Washington Court Records
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Washington
Washington allows law enforcement officers to issue traffic tickets, also known as citations, to violators of traffic rules within the state. The document will indicate the specific violation, the time and date of violation, driver and vehicle information, as well as fines or date of a court appearance. The consequences of getting a traffic ticket, even for minor violations, can be unpleasant, and many recipients often choose to fight the ticket rather than pay the fines. The judiciary conducts traffic trials for individuals who choose to fight under established rules and procedures.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a 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 or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in Washington?
It depends. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to resolving traffic tickets in Washington. Indeed, two traffic tickets received by the same individual around the same time are resolved differently. However, one method for determining whether fighting a ticket is worth it is to consider the legal and financial fallout. A good example is the insurance rate that increases exponentially with traffic violations. Another consideration is the strength of the case in court. If the violator is sure that they have a strong defense after careful examination and consulting a professional, fighting the ticket is worth considering.
Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Washington
There are three ways to fight a ticket in Washington—with each option having pros and cons. The good news is that Washington laws give traffic violators fifteen (15) days to decide per RCW 46.63.070.
Individuals who wish to pursue self-representation in a traffic ticket case must complete the portion of the citation requesting a hearing. The individual must then enclose it in a self-addressed stamped envelope and submit it in person or by mail to the court’s address specified on the notice. Upon receipt, the court shall notify the defendant of the time, place, and date of the hearing. The trial shall be no sooner than seven days from the date of the notice. In the meantime, the pro se defendant must prepare to argue the case in court and corroborate the plea with evidence and witnesses.
A person who lacks the knowledge or ability to articulate the case in court may consider hiring an attorney. While hiring an attorney may be more expensive than the ticket, legal representation can make a significant difference. An attorney is responsible for negotiating plea deals and filing an appeal—some things pro se defendants cannot do alone.
Another option in fighting a traffic ticket is using prepaid services. The internet offers services to help clients fight traffic tickets if such clients subscribe for an annual fee. The efficacy of these services is not guaranteed, and the clients may still have to pay the ticket in the end.
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Trial
Washington does not allow trial by declaration for traffic violators. A declaration lets the defendant submit a sworn statement and contest the ticket without appearing in court. A similar option for out-of-state violators is hiring a representing attorney to submit an affidavit of hardship explaining why the violator cannot be present during the trial. The affidavit also empowers the attorney to take action without restrictions. State residents cannot submit such an affidavit and may incur criminal and civil liabilities for failure to appear under RCW 46.20.289 and RCW 46.64.025.
The best way to fight a ticket without going to trial in Washington is to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor before the trial date. While the plea deal does not acquit the violator, it is possible to get the ticket changed or have the traffic ticket reduced.
How Do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in Washington?
The Department of Licencing (DOL) does not use a point system to assess Washington’s traffic violations. Thus, to get a traffic ticket reduced, request a mitigation hearing under RCW 46.63.070 (4). If successful, the presiding judge may reduce the penalty by up to half but will not acquit the individual of the violation. The individual may petition the court to set up a payment plan during the hearing. The presiding judge usually considers the violator’s ability to pay in granting this petition. Persons who demonstrate financial hardship are eligible for payment plans.
Can You Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in Washington?
Yes, but getting a speeding ticket dismissed in Washington is contingent upon several factors and technicalities. One of the grounds to file for dismissal of a ticket is clerical errors under IRLJ 2.1(b) that caused a violator to misinterpret an infraction. Likewise, if the police report reveals a dearth of information on the violation, a savvy attorney can move to have the ticket dismissed. Visual estimation or faulty equipment is also grounds to have a speeding ticket dismissed. Another ground is the absence of the issuing officer on the trial date or if the officer filed the ticker in the wrong jurisdiction per IRLJ 2.3. Another option is to apply for ticket deferral for up to one year per RCW 46.63.070.(5)(a) and LIRLJ 3.5. The choice is available once in seven (7) years and only applies to minor traffic infractions.
What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in Washington?
Without mincing words, a person who pleads guilty will have to pay the ticket and court fees. He or she will also incur statutory sanctions like license revocation and jail time. More importantly, the conviction remains on the individual’s criminal record, accessible to all and sundry under the Washington Public Records Act (PRA).
How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Washington
Considering the importance of an attorney in fighting or negotiating a ticket, one can conclude that it is best to seek the best professional available. Violators who wish to find a good lawyer should seek referrals from past clients and trusted sources.