Missouri bill would limit fines in ‘quiet’ construction zones

| 12/22/2009

If a Missouri state lawmaker gets his way, law enforcement wouldn’t be able to sting motorists as badly while they cruise through quiet construction zones.

Rep. Joe Smith, R-St. Charles, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the upcoming regular session that would prohibit police from handing out pricey speeding tickets in construction zones when workers aren’t on the job.

Existing Missouri law authorizes speeding fines in construction zones to be as much as triple the regular amount.

Smith said local police in certain instances are abusing their authority in issuing the expensive citations at times when it is obvious no construction work is taking place.

“All these small cities and towns are going on major highways. They have cops setting up at 3 o’clock in the morning when people are going the set speed limit,” Smith told Land Line. “They’re giving tickets for speeding through a construction zone, which sometimes is a triple fine.”

The reason that police in a lot of small towns and cities do it is very obvious, Smith said. They also make no effort to hide it.

“The reason they’re doing this, and they actually said this, is we need to generate revenue,” he said.

Smith said he isn’t against efforts to protect construction workers. He simply doesn’t want law enforcement taking advantage of their authority.

“If there’s only one construction person out there, we need to make sure that individual is safe. But when nobody is around, there’s no reason the person driving can’t go the set speed limit.”

Smith’s bill – HB1223 – can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 6.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.