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Washington Court Records

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What are Washington Traffic Tickets?

The Washington Motor Vehicle Code authorizes the Washington State Patrol officers to enforce traffic laws and issue traffic tickets to offending road users. These tickets are official notices and typically contain information regarding the driver, the vehicle involved, the specific offenses, details of its severity, and associated penalties or fines. On the other hand, the Department of Licensing (DOL) is the official recorder of traffic penalties against the violator’s driving record.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites make searching for public documents less complicated, and as they are not limited by geographic location, they are handy when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record of the person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or where the offense occurred.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Does a Traffic Citation Mean?

A traffic citation, known as a traffic ticket, is an official document indicating that the recipient has violated traffic laws within a jurisdiction. Patrol officers issue citations on an offense basis. Depending on the severity of the traffic violation, the consequence of receiving a ticket could be appearing in court or paying stipulated fines.

How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Washington?

Upon receiving a ticket in Washington, the offender must respond by paying the fines or appearing in court on the date indicated on the ticket. Regardless, a traffic violator must respond to a traffic ticket within 15 days from the issue date. Nevertheless, bear in mind that choosing to pay a traffic ticket is equivalent to an admission of guilt and that the offender has opted to waive their right to challenge the traffic ticket in court.

Traffic cases are typically heard at municipal courts in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred, and tickets are paid to the court in person, by phone, mail or online. The offender must contact the court to determine which of these methods is available, but most courts offer in-person payment options during business hours. For example, to pay a traffic ticket in Seattle by mail, the violator must mail a personal check, cashier’s check, or money order to:

Seattle Municipal Court

P. O. Box C–34109

Seattle, WA 98124–1109

Phone: (206) 233–7000

If the violator is unable to pay the full fine at once, the court may set up a payment plan. However, the offender must contact the court to find out if this option is available.

Furthermore, paying a ticket may attract additional penalties, such as adding points to the offender’s driving record. This often translates to increased auto insurance rates for the offending driver.

Can You Pay Washington Traffic Tickets Online?

Yes, Washington traffic tickets are payable online if the local court provides such payment services on their specific websites. For example, Clark County District Court allows online payment of traffic tickets on its website. The Seattle Municipal Court also allows online payment of traffic tickets.

Likewise, offenders may respond to traffic citations and summons online or contest traffic tickets using the electronic systems operated by local traffic courts. For example, Seattle Municipal Court provides systematic instructions for disputing traffic tickets. Also, certain third-party service providers resolve or dispute tickets on behalf of clients. Typically, this service is subscription-based, and users have to provide relevant information to find and resolve or dispute the ticket. In either case, the details required often include the violator’s full name, the jurisdiction of the violation, the citation number of the ticket, case number, court date, date of offense, and the driver’s license number.

How do I Pay a Ticket Online in Washington?

Electronic payment for traffic tickets depends on the local courthouse. Thus, to pay online, the offender must search for the official website for the court stated on the ticket. The offender may refer to the ticket or citation for information regarding the court where payments should be made. For example, to pay a ticket online in Seattle:

  • Visit the online payment portal
  • Provide the ticket or citation number
  • Enter the Credit or Debit card details

What is the Washington Traffic Ticketing System?

The Department of Licensing does not use a point system to track and determine penalties for traffic violations in Washington. However, the DOL records each violation in the individual’s driving record. If a motorist accumulates six moving violations within 12 months, the Department of Licensing will suspend the offender’s driver’s license for 60 days. Subsequent violations attract more severe penalties.

Typically, the most common penalties are license suspension and revocation. In this case, the DOL prohibits the individual from driving until they have satisfied specific requirements. Usually, the DOL places the driver’s license on probation if the driver accumulates four moving violations in 12 months or five moving violations in 24 months.

In the case of a revocation or suspension, the offender must satisfy reinstatement requirements, after the period of suspension or revocation. These requirements are on a case-by-case basis and depend on the specific driver. The DOL provides systematic instructions to reinstating a driver’s license on this web page. Depending on the case, the driver may have to:

  • Serve the entire suspension
  • Complete a remedial driving course
  • Provide a certificate of insurance
  • Pay a reinstatement fee
  • Retake a driver license exam

How Do I Know if I Have a Traffic Ticket in Washington?

Usually, Washington drivers who have been issued a ticket will be served in person or by mail. However, if an offender misses this mail or ignores it, the court shall issue a supplemental summons or warrant. To know if you have a pending ticket, you must obtain your driving record on this web page. This request can be made online, in person, or by mail.

A typical driving record will contain your complete driving history, including ticket and citation history. Typically, the requester must provide the driver’s date of birth, license number, and the last four digits of their social security number. The payment of the required fee validates a request or the order will not be processed.

Visit the nearest Department of Licensing in person to obtain your driving record or complete a record request form for mail requests. The requester must then attach a valid photo I. D. with the form and mail it in a self-addressed stamped envelope. The non-refundable service fee is $13.00 for each record. The fee is payable through a check or money order addressed to the Department of Licencing. Direct mail requests to:

Driver Records Division

Department of Licensing

P. O. Box 3907

Seattle, WA 98124–3907

Likewise, the DOL allows interested parties to view the status of a driver’s license on this portal. While this option is free, the viewer may not copy or use the information accessed. Independent service providers allow interested parties to view traffic tickets. This option is especially useful when searching for multiple traffic tickets in different jurisdictions.

How Can I Find a Lost Traffic Ticket in Washington?

Interested individuals may find lost traffic tickets by contacting the Municipal or District Court in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. Generally, the requester must provide a traffic ticket number, court docket number, or subject’s full name to facilitate the search. Thus, offenders must memorize or make personal records of the citation number, presiding court, the issuing officer’s name, and the specific violations or charges.

How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your Record in Washington?

According to the Washington Department of Licensing, a traffic violation remains on a driving record for five years from the date of the final release. However, records of certain traffic offenses stay on a driver’s record for ten years or life if the violation is a felony or the individual is a repeat offender.

Is a Summon Worse Than a Ticket in Washington?

It depends. Generally, while a ticket can be resolved by making a payment, a court summons often requires that the recipient is at a local court for a hearing. Summons are usually issued after the violator received consecutive tickets within a short time, failed to resolve a ticket, or committed a serious traffic offense. Getting a summons may also mean additional legal costs or requirements, lost productive time, and other unsavory penalties.

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