Fight Traffic Ticket in Colorado
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If you recently received a CO traffic ticket AND have the means to prove your innocence, keep reading to learn about fighting your Colorado citation in court.
Plead Not Guilty to Your CO Ticket
The first step to contesting your CO traffic ticket is pleading “not guilty" to the charges either:
- In person.
- By mail.
You must notify the court (listed on your ticket) of your decision ON OR BEFORE the arraignment date printed on your citation. If you lost your ticket, read our guide on lost CO citations for assistance.
After receiving your plea, the court will assign you a date to return for a:
- Final hearing (if contesting an infraction).
- Infractions include less-serious traffic violations that only require fine payments upon conviction.
- Pre-trial conference (if fighting a traffic offense).
- Traffic offenses are categorized as misdemeanors and are more serious than infractions. If convicted, you could face fines and/or jail time.
Keep track of this return date! If you miss your scheduled court date, the court could issue a warrant for your arrest AND automatically find you guilty of the traffic charges.
If you need to reschedule your court date or still have questions about entering a “not guilty" plea, contact the CO municipal or county court handling your case.
What It Means to Plead Not Guilty
When you plead “not guilty,” you're using your legal right to make a case for your innocence before a Colorado judge. You're also verifying that you:
- Will make the time commitment to appear in court, possibly on multiple occasions.
- Know you could face incarceration if convicted of a serious crime like DUI or DWAI.
- Understand points could be added to your CO driving record.
If you're still on the fence about entering a “not guilty” plea, check out our When to Fight a Traffic Ticket page for more guidance.
Fight Your Traffic Ticket in CO Court
If you're facing relatively serious and/or multiple charges, you may want to hire a traffic ticket lawyer BEFORE heading to court. If you choose to represent yourself, you should be well-versed in the rules and procedures of Colorado traffic court.
You may be eligible for court-appointed counsel if:
- A “guilty” verdict could result in imprisonment.
- You can prove indigence and the lack of finances to hire an attorney on your own.
To learn more about circumstances that could warrant hiring representation, head over to our guide to When to Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer.
The court will only assign you a pre-trial conference date if you've been charged with a traffic offense.
At the pre-trial conference, you (or your lawyer) and a CO district attorney will attempt to work out a settlement, which typically requires:
- Changing your plea to guilty.
- Lessening the penalties for your charges.
The greatest benefit of reaching a settlement is that you can avoid the time and hassle associated with going to trial. However, if you can't come to an agreeable settlement, the court will assign you a date to return for a final hearing.
DID YOU KNOW: Changing your plea to guilty can raise your auto insurance rates!
Before accepting a settlement at your pre-trial conference, make sure you know how traffic convictions influence how much you pay for car insurance.
At your final hearing, you'll go to trial before a Colorado judge or jury. You can only request trial before a jury if you're contesting a traffic offense (infraction cases are pleaded before judges only).
In general, the final hearing will follow this process:
- Opening arguments from both the CO district attorney and you (or your lawyer).
- Presentation of:
- Witness cross-examinations and/or rebuttals.
- Closing arguments.
- Verdict Issued by judge or jury.
- If you're found guilty, the judge will then state your punishment.
To appeal a conviction, you have 14 days from the judgment date to submit the following to the Colorado county or municipal court in charge of your case:
- Notice of Appeal (Form 4).
- Appeal bond.
- Could include the penalizing fines owed AND separate appeal filing fees.
For more information on your final hearing and filing an appeal, contact the county or municipal court handling your traffic case.
Outcomes of Fighting Your CO Citation
The verdict you receive will determine whether the outcomes of fighting your traffic ticket have a long-lasting positive OR negative influence on your future.
If the judge or jury finds you guilty, the seriousness of your charges will determine which of the following penalties you could face:
- Additional points on your CO driving record.
- Mandatory enrollment in a defensive driving course.
- Community service.
NOTE: Federal law requires commercial drivers to notify their employer of ANY traffic violations (except parking citations) within 30 days of the conviction date. For out-of-state non-parking convictions you must notify the CO Division of Motor Vehicles office within 30 days.
If a guilty verdict added points to your driving record, you could be in danger of losing your Colorado driver's license. Take the time to enroll in a CO defensive driving course! Successful completion MAY be able to remove points from your record, ensuring your driving privileges are safe.
Not Guilty Verdict
If the Colorado judge or jury finds you not guilty of the charges, you can look forward to:
- No fines or penalties to endure.
- Dismissal of all charges.
- No extra points on your record.
- Auto insurance rates remaining the same.
Once you've received a verdict, it's important to check the accuracy of your CO driving record. Incorrect information on your record could lead to unwarranted stress, penalties, and fines in the future.