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No Jail for Speeding

September 09, 1995
By: ELISA CROUCH
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri motorists no longer need to worry about going to jail for speeding, thanks to a new law that makes breaking the speed limit an infraction rather than a misdemeanor offense.

Previously, speeding in Missouri was a Class A misdemeanor. Offenders faced a maximum fine of $1000 and up to one year in jail.

Now, a speeding violation carries the same consequences as a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. The maximum fine is $200 - and no time in jail.

The new law was passed by the General Assembly passed during the 1995 legislative session.

"I don't think speeding should be a misdemeanor," said Sen. Danny Staples, D-Eminence, who voted in favor of the legislation. "I think as long as you pay the fine, that's all you need to do."

Ron Beck, assistant director of the Missouri Highway Patrol's communications office, warned that the new speeding law doesn't effect municipalities. Speeding in a town or city still carries the same consequences as before, depending on municipal laws, he said.

With a reduced penalty, Beck said he hopes motorists continue to take speeding as an offense that could have serious consequences.

"As a department responsible for keeping the highways safe, we're concerned that if motorists take speeding lightly, and if speeding increases, so will injuries and fatalities," Beck said.

But Rich Callahan, Cole County's prosecuting attorney, said that the class of offense that speeding falls under isn't necessarily the deterring factor.

"The deterrent in the system against speeding is the point system," Callahan said. "I don't think most Missourians realized that a jail sentence was a possibility."

Under Missouri's point system, breaking a state speeding law results in three points toward suspension of the offender's driver's license. A violation against a county or municipal speeding law is two points.