SB 221 Modifies several provisions of law relating to motor vehicles including primary seat belt enforcement
Sponsor: Dolan
LR Number: 0633.07C Fiscal Note: 0633-07
Committee: Transportation
Last Action: 5/10/2005 - S requests H recede or grant conference Journal Page: S1094 / H1668
Title: HCS SCS SBs 221, 250 & 256 Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2005
House Handler: St. Onge

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Current Bill Summary


HCS/SCS/SBs 221, 250 & 256 - This act makes modifies several provisions relating to the operation of motor vehicles.

VEHICLE ACCIDENT REPORTS - This act requires law enforcement officers who investigate vehicle accidents involving property damage equaling or exceeding $2,000 to report the accident to the Highway Patrol. The current law is $500 or more (Section 43.250).

LOCAL LOG TRUCKS - This act states that harvesting equipment that may be transported on a local log truck must be used specifically for cutting, felling, trimming, de-limbing, etc. (Section 301.010). A provision similar to this is contained in SCS/HCS/HB 518 et al (2005).

MOTORCYCLE HELMET REPEAL - This act exempts motorcyclists age 21 and older from wearing a helmet when operating a motorcycle or motortricycle. Under current law, everyone operating a motorcycle or motortricycle must wear a helmet. This act is substantially similar to SB 12 (2005), SB 744 (2004), SB 226 (2003), SB 646 (2002), SB 18 (2001), SB 610 (2000) and SB 294 (1999)(Section 302.020).

SEAT BELTS/BOOSTER SEATS - This act permits a law enforcement officer to enforce the seat belt law if the violation is clearly visible to the officer without stopping the vehicle. The act provides noncompliance with the seat belt law shall not constitute probable cause for a search of the driver, passenger, or vehicle (Section 307.178).

This act requires children less than four years old to use an appropriate child passenger restraint system. The act requires children four years of age through five years of age to be secured in a child booster seat. Children six years of age or older must use a safety belt. The fine for violating this section is $25. No court costs shall be charged and no points shall be assessed. A person may escape the $25 penalty by demonstrating that the person obtained a child safety seat prior to or at his or her hearing which is satisfactory to the court or the party responsible for prosecuting the violator's citation. No points will be assessed against a person's driver's license for violating the child restraint provisions of this act. This act is substantially similar to SB 710 (2004), SB 9 (2003), SB 647 (2002) and SB 549 (2001).

AIRBAGS - Under this act, persons who install airbags that do not meet federal safety standards or install airbags that have been installed in another motor vehicle without disclosing such fact shall be guilty of a Class D felony (Section 307.156).

AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE FOR PROCEEDING THROUGH REDLIGHT WITH A MOTORCYCLE ("DEAD RED")- This act provides that a person operating a motorcycle who enters or crosses an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light shall have an affirmative defense to that charge if the person establishes all of the following conditions:

(1) The motorcycle has been brought to a complete stop;

(2) The traffic-control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time;

(3) The traffic-control signal is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed or engineered to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle; and

(4) No motor vehicle or person is approaching on the street or highway to be crossed or entered or is so far away from the intersection that it does not constitute an immediate hazard.

The affirmative defense applies only to a violation for entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light and does not provide a defense to any other civil or criminal action (Section 304.281).

PRIMARY SEAT BELT ENFORCEMENT - This act permits a law enforcement officer to enforce the seat belt law if the violation is clearly visible to the officer without stopping the vehicle. The act provides noncompliance with the seat belt law shall not constitute probable cause for a search of the driver, passenger, or vehicle (Section 307.178).

CLUTCH'S LAW (FAILURE TO YIELD RIGHT OF WAY) - This act increases the penalties and imposes driver's license points on any person failing to yield the right-of-way when the violation results in physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person. Any person violating Section 304.351 (failure to yield right-of-way) which results in physical injury will be assessed a fine of not less than $200 and have 8 points assessed against his or her driver's license. If a serious physical injury results, the person shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and a fine of not less than $500 will be imposed and 8 points will be assessed. If the failure to yield violation leads to a fatality, the person shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and a fine of not less than $1,000 will be imposed and 12 points will be assessed against his or her driver's license (Sections 302.302 and 304.351). This act is similar to SB 1192 (2004), SB 259 (2003), SB 1077 and HB 1534 (2002).

LANE RESTRICTION BY LARGE TRUCKS - This act prohibits trucks (in excess of 48,000 pounds) from being driven in the far left-hand lane on interstate highways, freeways or expressways in the urban areas of this state. This prohibition shall not apply in certain circumstances. This provision passed in HB 327 et al (omnibus transportation bill) in 2003, but was vetoed by the Governor. The act is also similar to SB 384 (2003) (Section 304.015).

NO PASSING WHEN MARKED WITH SOLID YELLOW STRIPE - This act prohibits driving to the left hand side of the a roadway when it is clearly marked with a solid yellow center stripe indicating a no passing zone or an unsafe location to overtake or drive to the left side of the roadway (Class B misdemeanor)(Section 304.016).

TOWING BY LAW ENFORCEMENT - Under this act, law enforcement officers may authorize a towing company to immediately move any vehicle left unattended on any interstate highway or freeway in an urbanized area. Currently, a vehicle must be abandoned for at least four hours (Section 304.155). This provision is contained in SCS/HCS/HB 518 (2005).

TREATMENT OF PRIOR AND PERSISTENT OFFENDERS INVOLVING MUNICIPAL INTOXICATED-RELATED TRAFFIC OFFENSES - This act clarifies that the penalty enhancement provisions in Section 577.023 relating to prior/persistent offenders should be applied consistently whether in municipal, county, and state courts. Specifically, this act clarifies that when an individual is charged under a municipal ordinance the individual is not entitled to suspended imposition of sentence if he/she meets the definition and classification as prior or persistent offender under Section 577.023.1(2) and (3).

CERTIFICATION OF ALCOHOL RELATED REPORTS - This act requires alcohol related reports submitted to the Department of Revenue by law enforcement officers to be certified rather than verified. The act requires law enforcement officers to certify the alcohol arrest reports under penalties of perjury prior to filing the reports with the department (Section 302.510 and 577.041). The reports shall be admissible as prima facie evidence at administrative hearings. The act repeals the requirement for license surrender in order to obtain a hearing on administrative alcohol arrests (Section 302.530). These provisions are similar to ones contained in SB 490 (2003).

HIGHWAY WORK ZONE PROTECTION - This act increases various penalties for offenses occurring within highway work zones or construction zones. Under this act, any person convicted of a second or subsequent moving violation within a work zone shall be assessed a fine of $75. The act provides that a person who is convicted of speeding or passing a vehicle within a work zone when a highway worker is present a second or subsequent time shall be assessed a fine of $300 in addition to any other fine authorized by law.

The act also creates the crime of "endangerment of a highway worker". The act provides that if a person commits the offense of endangerment of a highway worker in which no injury or death results the person shall, in addition to any other penalty authorized by law, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. If a highway worker is injured as a result of committing the offense of endangerment of a highway worker, the person shall be guilty of Class D felony. If a death of a highway worker results, the person shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

A person commits the offense of endangerment of a highway worker if the motorist:

(1) Exceeds the posted speed limit by 10 mph or more;

(2) Fails to stop for a work zone flagman or fails to obey other traffic control devices erected in the work zone;

(3) Drives through or around the work zone by any lane not clearly designated for such purpose;

(4) Physically assaults or attempts to assault a highway worker with a motor vehicle or other deadly weapon;

(5) Negligently strikes or moves barrels, barriers, signs or other devices erected to control the flow of traffic; or

(6) Commits various offenses in which points may be assessed under section 302.302.

WORK ZONE SAFETY TRUST FUND - Under this act, a five dollar surcharge shall be accessed on all traffic violations and infractions. The surcharge shall be deposited into the Work Zone Safety Trust Fund. The Work Zone Safety Trust Fund is created for the deposit of the surcharges and other revenues to be used for funding enforcement of all traffic laws in construction or work zones (Section 304.590).

STEPHEN WITTE