September 29, 2011

Scotland County State Traffic Tickets Headed to Fine Collection Center Beginning October 1st

An important change is coming to traffic law cases in Scotland County. Effective October 1, 2011, most state traffic tickets issued in Scotland County will be sent to the statewide Fine Collection Center (FCC) for processing.

On April 14, 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a formal order requiring all counties to participate in the Fine Collection Center program no later than January 1, 2012.

A state traffic ticket is a ticket charging a violation of Missouri state traffic laws. State tickets may be issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Scotland County Sheriff's Department, the Memphis Police Department, or any other law enforcement agency.

When a person receives a state traffic ticket on or after October 1, the officer will provide the person with instructions and an envelope for mailing payment to the FCC. The instructions will inform the person that, within thirty days of receiving the ticket, they must either plead guilty and pay their fine and costs in full, or send a plea of not guilty to the FCC.

In addition to payment by mail, the FCC can also accept on-line payments for traffic tickets, with a Visa or Master Card. If a person chooses to pay the fine and costs on-line, a credit card service fee will be added to the amount due.

A person must send a "not guilty" plea to the FCC if they wish their case to be processed in the local court system. The not guilty plea should be sent in whether the person is intending to contest the charges and take the case to trial; to seek an opportunity to reach a plea agreement with the Prosecuting Attorney; or is unable to make full payment within thirty days, and simply wishes to work out a payment schedule with the court.

If a person chooses to hire an attorney in relation to a traffic charge sent to the FCC, the attorney will need to send an entry of appearance and plea of not guilty on the driver's behalf to the FCC, within the thirty-day period. The case will then be returned from the FCC to the Prosecuting Attorney for further proceedings.

If the FCC receives a "not guilty" plea to a ticket, the ticket will be returned to the Scotland County Prosecuting Attorney for review. If the Prosecuting Attorney then files the ticket in the Scotland County Circuit Court, the person who was given the ticket will receive a notice of their court date by mail.

If a person who receives a ticket fails to respond to the FCC within thirty days, a warning notice will be sent to the person from the FCC. If the person still fails to respond within the required time, the FCC will direct the Missouri Department of Revenue to take action to suspend driving privileges. Driving privileges will not be reinstated until the case has been taken care of. The case will also be returned to the Scotland County Prosecuting Attorney for review and filing in the local court. Failure to appear in court is likely to result in issuance of an arrest warrant.

If a person has a question about a case which has been sent to the Fine Collection Center, they should call the FCC directly, toll-free, at 1-877-866-3926. The Scotland County Circuit Clerk and the Scotland County Prosecuting Attorney will not have any specific information about the case, during the time it remains at the FCC for processing. However, if anyone has questions about the new traffic ticket process or is not clear about what is going to happen with their case, they are always welcome to call the Prosecuting Attorney's office at (660) 465-7753, or the Circuit Clerk's office, (660) 465-8605.

Persons with cases sent to the FCC, as well as those with cases pending in the Scotland County Circuit Court or in other Missouri counties, may also check the status of their case on-line through the Missouri Judiciary's "Case.Net" web site, at http://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/.

All tickets issued prior to October 1, 2011, will be sent directly to the Prosecuting Attorney for filing in the Scotland County Circuit Court, as in the past.

Certain types of cases will continue to be processed locally through the Scotland County Circuit Court, as in the past. City of Memphis municipal ordinance violations, and conservation violations charged in Scotland County, will not be sent to the FCC.

Persons facing certain types of charges will always be required to appear in court, and their cases will not be sent to the FCC. These include accident cases involving property damage or personal injury; drug and alcohol violations; speeding more than 25 miles over the speed limit; driving without a valid license or with a revoked or suspended license; failure to provide proof of insurance; motor fuel tax violations; and violations requiring the posting of a bond. The officer will advise the driver whether the case requires appearance in court, or whether it is being sent to the Fine Collection Center.

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