New Missouri laws affect drivers, sexual offenses

Several new laws regarding vehicle operation, emergency workers, sexual offenses as well as child abuse and neglect go into effect Wednesday.

Among the changes are:

• Active emergency zone: The law increases the penalty for a moving violation or traffic offense occurring within an active emergency zone. The fine for the first moving violation or traffic offense within the emergency zone is $35 in addition to any other fine authorized by law. A second or subsequent offense carries a fine of $75 in addition to any other fine. The bill makes it a Class C misdemeanor to pass another vehicle in an active emergency zone, and a person who pleads guilty to or is convicted of a speeding or passing violation must be assessed a fine of $250 for a first offense and $300 for any subsequent offense in addition to any other fine authorized by law.

The law also creates the offense of endangerment of an emergency responder. A violation occurs if the person: exceeds the posted speed limit by 15 mph or more; passes another vehicle in the emergency zone; fails to stop for a flagman, an emergency responder or traffic control signal in the emergency zone; drives through or around an active emergency zone via any lane that is not for motorists; physically assaults, threatens or attempts to assault an emergency responder with a motor vehicle or other instrument; or intentionally strikes or moves a barrel, barrier, sign or other device for a reason other than to avoid an obstacle, emergency or to protect the health and safety of another person.

When injury or death does not result, a person who pleads guilty to, or is convicted of, endangering an emergency responder is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and assessed four points to his or her license.

If the death or injury of an emergency responder results, the person commits aggravated endangerment of an emergency responder and is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 if a responder is injured, and $10,000 if death resulted and 12 points will be assessed to his or her license.

• Use of ATVs in municipalities: The law allows a municipality to adopt an ordinance or resolution that allows all-terrain vehicles or utility vehicles to operate on the streets and highways under its jurisdiction. The person operating an all-terrain or utility vehicle must maintain proof of financial responsibility or maintain any other insurance policy providing equivalent liability coverage for an all-terrain vehicle.

• Catalytic converters: Currently, scrap dealers must keep documentation for any transaction involving certain metals. The bill adds catalytic converters to the types of metal requiring documentation. Records for transactions involving catalytic converters must be kept regardless of the dollar value of the scrap.

• Sexual offenses: In its main provisions, the law: renames the crime of forcible rape to rape in the first degree and specifies that a person commits the crime if he or she has sexual intercourse with an individual who is incapacitated, incapable of consent or lacks the capacity to consent, or by the use of forcible compulsion; renames the crime of forcible sodomy to sodomy in the first degree and specifies that a person commits the offense if he or she has deviate sexual intercourse with another person who is incapacitated, incapable of consent, or lacks the capacity to consent, or by the use of forcible compulsion; renames the crime of sexual assault to rape in the second degree; renames the crime of deviate sexual assault to sodomy in the second degree; renames the crime of sexual abuse to sexual abuse in the first degree and specifies that a person commits the offense if he or she subjects another person to sexual contact when that person is incapacitated, incapable of consent, or lacks the capacity to consent, or by the use of forcible compulsion; renames the crime of sexual misconduct in the second degree to sexual misconduct in the first degree; renames the crime of sexual misconduct in the third degree to sexual misconduct in the second degree.

• Motor vehicle insurance policies: The law allows the insurance identification card that contains proof of insurance information for a motor vehicle to be produced in a paper or an electronic format. Acceptable electronic forms include the display of electronic images on a cellular phone or any other type of portable electronic device.

• Child abuse and neglect: In its main provisions, the law addresses reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect. It specifies that the offense of abuse or neglect of a child is a Class A felony if the child dies as a result of injuries sustained from chargeable conduct. It also requires the Department of Public Safety to establish rules regarding the reimbursement of the costs of forensic examinations for children younger than 14 years of age, including establishing conditions and definitions for emergency and non-emergency forensic exams, and may by rule establish additional qualifications for appropriate medical providers performing non-emergency forensic exams. The department must provide reimbursement regardless of whether or not the findings indicate that the child was abused.

The bill also allows the department of public safety to establish additional qualifications for any appropriate medical provider performing any non-emergency forensic evaluation of a child younger than 14 years of age.

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