Missouri law further limits locals' ticket revenue stream

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/29/2013

A new Missouri law is aimed at curtailing communities in the state that pad their budgets with speed trap revenue. HB103 includes a yellow-light rule change.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law a bill that revises an 18-year-old law to further limit the amount of total revenue local governments can receive from traffic violation fines.

Missouri law limits to 35 percent the amount of traffic fine revenue municipalities can keep. Cities or towns that receive more are required to turn it over to the Department of Revenue. The new law further trims the revenue limit to 30 percent.

Effective immediately, the new law changes the rule to include counties along with the state’s cities, towns or villages.

Advocates said the new law isn’t intended to punish local governments. They want to rein in locales that use law enforcement to “pester” nonresident drivers with unreasonable ticketing.

The community of Macks Creek in Camden County once spurred state lawmakers to act on the issue. In 1994, 75 percent of the small town’s budget reportedly came from traffic tickets.

In 1995, a Missouri law was enacted limiting the amount of traffic fine revenue municipalities can keep. Cities or towns that receive more than 35 percent of their total annual revenue from fines for traffic violations were required to turn over the money to the Department of Revenue. The agency routes the revenue to the state’s schools.

Local departments that fail to adhere to the 30 percent rule would lose their authority to enforce traffic laws until the requirements are met.

Also included in the new law is a provision to clarify the state’s rules on red-light runners.

The change prohibits ticketing vehicle owners if the vehicle entered the intersection before the light turned red. The new state law takes precedent over any local rules.

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

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