Legal Question (Traffic - Not asking for advice)

This is probably a stupid question, but here we go:

First the backstory: On September 22, 2008 I was driving along a highway whose speed limit varies between 55 mph and 65 mph while listening to NPR covering the meltdown of the world economy. Being distracted (listening to Bernanke claiming that if something wasn’t done soon, there would not be an economy), I did not notice that the speed limit on the highway had dropped to 55 and that my speed had crept up to 78 mph in the previous section (I will regularly go 7-8 mph over the speed limit, which usually makes me one of the slower people on the road). Well and good, the police officer got me fair and square and I take full responsibility for my actions. When I arrived at the court (as I was required to for a speeding ticket of this magnitude), the DA automatically offered me a plea deal, dropping the penalty from the 6 point speeding ticket to a 3 point violation (don’t recall what is was) if I would spend a Saturday in a driving class. Being in my 40s with no tickets on my record since the early 1990s and no plans to get another ticket anytime soon, I declined and just paid the ticket and went on my way not thinking about the ramifications of my action.

Well, here I am 1.5 years later and my umbrella policy is being dropped by my insurance provider due to this speeding ticket (I guess that speeding 20+ over the limit is of the same magnitude as drunk driving or reckless driving in the eyes of insurance companies). Having some experience previously with the litigious nature of some of my fellow citizens, I feel uncomfortable not having an umbrella policy, so I decided to shop around for a new provider. Well, it seems my options are limited; while I believe I will find an insurer that will cover me, most insurance companies will not underwrite the policy due to the speeding ticket. I do admit (as I did in court) that I was speeding and I take responsibility for my actions, but if I had accepted the plea deal I would be paying significantly less on my auto insurance and would still have an umbrella policy. While I care about the money, I knew that a potential result of my speeding would be a rate increase and I was resigned to it. That said, I never expected that I would lose coverage due to the ticket and not be able to find coverage.

So now we get to my (probably stupid) question: Is there anything I can do about this? Is there any way to retroactively accept the plea or get the speeding ticket expunged from my otherwise spotless driving record, or do I just have to wait for another 2 years until it falls of my record?
And for those who find my question boring: do you think I am just a whiner who deserved what I got and should just shut up?


Contact the D.A.'s office. Bear in mind you’re asking for a favor, one they can legitimately give – but also legitimately decline to give. Ask to have the conviction voided and the substitute plea put in place. Agree to any additional fines this might entail – having your coverage in place is worth it.

How this will probably work, depending on your jurisdiction, is that you will appear in court, in person, and request (either in person or through your lawyer), “Your honor, I request [or 'my client requests”] that my conviction for Sec. 1138(a) [or whatever the 6-point violation was] be vacated, and that I instead be charged with and permitted to plead guilty to Sec. 947©" [or whatever the 3-point violation offered as a plea bargain was]. If your lawyer enters the petition, the judge will ask you a couple of questions to assure you know what you’re doing and its consequences. He will then ask the D.A. who will agree to the vacation of the conviction and the substituted plea. The judge will then so order, ask for your plea to the amended charge (guilty of course) and he will levy a fine against you, presumably applying the fine paid previously asgainst the new fine.

This may or may not accomplish the end you seek, since the conviction for the 6-point violation was in fact on your record for a year and a half. But IMO it’s worth the try.

IANAL, this is not legal advice, and there may be sound reasons not to do it, reither generally or in your particular jurisdiction. Let me invoke the name of [del]Beetlejuice[/del] Elendil’s Heir as a judge who presumably has dealt with this sort of substituted plea before and could speak more meaningfully to it.

So 1.5 years after the fact your insurance company decides to drop you? :eek: Let me guess … you’re covered by GEICO, ain’t ya? GEICO is reknowned nationwide for dropping (declining to renew policies of) customers that get speeding tickets, even when said customers have no accidents or serious traffic offenses like drunk driving.

Regardless of the company, do you really want to maintain a policy with a company that does business in such a manner? I’d say to heck with them and go shopping. Based on my own experience with State Farm, and the fact that they did not unduly punish me for having 2 accidents and a speeding ticket in a 3 year period, I’d recommend them first. My rates went up for a couple years, then after I was accident / ticket free for a while they went back down again. :wink:

But to the core of your question … I wouldn’t call ya a whiner, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and this subject may be of interest to other folk. Be that as it may, the answer to your main query depends on the jurisdiction in which you were nailed. Obviously you ain’t in California … here in Cali you lose your license at 3 points so as you seem to still be driving after 6 points indicates you’re from some other state which I did not see specified in your original post. The other guy who suggested calling the DA seems to have given reasonable advice, but I would caveat that with this: Is it really worth the effort? See above regarding insurance companies for my thoughts on that theme.

NOW? No. Then? Yes, but you’re way too late. NY state, I’ve gotten 4 speeding tickets, over the years, got out of 2, entirely, and the other 2 I got reduced. By NYS standards, and my experiences, the “offer” the DA gave you was bullshit, intended for the “rubes” who didn’t know anything about “speeding ticket law”. If you’d gotten your tickets in NY, and talked with me at the time, something could have been done. Now? No, sorry…

Yes, Geico is notorious for this.

Well, different states have different point systems, in CA you would not get 6 points for anything, iirc. We do need to know your State.

How long do traffic violations stay on you record in your state? If it’s two, then wait it out.

While the poster who suggested contacting the DA is correct in that the DA could action your request, I fail to see any reason at all why any DA worth their salt would. The idea of a plea bargain is that you plead guilty to a lesser charge in lieu of taking your chances at court. By rejecting the plea bargain, you’re essentially saying “thanks for the great offer, but I think I have a good chance to argue and win this one.” Why you rejected it in the first place is beyond me, given your admission to the incident.

Well, since you asked, yes.

Polycarp, thank you for the response, I appreciate it.

Actually, Travelers. The only thing they are dropping is the umbrella policy.

Three years. Only 1.5 left, so I will probably just wait it out even though I found Polycarp’s response hopeful.

The reason I asked the question is that I am sure the DA and the judge in Boulder county, CO did not want me to lose my insurance coverage when they imposed the penalty. So I thought there might be a good chance of them vacating the conviction.

Maybe they would do it so I would not lose the insurance coverage; I am sure that officials in the county appreciate it when the people in their county are insured. Anyway, I tend to agree with you though, they are incredibly busy people and they probably would not go through the hassle at this stage in the game.

The reason I rejected the offer, which again was offered to me automatically, was my work schedule. I was working a full time job and had a lucrative consulting job on the weekends. The plea bargain, which included a 1 day defensive driving class on Saturday, was effectively a $1000 dollar fine when I took the lost revenue into account.

Anyway, enough whining by me… Thanks for the input.

I’m pretty sure that is not their concern in the least.

Do judges and DAs normally take up valuable court time to amend a conviction on a 1.5 year old traffic offense?

And, as another poster said, isn’t that the breaks that can go against you when you refuse a plea deal?

Did I understand the OP to proceed to trial on the matter or simply plead guilty to the HIGHER offense?

Methinks most of you don’t know what whining means. Hint: it does not include asking questions about how to best deal with an unfavorable situation.

I don’t see why anyone should accept a situation that they believe unfair without trying every possible way to rectify the situation. It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks it is perfectly fair.