In one month, Missouri Senate Bill 5 takes effect in Missouri. This new law, which was signed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon in July, limits municipal revenue from traffic fines, mandates new municipal court procedures and strict financial reporting requirements. While the majority of the new law appears to be aimed at the St. Louis region, it affects municipalities throughout the state, including the Kansas City metropolitan area in which many of my clients reside and work.
One of the more important provisions from this new law for many of clients is that fines and court costs for many minor traffic offenses will be capped at $300, and no one would be sentenced to jail for not being able to pay a fine. Furthermore, there are new restrictions on Courts’ ability to charge “failure to appear” fines for those that do not appear in Court on their traffic charges, although warrants can still be issued. To help municipalities collect unpaid tickets, the law allows municipal courts to withhold tax refund money from offenders.
The law also imposed new “due process” standards that are applicable to municipal courts. Although the new law will not become effective until August 28, 2015, many courts in the Kansas City metropolitan area have already started incorporating new due process procedures, new options regarding “time to pay,” and also making changes to their traffic fines and their traffic and speeding ticket amendment procedures.