Emergency rule takes effect for minor traffic violations

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COLUMBIA - An emergency rule regarding minor traffic violations took effect Friday. 

The rule deals with the amount of revenue cities are allowed to gather from traffic violations. Under the new rule, the amount cities collect cannot exceed 35 percent. 

Any revenue beyond 35 percent must be sent to the state Department of Revenue. The emergency rule is a temporary move until the new law goes into effect in 2016, at which point revenue would be capped at 20 percent.

The entirety of Senate Bill 5 which lawmakers passed this past legislative session, is expected to take effect starting in 2016. Under the new law, minor traffic violation fees will not be allowed to exceed $300.  

Deetra Williams said the change shouldn't make a difference in the City of Columbia, because it doesn't assess fines and costs greater than $300 for the type of violation according to the Columbia Municipal Court.

Deetra Williams said people cannot be sent to jail for a minor traffic violation unless it involves alcohol, drugs, endangers the health and welfare of others or if the person eludes or provides false information to the police.

The original law has been around for more than two decades. It's called the "Macks Creek" law. Macks Creek is a small town in Camdenton County with fewer than 300 residents.

Macks Creek was widely known as Missouri's most notorious speed trap. It was reported Macks Creek was generating about 80 percent of the town's revenue from speeding tickets. Communities in St. Louis County are an exception to the new law and can generate 12.5 percent of its income from traffic fines.

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