It is illegal to drive an automobile in the state of Missouri without liability insurance. Not only that, but a driver must be able to provide proof of insurance to any law enforcement officer who requests it. This is sometimes referred to as duty to maintain financial responsibility. Most of the time when a traffic lawyer sees a no insurance ticket it is with another ticket, often speeding. This is because a police officer needs a reason to make a traffic stop; they cannot pull drivers over at random to make sure their insurance is up to date. If you have multiple tickets, you need to contact an experienced traffic attorney like Ruth Beerup to protect your driving record.
How Much Does a No Insurance Ticket Cost?
The fines and punishment associated with a no insurance ticket are one thing if you had insurance at the time but couldn't show proof and another if you were actually driving without insurance. If you misplaced your card or couldn't access your information on your phone but were insured, you might be able to clear things up on your own. Generally, if you provide the court with proof that you were insured at the time of the ticket it will be dismissed. The procedure for doing this varies from court to court. Some allow you to work with the clerks to take care of it at any time, others require an in-person appearance on the court date. You can call the court to see what you need to do, or you can hire a traffic lawyer for a nominal fee if you don't want to deal with it yourself.
If you did not actually have insurance at the time the ticket was written, the outcome is very different. The first offense is a class D misdemeanor punishable by a fine. The uniform schedule for St. Louis County municipalities indicates a $175 fine, and most surrounding jurisdictions are between that and $225. The fine is at the discretion of the judge, however, and can be up to $500. Second and subsequent offenses can be punished by up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500. Now, it is highly unlikely that you would be sent to jail for a no insurance ticket, but you should be aware that if you are pleading guilty to a second offense you are technically putting yourself in a position where a judge can take your freedom for something that is easily avoidable.
Supervision, Suspension or Points
In addition to those punishments, Mo. Rev. Sta. § 303.025 requires that one of the following three punishments be applied: an order of supervision, an order of suspension or 4 points on your driving record.
An order of supervision can only be applied once per 36 month period. The court will send the order to the Missouri Department of Revenue and they will monitor to make sure that automobile liability insurance is being maintained. No points will be added to your record and no additional fines will be levied.
An order of suspension is an actual suspension of your driver's license. The first time this happens the suspension period is 0 days, but you must show proof of insurance and pay a $20 reinstatement fee to get your license back. On the second occurance your license will be suspended for 90 days and you must show proof of insurance and pay a $200 reinstatement fee. The third and subsequent suspensions are for 1 year and the fee for reinstatement is $400, along with proof of insurance. After any order of suspension you must maintain liability insurance and report it to the Department of Revenue for 36 months. Any lapse will result in a renewal of the suspension for the remainder of the three years unless you refile proof of insurance.
An order for 4 points added to your driving record can put you in a bad situation. As mentioned above, tickets for no insurance often come with another ticket. These tickets, like speeding or illegal lane change, are 2 points under the Missouri point system. If you plead guilty to both you will have 6 points on your record. That means that if you have any other tickets from the past 18 months or get any in the next 18 months your license will be suspended because the limit is 8 points in an 18 month period. Additionally, a no insurance ticket can not be removed from your driving record. So, the consequences of a guilty plea on a no insurance ticket can be severe.
Can I Get a No Insurance Ticket Dismissed?
That depends on what kind of no insurance ticket you have. If you were insured at the time, yes. You or your lawyer can contact the court to have the ticket dismissed with court costs. As a matter of fact, the statute specifically says that any person who can show that they were insured at the time the officer wrote the citation shall not be found guilty of violating the statute. In other words, the court cannot legally find you guilty just because you misplaced your insurance card.
If you did not have insurance at the time the ticket was issued, it is very difficult to get dismissed. Your first priority should be to make sure you have insurance before your court date. Next, you need to hire an experienced traffic attorney. These two actions will show the court that you are taking the issue seriously. In reality, they do not want to punish people for no insurance tickets; they just want to make sure every driver is insured. Even if you take both these actions it is unlikely that your ticket will be dismissed. The most likely outcome is that your attorney will be able to negotiate to make the ticket a non-moving no point violation. This will not go on your record and, most importantly, avoids the consequences detailed above. Often when you have suspensions, guilty pleas and points on your driving record it is hard to get things right again. If you have a no insurance ticket in St. Charles County, St. Louis County or the surrounding areas, give attorney Ruth Beerup a call. In her 25 years of practicing traffic law she has helped many people just like you.