All the Missouri Traffic Laws You Should Know

From speeding tickets and DUI penalties to U-turns, right of way, and car seat laws, these are all the Missouri traffic laws you should know.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
Drivers in
, like those in every state, are required to follow a set of rules and regulations to keep themselves and others safe while on the road.
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Missouri general traffic laws

Missouri's traffic laws and regulations are detailed in the
Missouri Driver Guide
, a 100-page handbook that covers everything from licensing procedures to insurance requirements. We understand that 100 pages are a lot to pore over when you just need some quick info, so we’ve narrowed down the most important laws for you here.

Driver’s license laws

To operate a vehicle in Missouri, drivers must hold a valid
Missouri driver’s license
. We mean this literally—you have to carry the physical card with you any time you’re operating a motor vehicle. Even if you’ve just forgotten to bring your license with you, a person who’s stopped by law enforcement can still be arrested on the presumption of
driving without a license
If you’re caught driving on a
revoked or suspended license
, you could face the following fine and potential jail time:
Driving on a suspended or revoked license (1st offense)
Class D Misdemeanor: Fines of up to $500 and 12 points added to driving record
Driving on a suspended or revoked license (2nd offense)
Class A Misdemeanor: Fines of up to $2,000 and up to 1 year in jail and 12 points added to driving record
Driving on a suspended or revoked license
  • 3 or more times in 10 years
  • 2 or more times and in conjunction with a prior DUI
  • 1st offense in conjunction with a second-offense DUI
Class E Felony: Fines of up to $10,000 and up to 1 year in county jail or up to 4 years in state prison and 12 points added to driving record
In Missouri, accumulating eight points within 18 months can result in license revocation for 30 days, and accumulating 12 points in 12 months can lead to a one-year revocation. This means driving on a suspended or revoked license will also increase the length of time for which your license is revoked.

Insurance laws

Your driver's license isn’t the only document you should have on hand while you’re driving in Missouri. You’re also required to carry a digital or paper copy of your
Missouri Insurance Liability card
, indicating you’ve purchased a policy that meets or exceeds the state’s minimum coverage requirements. Missouri’s minimum requirements for liability insurance coverage include:
If you’re unable to produce proof of sufficient insurance coverage when it's requested by a law enforcement official, you will receive a traffic ticket. If you’re found guilty of driving without proper insurance coverage, the following fees could apply, and your license could be suspended.
Failure to show proof of insurance (1st offense)
Immediate license suspension until adequate insurance is obtained. $20 license reinstatement fee and 4 points added to driving record.
Failure to show proof of insurance (2nd offense)
Fines up to $500, and jail time of up to 4 days, plus immediate license suspension for 90 days. $200 license reinstatement fee and 4 points added to driving record.
Failure to show proof of insurance (3rd and subsequent offenses)
Fines of up to $500 and jail time of up to 15 days, plus immediate license suspension for one year. $400 license reinstatement fee and 4 points added to driving record.
In each case, drivers must show
proof of insurance
before license reinstatements can be processed.

Right of way

When driving in Missouri, you’re often sharing the road with both other vehicles and pedestrians. In areas where there are no signs to direct traffic, there are rules that dictate who should yield the right of way to whom.
Here are some examples of situations in which Missouri drivers are required to yield the right-of-way: 
  • When turning left, yield the right of way to oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists
  • When turning right, yield the right of way to through traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists
  • When approaching a roundabout, yield the right of way to traffic in the circle and pedestrians in the crosswalks
  • When entering or exiting a parking lot, alley, or driveway, yield the right of way to pedestrians
Emergency vehicles with their lights or sirens on, school buses, pedestrians, and cyclists always have the right of way. Missouri drivers are also required to yield the right-of-way to funeral processions. Failure to yield the right of way in any circumstance can result in steep fines if it results in injuries.
Failure to yield resulting in no injuries
Fine of $30.50 and 2 points added to driving record
Failure to yield resulting in physical injury to another
$500 to $1,000 in fines and possible license suspension up to 30 days. Up to 4 points added to driving record
Failure to yield resulting in serious physical injury to another
$1,000 to $3,000 in fines, 90-day license suspension, and up to 4 points added to driving record
Failure to yield resulting in fatality
$5,000 to $10,000 in fines, 6-month to 1-year license suspension, and 4 points added to driving record

Passing and turning

Driving is about more than just staying between the lines. It also involves passing and turning, both of which involve their own sets of laws for Missouri drivers.
As in most U.S. states, drivers are expected to keep to the right lane in most circumstances. Some circumstances that may require a driver to leave the right lane and pass on the left include:
  • Passing another vehicle
  • Driving on a one-way road or multi-lane divided highway
  • Driving in an area where the right lane is blocked
It should go without saying that if you need to pass another vehicle for any reason, you should first make sure the way is clear. You should also use your turn signal to indicate that you’re about to merge into the left lane. Once you’re well ahead of the vehicle you’ve just passed, signal to merge back into the right lane.
Generally speaking, it is legal to negotiate U-turns in Missouri, unless there is a sign posted prohibiting it. You should also avoid performing a U-turn if you’re unable to see at least 500 feet in the direction of oncoming traffic.
Passing on the right is illegal in Missouri, except in the following conditions:
  • When you come upon a vehicle that is making or is about to make a left turn
  • Upon a city street wide enough for two or more lines of traffic in each direction
  • Upon a one-way street
  • When driving on a multi-lane highway
Only pass on the right if there is sufficient room for you to do so without leaving the pavement.
And now, we’ve reached turn signals. Your turn signals, or indicators, are there for much more than just full left and right turns. In Missouri, you must use either your vehicle’s turn signals or appropriate hand signals to indicate your intention to:
  • Change lanes
  • Turn
  • Pull out of a parking spot parallel to the road
  • Slow down or stop 
  • Enter or leave a highway 
  • Pull over to the side of the road

Parking laws

Missouri codifies a variety of laws to govern parking. These dictate where it’s legal to park, stop, and “stand” to let passengers in and out of your vehicle.
In Missouri, drivers must not park, stop, or stand:
  • On the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked at the edge or curb of a street (double parking)
  • On a sidewalk
  • Within an intersection
  • On a crosswalk
  • Between a safety zone and the adjacent curb, or within 30 feet of points on the curb immediately opposite the ends of a safety zone
  • Alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when stopping, standing, or parking would obstruct traffic
  • Upon any bridge or other elevated structure upon a highway or within a highway tunnel
  • On any railroad tracks
  • At any place where official signs prohibit stopping, parking, or standing
It’s illegal to park or stand in Missouri: 
  • In front of a public or private driveway
  • Within 15 feet of fire hydrant
  • Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection
  • Within 30 feet of a flashing signal, stop sign, or traffic control signal
  • Within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to any fire station and on the side of a street opposite the entrance to any fire station if it’s within 75 feet of the station entrance
  • At any place where official sign prohibit parking or standing
It is illegal to park in Missouri: 
  • Within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing
  • At any place where official sign prohibit parking

Missouri speeding laws

Speeding laws are the ones we’re likely most familiar with. Unfortunately, they’re also the ones most often broken. Regardless, Missouri drivers are required to maintain a safe driving speed by following posted speed limits. They are also expected to slow down when driving in inclement weather—like rain, snow, or ice—if the streets are crowded with traffic or pedestrians, or in any situation where visibility is limited
As is the case in every U.S. state, street racing and drag racing are illegal in Missouri.

Speed limits

Most Missouri roads, city streets, and highways have signs posted to indicate the speed limit. However, in case you missed a posted sign or you’re simply not sure what speed you should be driving, Missouri offers this guide:
  • Rural interstates and freeways: 70 mph 
  • Rural expressways: 65 mph 
  • Interstate highways, freeways or expressways within urbanized areas: 60 mph 
  • All other roads and highways not located in an urbanized area: 60 mph 
  • Lettered roads: 55 mph 

Move-over laws

Like many U.S. states, Missouri enforces move-over laws that require drivers to give extra room to stopped emergency vehicles.
Section 304.022
of Missouri’s traffic code requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency or service vehicle with lights lit to:
  • Vacate the lane closest to the emergency or service vehicle if possible, or
  • Slow down to a speed that is safe for the road conditions
Violation of this section of Missouri law is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $2,000 and up to one year in prison. In addition, two points will be added to your Missouri driving record. 

Missouri car accident laws

No matter how closely you follow Missouri’s driving laws, and how carefully you drive in general, you could still wind up in a traffic accident. Missouri has laws in place governing
what to do after an accident
as well.
Of course, your first concern after an accident should be everyone’s safety. Even if it’s just a minor fender-bender, all drivers are required to stop after an accident to assess both injuries and damages.
If your vehicle is obstructing traffic, try to move it to a safe place, if possible. Call 911 to report the crash and get assistance for any injured parties.
While waiting for first-responders, this is a great time to exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. Be prepared to give and collect the following information:
  • Your full name and address
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • The name of your liability insurance company 
Missouri law requires that you report an accident to the police within 30 days if any of the following is true: 
  • Someone was injured or died
  • Property damages exceeds $500
  • Your insurance company requires a police report
  • You can’t contact the owner of a parked vehicle that was damaged.
Even if your accident doesn’t meet any of these criteria, you’ll still be required to report it to the Missouri Driver License Bureau within one year, using
Form 1140
Leaving the scene of an accident in Missouri is a serious crime that comes with serious consequences—especially if injuries are involved. Even without injuries, you’ll be looking at fines of up to $2,000 and possible jail time if you fail to stop at the scene of an accident, whether you caused it or not. 
Leaving the scene (first offense)
Class A misdemeanor: fine of up to $2,000, plus up to 1 year in jail
Leaving the scene, second offense, or if physical injury or damage in excess of $1,000 was caused on first offense.
Class E felony: Fines of up to $10,000 and up to 1 year in county jail or up to 4 years in state prison 
Leaving the scene of an accident that results in death
Class D felony: Fines up to $10,000, and 2 to 7 years in state prison, followed by up to 5 years probation.
If you crash into a parked car, you’re required to leave your contact information and the circumstances of the accident for the vehicle’s owner. Failure to do so is considered leaving the scene and subject to the same penalties as detailed above.

Missouri DUI laws

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
is a serious offense in every state, but each state has its own guidelines for what constitutes intoxication. In Missouri, a driver over the age of 21 cannot have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Rules for commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21 are even more strict when it comes to BAC.
Missouri DUI laws
are strict, and the fines and penalties are steep. A DUI conviction will remain on your driving and criminal records for 10 years, and even the first offense will result in a license suspension of at least 30 days and up to $1,000 in fines. Plus, your annual insurance premium will skyrocket.
Here’s how Missouri’s DUI laws break down the penalties for adult offenders:
DUI/DWI (1st offense)
Fines up to $1,000, up to 6 months in jail, and license suspended for 30 days and restricted for 60 days
DUI/DWI (2nd offense)
Fines up to $2,000, up to one year in state prison, and license revocation for one year
DUI/DWI (3rd and subsequent offenses)
Fines up to $10,000, up to 10 years in state prison, and license revoked for 10 years
DUI/DWI with a passenger under 17 years old
Class C felony: fines up to $10,000, and 3 to 10 years in state prison
DUI/DWI resulting in accident with or without any injury
Class E felony: Fines of up to $10,000 and 1 year in jail or up to 4 years in state prison 
DUI/DWI resulting in serious physical injury
Class D felony: Fines up to $10,000, and 2 to 7 years in state prison
DUI/DWI resulting in a fatality or an injury to a first responder
Class C felony: Fines up to $10,000 and 3 to 10 years in state prison
DUI/DWI resulting in death of a first responder
Class B felony: 5 to 15 years in prison
DUI/DWI after previous Class B felony DUI conviction
Class A felony: 10 to 30 years in prison
Penalties for minors convicted of DUI are less severe as long as the driver’s BAC is below 0.08%. If the driver’s BAC is above 0.08%, they will likely be charged as an adult and face the standard DUI penalties outlined above.
Underage DUI/DWI (1st offense)
30-day license suspension followed by 60 days with an ignition interlock device (IID)
Underage DUI/DWI (2nd offense)
1-year license suspension followed by 60 days with an IID
Underage DUI/DWI (3rd offense) 
License suspension up to 10 years

Missouri distracted driving laws

Missouri is one of only two states without a comprehensive law against
texting and driving
. In the Show Me State, drivers under 21 years of age and commercial truck drivers can be fined $200 for texting while driving, and the offense will add two points to their license. Drivers over 21 can be charged with careless and imprudent driving for texting behind the wheel, though. 
Distracted driving extends to more than just texting and driving, though. The Missouri Driver Handbook categorizes three types of driving distractions:
  • Visual distractions that take your eyes off the road
  • Manual distractions that take your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive distractions that take your mind away from driving 
Drivers are urged to take note of their driving and refocus their attention if they find they’ve become distracted, but there are no laws against being distracted while driving. But before you start imagining Missouri as the reckless driving capital of the U.S., remember that distracted driving is classified under “careless and imprudent driving”—
Missouri’s version of reckless driving
—and carries serious consequences.
Common examples of careless driving in Missouri include:
  • Excessive speeding
  • Driving too slowly
  • Passing illegally
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Driving while distracted
These are just the most common examples, but since texting and driving does constitute driving while distracted, the practice is technically illegal in Missouri. In fact, careless and imprudent driving convictions are accompanied by serious penalties, such as:
  • Class B misdemeanor charge
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Up to 6 months in county jail
And that’s assuming your careless driving doesn’t cause an accident. If it does, you’ll be looking at a Class A misdemeanor, and both your fines and potential jail time will double. Whether an accident is involved or not, you’ll also incur four points on your driving record.

Missouri seatbelt laws

Finally, we come to one of the most basic types of traffic laws: seatbelt laws. In Missouri, front-seat passengers and drivers are required to wear a seatbelt whenever the vehicle is in motion. But as with most laws, there’s a bit of nuance where seatbelts are concerned, so let’s break this down a bit.
First, let’s see who must be secured in their seat and how:
  • Everyone riding in the front seat in a passenger vehicle must wear seat belts
  • Children ages 8 through 15 riding in any seat of any vehicle must wear seat belts
  • Anyone under 18 years of age operating or riding in trucks must wear seat belts
  • Children under 4 or who weigh less than 40 pounds, riding in any type vehicle, must be secured in an approved child safety seat.
  • Children between the ages of 4 and 8, who are less than 80 pounds or less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall, must be secured in an appropriate child restraint or booster seat.
In Missouri, the driver is held responsible for anyone under 16 years of age riding in their vehicle. Passengers over 16 are responsible for themselves. The penalty for breaking Missouri seat belt laws is a $10 fine plus court costs, and the driver will be responsible for the fine if the person breaking the law was a passenger under 16.
Breaking the Missouri seat belt law is a primary offense, which means you can be pulled over for it. However, it’s not considered a moving violation, so an infraction won’t add points to your record.
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How to save on auto insurance in Missouri

The first step to avoiding traffic tickets and fines in Missouri is knowing the traffic laws. But even the best drivers make mistakes sometimes, and those mistakes can wind up costing you. Traffic tickets can not only result in immediate costs, like fines and court fees, but they can also carry ongoing repercussions when it comes to your
car insurance
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driving record
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No. Driving over the speed limit is illegal at all times in Missouri. If you have to break the speed limit to pass, then it’s not safe to pass.
Missouri’s DUI laws are pretty strict, with mandatory fines and possible jail time even for first convictions.
A DUI stays on your driving and criminal record for at least 10 years in Missouri.
Not technically. Eating while driving isn’t, itself, illegal, but it could lead to what’s considered careless and imprudent driving in Missouri, which is illegal. If you’re hungry, best pull over to grab a snack rather than risk the C&I citation.
No—but depending on the circumstances you could be charged with indecent exposure.
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