Speeding tickets are a fact of life in the St. Louis area. On many of the roads around here if you are not doing at least 10 over the limit you are impeding traffic, and it feels like random bad luck who gets pulled over. Compounding that, there are a lot of small municipalities with authority to enforce traffic laws on the sections of interstate that go through their towns and they are not shy about writing tickets. So, most St. Louisans view speeding tickets as an annoyance, especially if they are not a "bad" one like more than 20 over or in a construction zone. You pay your fine, you get some points that don't seem to do anything and you go about your business. That works in some or maybe even many cases. Unfortunately, when that doesn't work, when the points actually do something, the consequences can be more than most drivers anticipate. For example, you could see your car insurance rates go up, you could see consequences at work (particularly if your job involves driving or you have access to a company vehicle) or, most importantly, you could face a drivers license suspension because of point accumulation.
The Point System in Missouri
You would be hard pressed to find someone who is not a traffic attorney and can explain exactly how the point system works. This leads to a certain level of complacency regarding speeding tickets. Most people think you have to catch a lot of tickets in a short period of time for the consequences to kick in, but that is just not true. Here are the basics:
If you get 4 points in a 12 month period the Department of Revenue will send you a point accumulation advisory letter. No real consequences attach; this is just a warning.
If you get 8 or more points in an 18 month period the Department of Revenue will suspend your license. The first time this happens it will be for 30 days, the second time 60 and for the 3rd, and each time after that, 90 days.
If you get 12 points in 12 months, 18 in 24 or 24 points in 36 months you will get a 1 year revocation of your license.
As we will see below, it is possible to accumulate 8 points with 2 tickets. That means that if you get a ticket, pay the fine and accept the points you need to be certain that you are not going to get another ticket for a year and a half. Not so easy to do.
The number of points assessed for each violation is listed in the charmingly titled Missouri Driver Record Traffic Violation Descriptions and Points Assessed Form 899. A speeding ticket more than 5 mph over the posted limit is 2 or 3 points. It is 2 points if it is a violation of a municipal or county ordinance and 3 if it is a violation of state law. In other words, if you get your ticket from a state trooper, it will usually be adjudicated in a state court and be 3 points and if you get it from a county deputy or municipal officer and it is sent to the municipal court it is 2 points. Complicating matters further, some smaller counties send their tickets to the state court because they do not have a dedicated traffic court, and if those tickets are filed under state law, they are also 3 points.
In addition to speeding, over 100 other offenses that can result in points are listed, from vehicular homicide to obstructed view. Multiple offenses can be committed at once and if the officer writes a separate ticket for each offense they can each carry points. For instance, if you are speeding and fail to signal a lane change the speeding can be 3 points and the improper lane change will be 2. If you combine that with a prior 3 point speeding ticket in the last 18 months you now have a 30 day suspension. If you go to court, plead guilty and pay the fine no one is going to warn you that you are at risk of a suspension. It is likely that the first you will hear about it is when the Department of Revenue sends you a notice that you are suspended. Obviously, it is very important to keep points off your record. This is where Traffic Attorney Ruth Beerup can help.
How Can A Traffic Attorney Help?
Any good Missouri traffic law attorney will tell you that the most important consideration when dealing with a speeding ticket is keeping the points off your record. There will be fines associated with any speeding ticket, but there is not much an attorney can do about those. In fact, many times the trade-off is higher fines in exchange for no points. The reason an experienced traffic lawyer will make this trade is because they routinely talk to people who have pleaded guilty, paid the fines and accepted the points on tickets and are now facing an unexpected license suspension. To most people, the loss of their drivers' license is an unacceptable burden that they are willing to pay higher fines to avoid.
The best way to not face a license suspension is to call an experienced traffic lawyer like Ruth Beerup every time you get a speeding ticket. She makes it extremely easy. When you give her a call, she will ask you a few questions about your ticket. Then, if you hire her, she will handle everything from there. With most tickets, you will not have to go to court. She will enter an appearance and let the court know that she is representing you. She will then negotiate with the prosecutor to reach an agreement that will keep points off your record. Usually this involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge like defective equipment or a parking violation. Ruth will then mail you a copy of the recommendation and call you to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the recommendation means. Once you agree to the proposed outcome Ruth will mail you a form with the results and instructions on how to pay the associated fines (usually online, sometimes through the mail). That's it!
What About More Serious Speeding Tickets?
If you have a ticket for speeds more than 20 over the posted limit or involving elements such as in a construction zone or careless and imprudent, the process of fixing the ticket starts the same. Give traffic lawyer Ruth Beerup a call. She will discuss the issue with you to make sure you understand your options and, if you decide to hire her, she will let the court know that she is representing you. She will then negotiate with the prosecutor to get a recommendation for an amendment to the ticket. This is where things differ from the standard speeding ticket. Most prosecutors are reluctant to change a high speed ticket to a no point violation without additional stipulations. Most often this involves going to a driving school or even community service. This is not the orange vest picking up trash on the side of the road kind of community service. There are a wide variety of options to choose from like volunteering at an animal shelter or helping the elderly with an approved non-profit organization; most people can find an option that is agreeable. It should be noted that, unlike standard speeding, these types of tickets sometimes require that you appear in court with Ruth for the final disposition.
In more extreme cases a prosecutor may recommend jail time. This usually happens when the speed is over 100 as that is a number that seems to grab their attention. If you have already made contact with the courts and they have told you that jail time is a possibility, don't panic. Ruth can negotiate on your behalf to avoid this outcome. The above options, driving school and community service, are on the table and probation is also possible. Like the community service, this is a different kind of probation than you might be thinking of. You usually won't have to report to a probation office, get drug tested or make decisions based on if your probation allows you to do certain things. It is more like a period of time where you are proving to the court that you are not a problem driver. Think of it as a second chance.
Traffic law attorney Ruth Beerup is an experienced St. Charles lawyer who has handled speeding tickets just like yours in every jurisdiction in the St. Louis area over her 25 year career. Whether you are facing jail time, the serious repercussions of a license suspension or 2 points on your driving record Ruth knows your problem is important to you, and that makes it important to her. She has been able to use her experience to develop knowledge and strategies that make her convenient, affordable and effective and she will use that experience to make sure you get the best outcome possible.