New rules change how Missouri traffic tickets processed

Your ability to get your tickets taken care of by going through the Fine Collection Center in Jefferson City has changed and appears to be causing extra work for local counties at the circuit court level.

In the past, when the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) issued tickets for traffic violations, you were allowed to simply plead guilty and send your fine to the fine collection center (a.k.a. FCC) located in Jefferson City.

But if you wanted to fight the ticket the ticket offense would be sent to the circuit court level in the county where the offense occurred.

However, there was a recent en banc ruling by the court that effectively closed down the FCC by redirecting the process of all tickets to the local prosecuting attorney’s office and circuit court.

Some judges around the state have noted that this will likely increase the workload for local officials.

The change is part of a requirement that prosecutors have to first process the charge through an electronic e-filing system and sign off on the tickets.

Additionally, the Office of State Courts Administrator (OSCA) changed some of the rules on how some tickets are filed.  For example, tickets for driving without a valid license, no-insurance and speeding over 25 mph must now be filed as a criminal case.

Another problem with recent changes involves having citizens paying for tickets on-line. It’s not uncommon for a person to pay a ticket but enter the wrong ticket number. They then thereby pay the ticket and enter a guilty plea for someone else’s ticket. Then when that person who paid for someone else’s ticket finds out there is an outstanding ticket or warrant for them, they are confused. And the person whose ticket was paid for and entered a guilty plea, that person may have wanted to challenge the ticket or hire an attorney to amend the charge, only to find out there is a guilty plea now.

This confusion by allowing citizens to manually enter ticket numbers made more work for clerk staff to hunt down the person who made the mistake, refund their credit card, contact the other party involved, and change all the records.  

The changes to how state-issued citations are processed through the court system came from a Missouri Supreme Court ruling modifying Rules 37 and 38 and Court Operating Rule 21. The changes took effect May 1, 2019 and some courts are just now realizing the impact on their local circuit court systems.

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