Missouri's distracted driving law (called "Siddens Bening Hands Free Law") went into effect in 2023. The law broadly prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices and several other distracting uses of electronics while driving. This article details the law's restrictions and explains the penalties for distracted driving tickets.
Missouri's distracted driving law prohibits all drivers from:
Missouri's distracted driving law contains many exceptions. These exceptions permit drivers to use electronic devices:
Also, the distracted driver restrictions don't apply to law enforcement, fire department officials, and ambulance personnel performing official duties.
Missouri's distracted driving law is fairly comprehensive in what it prohibits. However, police might face difficulties enforcing the law because the Legislature made distracted driving a "secondary violation." Police can't stop drivers for secondary violations. To ticket a driver for distracted driving, police must have some other reason for the stop such as speeding or stop sign violations (both of which are "primary violations").
By making distracted driving a secondary violation, the Legislature definitely removed some of the legislation's teeth.
A distracted driving violation is an infraction and is considered a moving violation. The penalties for a violation depend on the circumstances.
A standard distracted driving violation carries:
A conviction will generally result in two traffic violation points being assessed to the motorist's driving record.
For violations that occur in school or construction zones, the maximum fine is $500.
Distracted driving violations involving accidents carry more serious penalties.
Distracted driving involving property damage. When an accident involves just property damage of more than $5,000, the distracted driving offense is a class D misdemeanor. A conviction carries up to $500 in fines. The conviction can also result in four traffic violation points.
Distracted driving causing serious injuries. Distracted driving violations involving serious injuries are class B misdemeanors. A conviction carries up to $1,000 in fines and a maximum of six months in jail. The conviction can also result in four traffic violation points.
Distracted driving causing deaths. Where a distracted driving offense leads to the death of another person, the driver is looking at a class D felony, up to seven years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. A felony conviction will also result in 12 traffic violation points.