Your next speeding violation could be ticket to jail
Judge Ray cracking down on excessive speeding violations
By TERESA RESSEL\\Daily Journal Staff Writer
Your next speeding ticket might make you an appointment in court before the associate circuit judge. It could also get you a couple days in jail.
Associate Circuit Court Judge Thomas L. Ray said any motorist caught by the Missouri State Highway Patrol driving 25 mph or more over the speed limit will have to appear in court to explain why they needed to drive so fast.
Judge Ray said that is something he has been doing for the past few months.
“We get a lot of speeding tickets (in my courtroom),” Judge Ray said. “We probably get a couple dozen every year in excess of 100 mph, which is obviously dangerously fast.”
In Judge Ray's court, a person could face a fine and possibly a weekend or more in the county jail.
Cpl. Warren Robinson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Judge Ray recently sentenced at least two of the people he pulled over for speeding to five days in jail. Both were going more than 25 mph over the speed limit.
Judge Ray said another young man told him that he was driving 104 mph because he had a bet with his buddies that his older vehicle could go that fast. He used the speeding ticket as proof.
The judge said any money he may have made from the bet went back to his court for a fine.
Cpl. Al Nothum, public information and education officer for Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C, also takes speeding seriously. He said speeding and inattention are the two leading causes of traffic crashes.
“It's very important people obey the speed limit,” Nothum said. “If it's 70 (mph), it's 70. If it's 60, it's 60, not 65...”
He said if someone pulls out in front of you or a deer jumps out, you need the time to slow down.
“They always say speed kills and it does,” he said.
Nothum said a person can be legally pulled over for going 1 mph over the speed limit. “Are you going to get a ticket for speeding? Probably not,” he said. However, the person could get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt - another law they like to see enforced.
The Highway Patrol has many ways to catch speeders. On Wednesday morning, they used their aircraft to catch 20 speeders near Rosener Road and U.S. 67. The aircraft told patrol vehicles on the ground which vehicles were speeding and how fast they were going.
They also have a handheld laser to check motorists from where motorists typically won't see them. A trooper uses the laser while other patrol vehicles stop the ones that are speeding.
Shawn McCarver, who is the municipal judge in Bonne Terre, Desloge, Park Hills, Leadwood and Bismarck, said he doesn't have a policy that a person driving a certain amount over the speed limit must appear in court. However, the fine goes up dramatically for speeding 20 mph or over.
McCarver said the fines for speeding up to 20 mph over the speed limit in those cities are $2 per mile over the speed limit, plus a $40 flat fine and court costs that typically run from $22.50 to $24.50.
If the ticket is for more than 20 mph over the speed limit, the base fine starts out at $100 and court costs are added on. It is up to the judge to determine the fine.
McCarver said he doesn't recall ever jailing a person for speeding but he does have the authority to send a person to jail for that.
What to do if pulled over
When you see flashing red lights behind you, slow down, signal your intentions to turn onto the right shoulder, and drive off the roadway to the right as far as you can safely do so. This gives the police officer more room to safely talk to you.
Missouri law actually requires motorists to pull as far as possible to the right of the highway and stop when a police car approaches displaying emergency lights. The motorist must remained stopped until the patrol car has passed or a police officer directs you otherwise.
“They should sit tight in their car and keep their hands where they can be seen,” Cpl. Robinson said. “Don't do anything sudden.”
While the trooper is approaching your vehicle, do not attempt to reach under your seat, in the glove compartment, in a console, or any other place hidden from the trooper's view.
After an explanation of why you were stopped, the officer may ask for your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance card.
Officers ask that you not attempt to debate the merits of the traffic ticket on the side of the road. The court is said to be the proper place to contest any grievances.
Refusing to sign a traffic ticket will not eliminate your obligation to appear in court, Once the trooper gives you a copy of the traffic ticket, you have been served with a summons to appear in court. Failure to appear or to pay the fine is a violation of the law which may result in additional charges being filed.