As a defense attorney who handles traffic cases in Colorado, I am often asked to explain the effect of a guilty plea or guilty verdict at trial on a person’s insurance claims or civil case involving liability. The question is Traffic Trial or Plea Negotiation?
Colorado law does not allow a conviction through a guilty plea or conviction at trial to be used in a civil case. This is the law forbidding it:
§ 42-4-1713. Conviction record inadmissible in civil action – Except as provided in sections 42-2-201 to 42-2-208, no record of the conviction of any person for any violation of this article shall be admissible as evidence in any court in any civil action.
Also, while not all Colorado municipalities have adopted the Colorado Model Traffic Code, many have. The state code is mirrored in Colorado’s Model traffic code as MTC 1713:
MTC 1713 – Conviction record inadmissible in civil action – Except as provided in sections 42-2-201 to 42-2-208, C.R.S., no record of the conviction of any person for any violation of this Code shall be admissible as evidence in any court in any civil action.
Traffic Trial or Plea Negotiation: What does law this mean?
It means that your traffic conviction cannot be used in a civil case.
Things you say in your case CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU in any traffic trial!
While your guilty plea cannot be used against you, anything you say to the judge on the record CAN be used against you. Usually, in a guilty plea session, the judge will ask if you have anything the court needs to know before passing a sentence. Anything you say at that point is an admission that can be used against you.
If you go to trial, your testimony will also be an admission and prior sworn testimony that CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU.
Traffic Trial or Plea Negotiation: If you plead guilty to a charge and say nothing
If you plead guilty to the charge and say nothing, the law says that other than restitution, the conviction should not be able to be used in a civil case against you.
Traffic Trial or Plea Negotiation: Insurance may decide to use the conviction in the future
Most crashes do not involve civil cases. Insurance companies want to quickly settle the cases. As such, they will probably use the conviction in deciding what to do and who to pay. If they decide to pay, your insurance may go up.
Often, a plea agreement makes your risk lower when you have negotiated a plea to a charge that is unrelated to the cause of the crash.