Visitor Question

Am I opening myself to a lawsuit by paying a ticket for driving with my lights off?

Submitted By: Deborah (Colorado Springs, CO)

I was driving home in the right lane at 10:30pm and was hit on the driver’s front side and rear left side. It was stated in the report that I did not have my lights on. The other person was given a ticket for the accident but I was also given one for not having my lights on. There was also a bystander witness that stated my lights were off.

But at the scene of the accident the lights were on and that was verified by my daughter who took pictures. The pics were taken before we were aware of the complaint that the lights were off.

If I pay this ticket to avoid court costs, “he said, she said”, can they come back and sue me because of this? Am I admitting guilt by paying the ticket?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Deborah,

YES. If you plead “guilty” and pay a fine, you ARE admitting you failed to have your lights on.

If you pay the ticket but enter a plea of “no contest” you ARE NOT admitting your lights were off. Even if you have to pay a fine or take a defensive driving course, as long as you either fight the ticket and are found “not guilty,” or plead “no contest” and receive a deferred sentence (sometimes called an ACOD – Adjourned in Contemplation Of Dismissal), or similar indicator of eventual dismissal, with or without a fine, you will not be admitting guilt.

Be cautious about fighting the ticket. If you go to trial and lose you won’t have the option of a deferred sentence or ACOD. If you try the case and lose you’ll be stuck with a conviction and a fine. The conviction can be used to prove you admitted guilt or were found guilty of driving with your lights off.

As long as you have insurance you probably won’t be sued. Contact your insurance company and explain what happened. Leave it up to your insurance company to sort the matter out. That’s what insurance companies are there for.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: April 24, 2013

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