Missouri’s Point System and Warnings: What You Need To Know

Traffic Tickets

How Long Do Tickets (And Points) Stay On Your Record?

When talking about traffic tickets in Missouri, the question arises, “how long do tickets stay on my record?” With the “point system” Missouri has in place, this becomes a two part question.

With traffic tickets, (generally speaking) they drop off your record after three years. We say generally speaking however, because depending on the type of violation, it’s possible for infractions to appear on one’s driving record for longer (or even permanently).

IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING POINTS OFF YOUR LICENSE

Getting a Ticket - Missouri's Point SystemFor example, a license suspension or revocation will show up on a driving record for 5 years after reinstatement. Violations such as “Failure to Maintain Insurance” are permanently listed on Missouri driving records. “Points” on a person’s driving record become inactive after 18 months.

The Missouri “Point System Schedule” designates points that correspond to the severity of a drivers violation. Just as in the game of golf, the less points you have, the better your driving score. If a Missouri driver accumulates 8 points or more within 18 months, their drivers license will get suspended. The duration of time it’s suspended depends on how many suspensions the driver has already had. The first suspension is for 30 days.

Now, where the state of Missouri has several classifications for misdemeanors, some traffic tickets come with a Class C misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are criminal charges and are applied to one’s criminal record as well as driving record. So even if your traffic ticket drops off your driving record, it will appear permanently on your criminal record (unless expunged at a later date). As an example, driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit is considered a class C criminal misdemeanor. If you should choose to pay the traffic ticket rather than contest it, you’ll also have to plead guilty to the criminal charges before the traffic ticket is “taken care of.” Local attorneys advise that they can help to amend the charges or reduce the C misdemeanor charges so they don’t show up on your criminal record.

What About Warnings?

It’s important here to bring up “warnings” as well. Traffic stop warnings continue to bring up questions about one’s driving record – and for good reason. Warnings are quite vague as to their bearing on one’s driving record. During a traffic stop, it is the officers sole discretion as to whether a citation or warning is issued. Typically, there are two types of warnings that an officer can issue.

  • The first kind is a “verbal” warning, where the officer advises his/her reason for stopping a motorist and verbally warns the driver of the infraction and lets the driver go without a charge.
  • The second is a “written” warning where the driver is not charged with an infraction but the warning that is subsequently issued will be committed to record. In most jurisdictions, written warnings are retained for a short time. The purpose of written warnings is to make record of the actual warning issued by an officer to possibly be used against you later.

Police Cruiser - Missouri's Point SystemFor instance, let’s say you’ve been issued a written warning and are later stopped by police later. The officer that stops you will know you’ve been issued the written warning recently during a prior traffic stop. This information has a major bearing on how the officer will proceed with the traffic stop and you’ll most likely get a traffic ticket. Furthermore, some jurisdictions allow officers to re-issue a ticket for the original written warning as well as ticketing you for the current traffic stop!

WARNING, WARNING, & THEN FOR REAL

Keeping in mind that the issuing of tickets is at the officer’s sole discretion, let’s re-touch on verbal warnings. Verbal warnings are not committed to a person’s driving record, however there is always a dispatch record of traffic stops. In some jurisdictions, officers indicate to dispatchers that the traffic stop resulted in a verbal warning. In that case, there is record accessible to officers that a driver has been given a verbal warning. This information also plays a major role in how an officer proceeds with a traffic stop. Written or verbal warnings are just that… warnings. As the term “warning” implies, there will be consequences if caught doing the same thing again.

Lastly, it should be known that any warning (verbal or written) can NOT be challenged like a citation or traffic ticket. In which case, it’s argued that warnings are potentially in violation of due process of law.