Bill may give teens community service option for traffic tickets

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray (D-Black Jack) is sponsoring a bill that would give some teen drivers the option of performing community service instead of paying a fine for certain traffic violations.

Gray said the bill gives more opportunities to teens who may be struggling financially.

"Some teens just don't have that type of money," Gray said. "This gives them a second chance because I don't think they should be arrested for not being able to pay their fine over a minor traffic violation."

The proposed legislation states a defendant who is 15 to 17 years old or a defendant who is 18 years old and enrolled in a secondary school can perform community service through a community service program in lieu of paying restitution, court costs, fees, expenses or fines.

The bill would apply to "all traffic offenses deemed infractions, class C misdemeanors, or violations of any ordinance or political subdivision of the state". This would include speeding tickets, loitering, and littering.

According to the proposed bill, the option of performing community service instead of paying fine would only be offered once to teen offenders within a 12-month period.

Lawmakers discussed the bill in a committee hearing Wednesday. Gray said she expects a vote on the bill in the next 1 to 2 weeks.