New Laws Affecting Vehicle Operation

 

New Laws Affecting Vehicle Operation

The Missouri General Assembly recently enacted new legislation affecting vehicle operation, and Governor Matt Blunt has signed the legislation into law. Some of the laws contained an emergency clause and went into effect upon the signing; others will go into effect August 28, 2008. The Patrol wishes to make the public aware of these new laws or changes to increase public awareness and education of motor vehicle laws.

UTILITY VEHICLES — This act provides a definition for the term “utility vehicle” and prohibits their use on the highways except under limited circumstances similar to the current ATV law. As defined by this act, a utility vehicle is any motorized vehicle manufactured and used exclusively
for off-highway use which is 63″ or less in width, with an unladen dryweight of 1,850 pounds or less, traveling on four or six wheels, to be usedprimarily for landscaping, lawn care, or maintenance purposes.

Utility vehicles may not be operated on highways in Missouri unless:
(1) the utility vehicle is owned and operated by a governmental entity for official use;
(2) the utility vehicle is operated for agricultural or industrial purposes between sunrise and sunset (unless equipped with proper lighting);
(3) the utility vehicle is operated by a handicapped person occasionally, for short distances, on secondary roads, between sunrise and sunset; and,
(4) as with ATVs now, cities and counties will be allowed to issue permits for operation of utility vehicles on highways or county roads within their political boundaries. The maximum speed limit for utility vehicles operated on roadways under this provision will be limited to less than 45 mph, and operators (except handicapped persons) must have a license.

In addition, no one may operate a utility vehicle:
(1) in a careless way so as to endanger the life or property of another;
(2) while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance; or,
(3) with a passenger, unless the utility vehicle is being operated for agricultural purposes, or the seat is designed to carry more than one person (see Sections 301.010 and 304.032 RSMo.).

LICENSE PLATES FOR PROPERTY-CARRYING COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES — Under
this act, the option of receiving two license plates for any property-carrying commercial motor vehicle is repealed (Section 301.130.3 RSMo.).

LEFT-HAND LANE PROHIBITION — This act prohibits trucks registered for agross weight greater than 48,000 pounds from being driven in the far left-hand lane upon interstates and other highways within the urbanized areas of the state having three or more lanes of traffic proceeding in the same direction. The restriction does not apply under certain circumstances (e.g. right-hand lane is closed to due to construction). (Section 304.015 RSMo.)

INCREASED WEIGHT LIMITS ON U.S. HIGHWAY 36 — Under this act, the total gross weight of any vehicle or combination of vehicles hauling livestock may be as much as, but shall not exceed, 85,500 pounds while operating on U.S. Highway 36 from St. Joseph to U.S. Highway 65, and on U.S. Highway 65 from the Iowa state line to U.S. Highway 36 (Section 304.180.9 RSMo.).

TRAVEL SAFE ZONE — This act doubles the fine imposed for a moving or speeding violation when committed in a designated travel safe zone. A “travel safe zone” is defined as any area upon or around any highway, visibly marked by the Department of Transportation, where a highway safety analysis shows the number of fatal or disabling vehicle crashes exceeds a predicted safety performance level for comparable roadways as determined by the department. In order to assess the fines, the department must have erected signs around the travel safe zone which warn motorists that fines are doubled for speeding and committing other moving violations in the travel safe zone (Section 304.590 RSMo.).

DRIVER’S LICENSES (Sections 302.063, 302.720, and 578.570 RSMO.) – The Department of Revenue is prohibited from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and persons who cannot prove lawful presence in the United States. The commercial driver’s license written test must only be given in English. Translators will not be allowed for applicants taking the CDL test. Penalties for driver’s license fraud are established.

PRIOR DWI AND INTOXICATION-RELATED OFFENSES — This act attempts to rectify a recent Supreme Court ruling that held that a defendant’s prior guilty plea and suspended imposition of sentence in municipal court could not be used to enhance the punishment for the defendant’s new intoxication-related traffic offense. This act specifies that a conviction, plea of guilty, or a finding of guilty followed by incarceration, a fine, a suspended imposition of sentence, suspended execution of sentence, probation or parole, or any combination thereof in any intoxication-related traffic offense in a state, county, or municipal court shall be treated as a prior plea of guilty or finding of guilty for purposes of enhanced punishment under Section 577.023 RSMo.

IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES — This act makes the current ignition interlock device law for repeat offenders an administrative requirement enforced by the Department of Revenue instead of the courts. Under the terms of the act, repeat offenders must provide proof of installation to the department in order to obtain a license or limited driving privilege.

Under the terms of this act, any person who has been convicted of two or more driving while intoxicated offenses and had his or her license or driving privilege denied cannot have his or license reinstated until the person has filed proof with the director of the Department of Revenue that his or her motor vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device must be maintained on all motor vehicles operated by the person for a period of at least six months following the date of reinstatement. If the person fails to maintain the proof, the restricted driving privilege will be suspended for the remainder of the six-month period or until the person files proof with the director (Section 302.060 RSMo.).

The act applies the same criteria to persons who have had their license suspended or revoked due to points for a second or subsequent conviction relating to driving while in an intoxicated condition, driving under the influence of controlled substances or drugs, or driving with a blood
alcohol content of eight-hundredths of one percent or more by weight. Such persons must also file proof with the director that have equipped their motor vehicles with certified ignition interlock devices. Such devices shall be maintained on all vehicles for a period of at least six months following the date of reinstatement. If the person fails to maintain proof of maintaining an ignition interlock device, the person will be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor (Section 302.304 RSMo.). The act specifies that a limited driving privilege may be granted to a person seeking the services of a certified ignition interlock device provider. No limited driving privilege shall be issued under Section 302.309 RSMO. until the applicant for such privilege files proof with the director of the Department of Revenue that all of the motor vehicles operated by the applicant are equipped with certified ignition interlock devices. Failure to maintain proof of installation of a functioning, certified ignition interlock device shall result in termination of the limited driving privilege (Section 302.309 RSMo.). The provisions of the act relating to the installation of ignition interlock devices becomes effective July 1, 2009.