What's the plea bargain process for traffic offenses?
August 21, 2011 8:00 PM   Subscribe

I recently got a ticket for careless driving and I have to appear in court soon. Can somebody explain the plea bargain process and offer some clarification for me?

YANML, this isn't legal advice, etc...

I know I'll be offered a deal before appearing in front of the judge, but I don't know anything about what that actually entails. If I'm offered a fine and points on my license, can I barter? How? At this point, I'm not going to get a lawyer. What should I definitely know before I go to court? What are some tips for getting the best deal possible for myself?

Some additional info:

I'm in Colorado.

The other driver was taken to the hospital on complaint of an injury. This bumps up the severity of the ticket (and my fine). Is simply getting checked out at a hospital enough to slap me with "careless driving resulting in injury", or does somebody have to actually be hurt?

The case against me seems weak. I was going less than 10 miles an hour at the time, and the cop who wrote the ticket wasn't present when the accident occurred. The official report seems to split blame equally between me and the other driver.

I don't know how important this is, but the witness accounts (coming from the other driver and myself) have some typos that make that section of the report kind of meaningless (mislabeling of lanes, typing left instead of right, etc.). Would that be grounds to toss the whole thing?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAL. In my experience (dealing with a speeding ticket in a school zone, which isn't the same thing, obviously), the judge offers the non-lawyered people a deal. In my case, it was for a big fine (larger than normal) and probation, but the ticket staying off our records. I ran into a family friend at the court house (representing someone else) who acted as my lawyer for the few minutes necessary, so my fine was a couple hundred dollars or so less.

That said, I don't think it's really possible to negotiate without a lawyer. No one at the court house did. If it is, I'd have no idea how.

Also, in my experience, you either take the plea or you fight the ticket. If you fight the ticket and lose, there's no plea bargain to fall back on. So, fighting it would be somewhat of a gamble.

Again, I have no legal expertise and very little personal experience, so take this with a big grain of salt!
posted by kylej at 10:07 PM on August 21, 2011

IANAL TINLA. I have negotiated pleas several times and went to trial once as my own attorney. Two of the pleas were done over the phone. The ADA asked what I was willing to plea to and I replied a small fine and no points. She suggested a $200 fine and no points. I asked what the fine was for my original infraction if I were to lose at trial. She said $225. I said I would accept $175 and no points. She agreed but reminded me there were $50 in some surcharge. I wrote them a check. Another time they offered me a better deal than I expected so I accepted. The trial, I lost, but the judge liked my attempt as a non lawyer even upholding two objections on my part. He gave me the minimum amount he was able under the statute. It is my feeling that they want your money more than your points. If they give you points ask to get an amount that can be eliminated by going to traffic school. Then go and your insurance will not be affected.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:22 PM on August 21, 2011

I went to court in Denver. The adjudicator (judges are elected) said the DA has offered to change the ticket to a 1 point 'defective headlights' ticket. If you want to know for sure, go to a hearing prior to your court date and watch what happens.
posted by CodeMonkey at 6:29 AM on August 22, 2011

« Older Bathroom issue after sex, but was it fromt he sex...   |   Looking for paths to skate on in Northshore MA Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.