During the 1980s, the legislature decriminalized many minor traffic violations and made traffic tickets civil matters. While a traffic ticket may be considered a minor violation of the law, a ticket can be expensive, cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket or may cost you your job.
State law requires the court to report a committed traffic ticket to the Department of Licensing. The government has an attorney working for them. You need an experienced attorney working on your behalf. At the Seattle law firm of JRC Practice, PLLC, we defend clients from the civil and criminal penalties associated with traffic violations.
What Do I Do If I Receive A Traffic Ticket?
You have 15 days to respond to a traffic ticket if it was served on you at the time of the infraction or 18 days to respond if the ticket was served on you through the mail.
There are three boxes on your ticket, one of which you must check before mailing your ticket back to the court.
Box #1 states that you committed the violation and you are sending in the full payment.
Box #2 states that you agree that you committed the violation, but you want an opportunity to explain to the Judge why you committed the violation and you want to ask for a reduction of the fine.
Box #3 states that you did not commit the violation and you want an opportunity to contest the ticket. Check Box #3 and contest the ticket. You can always send in the full payment or request that the court reduce the fine if you change your mind.
Because a traffic ticket is a civil matter, your presence may be waived and, in most jurisdictions, one of our lawyers can appear on your behalf if you do not want (or cannot) appear in court.
How Will A Lawyer Help Me With My Traffic Ticket?
When you consult JRC Practice, PLLC, we will gather some basic information from you through a short phone call or via email. Next, a Notice of Appearance and Request for Discovery will be filed on your behalf. Once the discovery (the officer's report) is received, our attorney will review the officer's report looking for any errors.
If it doesn't look like we can protect your driving record by having the ticket dismissed, we may call the prosecuting attorney to negotiate a resolution of the case on your behalf. This may include a reduction to a lesser charge, a reduction to a non-moving violation or a dismissal of the ticket.
At the contested hearing, your attorney will make arguments and motions before a judge. The prosecuting attorney will then present the officer's report as evidence against you. Your attorney will then cross-exam any witnesses and present any evidence. Both the prosecutor and your attorney will then have an opportunity to make closing statements. Finally, the Judge will rule on the case.
You should know that the burden of proof in a civil matter is called "by a preponderance of the evidence" which essentially means, "is it more likely than not that you committed the traffic violation." It's a relaxed standard and has a low burden of proof for the prosecutor to prove its case against you. This is why you need an attorney working hard on your behalf.
The unique facts of your case will determine the outcome. Contact us immediately so we can determine how best to help you.
What If I Don't Respond To The Traffic Ticket?
Always respond. If the court receives no response from you, the court will find you guilty and order you to pay the fee listed on the ticket. The court may also assess a late fee against you.
The Department of Licensing is notified of your failure to respond and will suspend your driver's license. Driving on a suspended license is a criminal charge for which you can be arrested and face a penalty of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.
What Is A Deferred Finding?
The deferred finding statute, RCW 46.63.070(5), was created in 2004. It was intended by the legislature to create a uniform break for every Washington driver once every seven years. Depending on the court that has jurisdiction over your case, you may qualify for a deferred finding. The court may impose a probationary period where you are required to attend traffic school or not commit any traffic violations during a specified period of time (typically six months to a year). Or the court may simply enter the deferred finding and dismiss the ticket the day of the hearing.
What If I (Or Someone In My Family) Has An Intermediate License?
The legislature created the intermediate license statute (RCW 46.20.075) to improve highway safety by progressively developing and improving the skills of young drivers. The intermediate license statute incrementally brings young drivers to full adult driving status by imposing a number of strict requirements. The failure to follow these requirements can result in a ticket and loss of driving privilege.
If you or someone in your family is facing an intermediate license ticket, let us help you understand your options. Your initial consultation with one of our lawyers is free.
Reckless Driving And Racing In Washington
Reckless Driving under RCW 46.61.500 or Racing under RCW 46.61.530 are criminal charges for which you face up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine. Reckless driving is defined by statute as driving a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Racing is defined by statute as comparing speeds of vehicles and exceeding the speed limit.
A conviction will result in a 30-day license suspension by the Department of Licensing. If this is your third conviction for reckless driving or racing within the past two years, your license could be suspended for a full year. A conviction also requires that you file and maintain SR 22 insurance for three years.
JRC Practice, PLLC, Handles Many Types Of Traffic Tickets, Including:
RCW 46.61.050 - obedience to traffic control devices
RCW 46.61.055 - traffic control signal legend (red light)
RCW 46.61.060 - pedestrian control signals
RCW 46.61.065 - flashing signals
RCW 46.61.070 - lane direction control signals
RCW 46.61.100 - keep right except when passing, etc.
RCW 46.61.105 - passing vehicles proceeding in opposite directions
RCW 46.61.110 - overtaking on the left
RCW 46.61.115 - overtaking on the right
RCW 46.61.120 - limitations on overtaking on the left
RCW 46.61.125 - limitation on driving to left of center of roadway
RCW 46.61.130 - no passing zones
RCW 46.61.135 - one-way roadways and rotary traffic islands
RCW 46.61.140 - driving on roadways laned for traffic
RCW 46.61.145 - following too closely
RCW 46.61.150 - driving on divided highways
RCW 46.61.155 - restricted access
RCW 46.61.160 - restrictions on limited access highway
RCW 46.61.165 - high occupancy vehicle lanes
RCW 46.61.180 - vehicle approaching intersection
RCW 46.61.183 - nonfunctioning signal lights
RCW 46.61.185 - vehicle turning left
RCW 46.61.190 - vehicle entering stop or yield intersection (stop sign)
RCW 46.61.195 - arterial highways designated - stopping on entering
RCW 46.61.200 - stop intersections other than arterial may be designated
f you are facing a criminal or civil traffic charge, you need an experienced attorney working hard for you. Contact JRC Practice, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation by calling (206) 395-9059 or by sending us an email.