Nearly ruined an awesome road trip...
January 3, 2008 8:49 AM   Subscribe

On a road trip across the midwestern United States. Out of state driver, small town speed trap. Can I ignore the ticket? and other questions.

I got pulled over passing through Foristell, MO, in what is apparently the worst speed trap in Missouri. Also, I have an out of state license (California), driving a rental car with out of state plates (Texas), which means I'm a big flashing dollar sign for them. I don't take too kindly to being extorted, so I'm wondering if a small town in Missouri will actually report this to California and have my license suspended if I don't pay up, or is that just an empty threat by the cops to make sure I fill their tiny city's coffers. I've heard that they could issue a warrant for your arrest but you could avoid that as long as you never plan on returning. On a similar note, do out of state moving violations count as points on your driving license in your home state and will it raise insurance premiums? I know this would differ between states (and which combinations of states) so any specific experiences with California drivers in Missouri would be appreciated.
posted by lou to Law & Government (22 answers total)
I once shitcanned a speeding ticket I got in Texas (I live in NM), and my license was suspended two months later. YMMV.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:56 AM on January 3, 2008

As for the ticket I wouldn't know. But FWIW, I would pay 150 bucks not to have to worry about what might happen from disregarding it.

As for the points, where I come from the states/insurance companies sometimes have agreements or something of the sort. Usually they are only neighboring states. It would be like speeding at home. So I wouldn’t really worry about that since you were so far away.
posted by thetenthstory at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Presumably you were speeding. You aren't being "extorted." This is a lot of hand wringing over a ticket. Pay the thing and move on.
posted by milarepa at 8:59 AM on January 3, 2008 [5 favorites]

Purely anecdotal, but I was ticketed many years ago while in a small town in Pennsylvania and chose to ignore it (read: completely forgot about it). My license expired shortly thereafter and I never bothered renewing it (I'm a typical New Yorker with little use for cars or driving). Fast forward to about a year ago when I decided I might as well get a drivers license again, and sure enough, NY State wouldn't issue me a new license until I dealt with the outstanding ticket.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:59 AM on January 3, 2008

IANYL, but if you got a ticket, I'd either pay it or fight it. Ignoring it may result in nothing or could come back and bite you in the ass - do you want to take that risk?
posted by dicaxpuella at 9:00 AM on January 3, 2008

Well, since it was a rental they will most likely send the bill to your rental agency who will pay it and then charge the credit card you used to pay for the car.

Beyond that, both CA and MO belong to the DLC (Driver License Compact). This is an agreement "between the jurisdictions to promote highway safety by sharing and transmitting driver and conviction information." So MO will certainly inform CA of the citation, and CA will certainly share any information they have on you. However, it is unlikely that someone from CA would actually head out to your house to arrest you. OTOH, once the sum of the fines and the fines for not paying the fines and so on go beyond a certain amount, MO may send a collection agency after you. Note that IANAL.
posted by ubiquity at 9:01 AM on January 3, 2008

How fast were you going?

Used to be, all the state plates were different colors, so it was easy to single out-of-staters out of the pack. Now, not so much, so your texas plates probably didn't figure into it.

The small town reports it to Missouri. Again, used-to-be, most states didn't communicate with each other about such things, but about ten-twelve years ago, states started trading info. It's an opt-in program, but it seems like even tickets in states that are supposedly not-reporting, somehow wind up being reported. I've had tickets in Utah and Kansas, in both of which I was told by the prosecutor the information would not be passed on, and points on my MO drivers' license would not be assessed, but they were anyway - and I paid the fines!

Hate to say it, but pay the thing. Having your license revoked for penny-ante bullshit is no fun.
posted by notsnot at 9:02 AM on January 3, 2008

Pay it. Soon. Many years ago, I got a speeding ticket in a similar situation. And I paid it, but a week after it was due. Two years later, I was hit by a drunk driver. The sheriff ran my license as is policy, and it came back SUSPENDED. And I was arrested, and brought to jail with the drunk idiot underage girl who hit me. The sheriff apologized, and made it easy for me as possible. I was bailed out by my sister, and took care of everything at court the next morning. But just paying the ticket LATE got me a suspension (of which I never ever received a notice about).
posted by kimdog at 9:10 AM on January 3, 2008

You will get a warrant out for your arrest in Missouri if you don't pay the ticket. This information will be displayed in the Missouri Court Database for everyone to see, including potential future employers if they do a background check.
posted by Ostara at 9:11 AM on January 3, 2008

Yeah, you have to pay it if you don't want trouble further down the line.

You could fight it...if you wanted to go back to the small town for your court date. And if you wanted to butt heads with what is probably a firmly-entrenched and lucrative revenue stream for the municipality. You won't win. You might be able to plead to a different, non-moving-violation charge in order to keep your driving record clean. But, in the end, you're going to have to write a check for something, be it speeding or "public nuisance".
They just want the money. They don't give a shit what the charge is.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2008

Pay it. It used to be that states didn't communicate with one another on moving violations. Not so any longer. It will come back to haunt you in some weird way.

Anecdote: I was living in California, and got a speeding ticket in Oregon. Years later, I moved to Washington. Washington refused to give me a Washington driver's license until I paid the fine in Oregon, which had tripled over time, with the penalties and interest.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:17 AM on January 3, 2008

Assuming you were speeding, just pay it and stop claiming you're being "extorted." Yes, your license can be suspended, either now or when you go to renew it. Communication between states will only increase, and you will eventually have to pay for it one way or another.
posted by almostmanda at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2008

Don't pay it. Hire an attorney to fight it. But do take care of it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:36 AM on January 3, 2008

Foristell really is famous for extorting people for speeding...they will pull people over for exceeding the speed limit by just one MPH...I speed from Columbia to STL a couple times a month at least 10 - 15 over, but i go exactly the speed limit through Foristell.

A lawyer can probably take care of this for you from out of state...
posted by schyler523 at 9:45 AM on January 3, 2008

As surreal as this sounds I swear it is true. Years ago (6-7) I got a parking ticket in D.C. As I was from out of state and in a rental car I decided to blow it off. Long story short: via the car rental company a large amount of money was charged to my credit card to pay the fine and a shockingly hefty additional fine for not responding. I didn't know they could do that. I think things are so interconnected now what with this internet thingy that it's advisable to just always pay up.
posted by dawson at 10:02 AM on January 3, 2008

No, you cannot ignore the ticket. It'll get you an FTA (Failure To Appear) or an FTP (Failure To Pay), which results in suspension of your license. Due to COMPACT, the interstate MVA organization, if you're suspended in one state, you're suspended in all of them, and subject to arrest if you're stopped. How do I know all this? I used to work for Maryland's MVA, on the very systems that are involved in this process. Pay the ticket.
posted by Fferret at 10:18 AM on January 3, 2008

If you ignore it the rental car company will pay it and charge you, possibly plus a fee.
posted by loiseau at 10:24 AM on January 3, 2008

You missed out some important information.

What was the speed limit?

How fast were you going?
posted by tetranz at 10:45 AM on January 3, 2008

Speed trap or not, do not ignore a ticket. Mr. Adams was issued a ticket many years ago for having an expired license plate. He renewed the plate and paid the ticket. Flash forward several years later, and we get stopped for making an illegal right turn on red. Cops run his license and find that there's a bench warrant for his arrest due to that "outstanding" ticket. Mr. Adams is handcuffed and hauled to jail, and I bail him out to the tune of $200. We spend the rest of the night rooting through boxes in the attic to find the bank statement with the cancelled check showing that he'd paid the ticket. He shows up for his court date, provides the proof that the ticket had been paid, and that charge was dismissed. The "right turn on red" charge was also dismissed, because there had been a sign at that intersection permitting it, but had just recently been knocked down in a vehicular accident. All charges dismissed, but Mr. Adams had to pay $200 in court costs for bringing the matter to trial. Four hundred bucks and he hadn't done anything wrong! So don't ignore that ticket.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:44 AM on January 3, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed -- please don't start a "don't break the law in the future" derail, it's not helpful to this question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:21 PM on January 3, 2008

The speed limit on this particular stretch of road, according to a close read of that second article, is 70 miles per hour. Sheesh. That's no speed trap.

As for the infamous Foristell, it was ranked "worst" in Missouri according to a "state-by-state list...prepared through a two-week online poll on the NMA websites, and, and a review of two years' worth of postings on the speed trap site." (Italics mine.) Not sure that the indignation of people who post to is the most reliable proof of unfair practices. But perhaps you could apply for one of the NMA's legal aid grants when your license is suspended.

Seriously, if the points transfer, it'll likely be only two points, which is usually too low to affect insurance premiums. Years ago, non-adjacent states didn't communicate tickets very well, but nowadays the network is a lot more efficient.
posted by desuetude at 12:26 PM on January 3, 2008

I know some of the small Texas towns will wait until they have a number of tickets for people in the larger cities and then they will send one deputy into that large city to call people up to collect late fees, court fees... They collect a lot of fees. Enough to pay for that deputy's trip and they also take some people they find back to that small town.

I would take care of it. A friend had a ticket in Seattle taken care of online very easily from another state. It would be a shame for something like this to pop up in a background check for a job interview or loan application - something like that years later looks bad and cost more to clean up.
posted by dog food sugar at 4:16 PM on January 3, 2008

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