court date to enter a NOT GUILTY plea which signifies your request for a hearing to decide your case. You must be prepared and should consider professional representation.
You must appear on your scheduled court date and time at the listed court to enter your plea. After which a trial date will be scheduled. You must appear on the trial date or you will run the risk of a verdict being entered in your absence which will most certainly be a guilty verdict. If this occurs you will be held liable for fines and additional court charges and will have points added to your driver’s record.
What happens if a Traffic Court finds a driver not Guilty?
If you are found not to be guilty by the court, then all charges are dismissed and you are freed of fines and penalties but will still be liable for court costs.
If you are found to be guilty of the charges, then you will be assessed for fines and any added penalties deemed by the court. Driver points will be added to your record and you will still be liable for court courts.
How Do I find Missouri Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records are usually available on the website of the court where the records are stored and you may be able to request the records online by filling the requisite form. Alternatively, you can visit the Violations Bureau of the court in person and make your request. There is also the option of requesting by telephone or fax. Court charges will apply if copies of the record are required and the release of court records is subject to verification of identity. Traffic records may also be found on third party websites such as courtrecords.org. Records deemed as confidential (non-public) by Missouri state law will only be available
- To the defendant
- To the attorney of record in the case
- Under exceptions, authorized by law or court order.
- With a signed, notarized release from the defendant
Publicly available records are also accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
What information is required to obtain Missouri Traffic Court Records?
To receive Traffic records, you will need to provide information about the record being requested including full name (as it appears on the record), date of birth and the case number. The requester will be required to provide information including full name, agency or business, address, telephone and a valid form of identification. There might be court fees, depending on the purview of the request, which must be paid prior to the release of records. It will take about 3 business days to receive a response and possibly longer to receive records.
Are all Traffic Violations handled the same way, in Missouri?
Traffic violations are handled in mostly the same manner in Missouri, irrespective of the offense or violation committed. Fines and license points will differ as these are based on the severity of the violation, but the procedures for handling a traffic violation will be the same. Court proceedings may vary if the violation is viewed to be criminal i.e. a misdemeanor or felony violation.
Can Missouri Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
In 2018, a new expungement law came into effect in Missouri, which allows for the expungement or closure of arrest and conviction records for certain misdemeanors and felonies. You must wait 7 years to apply to have felony convictions expunged and 3 years for arrest records and misdemeanor convictions.
Traffic records may be eligible for expungement, if you were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor traffic offense and the charges were dropped or dismissed at trial. Traffic offenses are not eligible for expungement if:
- You were intoxicated at the time of the arrest. DWIs are not eligible for expungement in Missouri.
- You hold a commercial driver’s license and were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest.
- You have another misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record.
- There is pending civil action related to the record you want to be expunged.
How does one end up in a Missouri Traffic court?
A person can end up in a Missouri traffic court if the person receives a citation from a law enforcement officer, issued for a traffic violation and the person wishes to contest the ticket. The person will need to appear in court on the scheduled date and time to enter a plea and request a hearing.
You also end up in traffic court if you are issued a citation by a law enforcement officer and it is indicated on the ticket that a court appearance is mandatory. This applies to more serious traffic violations.
Which Courts in Missouri have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
Missouri traffic violations are heard either in state county, county court or city/municipal court. The location of the alleged traffic violation tends to decide where your case will be heard, so if you were issued a ticket by a state trooper or highway patrol officer, your case will most likely be heard in state court.