Topic:
TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS;
Location:
TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


The Connecticut General Assembly

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH




October 27, 1994 94-R-0969

TO:

FROM: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

RE: Speeding Tickets

You asked whether it would be feasible to add a box with the word "no contest" on a speeding ticket.

Connecticut, in essence, already has such a system. Under CGS 51-164(b) those ticketed for most speeding offenses can pay their fine by mail to the centralized infractions bureau. By statute, such a payment is considered to be a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) and is inadmissible in any proceeding, civil or criminal, to establish the conduct of the person mailing the payment and the commissioner of motor vehicles may not assess points against the person's license.

Enclosed is a copy of the ticket used for most speeding offenses. The second page explains that voluntarily paying the fine is automatically considered to be a plea of no contest.

This mail-in system applies to those arrested for the following categories of speeding offenses:

1. going faster than 55 mph on an interstate expressway but not over 70 mph,

2. going faster than 70 mph on an interstate expressway but not faster than 85 mph,

3. going faster than 55 mph on any road other than an interstate expressway but not more than 60 mph.

The only other speeding offense under our statutes is driving more than 60 mph but not over 85 mph on any road other than an interstate expressway. Such individuals are given a misdemeanor summons instead of an infractions ticket, cannot pay their fine by mail, and must appear in court according to Captain Marge Kolpa of the Connecticut State Police Department. But such individuals may plead no contest to the charge once they appear in court, according to assistant state's attorney Peter Soulsby, who advised us that any defendant appearing in court has the option of pleading no contest to the charge.

People who drive over 85 mph commit the offense of reckless driving (CGS 19-222). Those who drive over the posted speed limit, but not above 55 mph, commit offenses other than speeding.

It should be noted that pleading no contest to a speeding charge does not give the defendant total protection from civil sanctions. Connecticut General Statutes 19-111b(b) directs the motor vehicles commissioner to suspend the license of a driver who is arrested four or more times during a two year period where the arrests result in a conviction. Although this statute is somewhat ambiguous in that those who are given infraction tickets or misdemeanor summons for speeding are not “arrested” in the conventional sense of the word (being detained and taken into custody). The commissioner of motor vehicles has interpreted this law as requiring suspensions for speeding tickets and summons where the person pays the fine, according to John Yacavone, chief of the Legal Services Division of the Department of Motor Vehicles. So far this year, around 300 motorists have suffered a license suspension under this statute.

GC:pa