If you get pulled over without insurance, the officer will issue a citation for failure to maintain financial responsibility per RSMo 303.025. The citation (ticket) will have a court date on it. You will have an opportunity to hire a lawyer to appear for you, and they will probably be able to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a non-moving violation like parking, or you can appear in court to plead your case.
If you decide to go to court on your own, you will probably be found guilty unless you can prove that you actually had insurance on the day of the ticket but just couldn't find it to show to the officer. The duty to maintain financial responsibility is a strict liability statute meaning that you will be found guilty if you cannot show that you had insurance on that day. Excuses like “I thought I had it, but it lapsed last week” or “I had it but forgot to send in the check this month” won't carry any weight.
A conviction for driving without insurance results in two punishments at the same time. The first punishment is for a misdemeanor conviction. If you have no prior convictions for no insurance, it is punishable by a fine. The fine can be up to $500 but is more often around $200. If you have a prior conviction for no insurance, it is punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
In addition to the punishment for the conviction, the court is required by statute to notify the Department of Revenue and do one of the following:
- Enter an order of suspension
- Forward a record of conviction for point assessment or
- Enter an order of supervision
Order of Suspension
The length of the suspension for driving without insurance varies based on prior offenses. For a first offense, the suspension lasts only until you file proof of insurance with the director of the Missouri Department of Revenue and pay a $20 reinstatement fee. If you have one prior offense in the preceding two years, you will face a 90-day suspension, a $200 reinstatement fee, and need to submit proof of insurance. Third and subsequent offenses will result in a one-year revocation, a $400 reinstatement fee, and a requirement to show proof of insurance.
Proof of insurance must be maintained with the Department of Revenue for three years upon an order of suspension. Any lapse in insurance coverage will cause the suspension or revocation to be reimposed. There is no requirement for SR-22 or any other kind of special insurance unless there was an accident involved.
If the court forwards a record of conviction to the Director of Revenue, you will have 4 points added to your Missouri Driver Record. If you get 8 or more points over an 18 month period your license will be suspended. It is very easy to get a point suspension if you have a no insurance conviction with points assessed, particularly if you got another ticket when you got the no insurance ticket.
A point suspension is often the start of a downward spiral that is hard to get out of. Most people find it very inconvenient to stop driving and end up with a driving while suspended charge. These charges are more difficult and expensive to fix.
Order of Supervision
The third option a court has upon a conviction for driving with insurance is to enter an order of supervision. This order keeps points from being added to your driver's record. Additionally, the Department of Revenue will not release the record of the conviction under an order of supervision to any outside source, so your insurance company or employers will not be able to see it. You are limited to one order of supervision per 36 month period.
How Can a Traffic Lawyer Help With a No Insurance Ticket?
A good traffic lawyer can probably get your no insurance ticket dismissed or reduced to a non-moving violation that does not put points on your record. There will be a fine, possibly a little higher than what you would pay with a conviction, but this is usually an acceptable trade-off for most people.
Unlike most traffic violations, no insurance tickets have increased punishments if you have prior convictions. A second conviction can put you at risk of jail time. Additionally, it is possible to get a 90-day suspension for a second offense and a 1-year revocation for a third.
If you have a no insurance ticket, or any other criminal or traffic matters, give Attorney Ruth Beerup a call at 636-940-1111. She has over 25 years of experience dealing with issues just like yours. She can go to court for you and keep you on the road. Consultations are always free, and she will be more than happy to explain the process and solve your problems for you.