I Want to Fight My Traffic Ticket in Washington. Now What?
Updated 8/16/20 – Published by: Igor Shapiro
A speeding ticket, a parking ticket, or any other type of traffic violation issued in Washington does more than ruin your day. It can be extremely costly. The fine linked with the traffic ticket isn’t the only issue. When your insurance carrier pulls your driving record to renew your auto policy, there’s also the risk of increasing your insurance price. And, because a traffic ticket might stay on your record for three years, your insurance rate may remain relatively high for some time.
Many people wish to contest their traffic ticket because of these potentially significant consequences. We can’t say we blame them. Indeed, that is why we prepared this article: to assist you in understanding how to contest your traffic ticket. To begin, you’ll understand how a traffic ticket can impact your driving record. Then you’ll discover what you shouldn’t say to the cops if you’re pulled over. It’s not only an issue of being courteous in general (although being polite can sometimes result in being given a warning instead of a ticket). It’s essentially just a question of not admitting to breaching a traffic law. No, simply signing the ticket when the police requests it does not constitute an admission of guilt. You’re simply acknowledging that you received a duplicate of the ticket.
After that, you’ll learn how to defend your ticket. While these approaches may be practical for you, they involve some effort. Finally, you’ll learn how to get a lawyer to help you with traffic charges. Some may believe that hiring a lawyer to contest a traffic ticket is pointless, yet there are several reasons to do so: It can help you save money on your insurance. It can assist you in maintaining a clean driving record. And if you drive for a living or volunteer for an organization that relies on you to move people or things, this is crucial.
“How Does a Ticket Affect My Driving Record in Washington?”
Your driving record in Washington is a record of every traffic ticket, conviction, accident, and departmental action involving you. An “abstract of driving record,” or “ADR,” is another name for a driving record. People contest tickets for various reasons, the most common of which is that it damages their driving record.
In Washington, there are four different categories of driving records. A complete driving record contains every conviction, traffic violation, accident, license suspension, revocation, disqualification, traffic ticket deferral, and failure to appear. Only the listed driver, lawyers, legal agencies and courts, governmental agencies, and their named agents have access to a complete driving record. You may, for example, request a copy of your driving record. If the court or your lawyer had a justification, they might obtain a copy of your driving record. You could not obtain a copy of your neighbor’s complete driving record.
Car and life insurance companies analyze your driving record to determine whether they offer you a policy or renew your current one. It can be used for commercial and personal insurance coverage, and it can be viewed by the person specified on the driver’s license, the insurance company, or its named agent. The insurance kind of driving record only gives a three-year history of convictions, traffic violations, accidents, and failures to appear. In contrast, your full driving record comprises every driving infraction for which you’ve ever been convicted. When insurance companies state that infractions or other driving convictions “disappear off” your record, they’re referring to this. They aren’t entirely removed from your driving record; instead, they aren’t viewable to insurance providers on your insurance driving record. Insurance companies use this driving record to assess whether or not they will cover you and how much they will charge to do so. Because you must have automobile insurance to drive in Washington, and insurance companies look at your driving record to determine whether or not they will cover you and how much they will charge, the number of committed citations you have is significant.
An employer, future employer, or volunteer group can use your job driving record to determine whether you should work or volunteer as a driver for them. The identified driver, employers and their named agents, potential employers and their named agents, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, and school districts are the only ones who have access to it. Convictions, traffic violations, accidents, license suspensions, revocations, disqualifications, deferred traffic tickets, and failures to appear are all part of your driving record. Your company, a future employer, or a volunteer group may determine that a traffic ticket you’ve gotten makes you too dangerous to drive for them.
Only treatment agencies have access to an alcohol and drug treatment driving record. These agencies evaluate a five-year driving history to assess the needs of persons enrolled in treatment programs.
The State Department of Licensing in Washington will suspend your driver’s license if you receive too many traffic tickets. According to the Department of Licensing, “too many” moving offenses are defined as six in 12 months or seven in 24 months. The suspension will be in effect for 60 days. Following the suspension, you will be placed on probation for one year. If you receive another moving infraction while on probation, your driver’s license will be suspended for another 30 days, and your one-year probation period will begin all over again.
Contesting a Red-Light Traffic Ticket in Washington
In 2005, Washington began issuing tickets using red-light cameras, sometimes known as automated traffic safety cameras. They’re a ubiquitous tool employed by law enforcement agencies around the state to ensure that drivers respect the rules of the road. Because police officers cannot be everywhere at once, automatic traffic safety cameras monitor problematic intersections and school zones. On a human level, though, receiving a letter in the mail informing you that you have broken the law in some way is unexpected, and it’s frightening to owe money to the city suddenly. But, if we’re being honest, we can all recall at least one instance when we saw someone speeding or driving erratically and wondered where a cop was, especially in a school zone.
Despite this, hundreds of red-light cameras have been deployed across Washington. The Seattle Times reports that the average cost of a red light camera ticket in Seattle is $136. There are also cameras on school buses.
The good news is that you can appeal a red light ticket in Washington because of how the law is structured. You must be able to swear truthfully (because you will be under oath) that you were not driving the car when the traffic ticket was issued. While it is allowed to employ red-light cameras to catch drivers disobeying traffic regulations in Washington, it is not legal to use the cameras to identify the car’s driver. You are not liable for a traffic ticket issued by a red-light camera if someone else was driving your automobile when the ticket was issued.
Another issue with red-light cameras is that they generate a false sense of security. The defendant has the right to question witnesses in any other type of traffic ticket, criminal, or civil prosecution. It is impossible to challenge red-light cameras, and they cannot testify.
This is why in Washington, camera tickets are deemed non-moving offenses and are not recorded on your driving record. That does not imply that you should ignore it and let it go unpaid. It’s handled similarly to a parking ticket. Parking tickets are taken seriously by the state of Washington, especially if they go unpaid. The State of Washington may place a boot on your vehicle or tow and seize your vehicle if you have four or more unpaid parking fines of any kind. A vehicle lookup tool is available in some places, such as Seattle. It tells you how many outstanding parking fines, as well as unpaid red-light penalties, are associated with your vehicle. If you are not in Seattle, you can check for outstanding parking citations at the municipal court in your city or municipality. The Washington Courts website has a comprehensive list of municipal courts in the state. On the other hand, the Law Office of Igor A. Shapiro does not recommend fighting either your camera tickets or your parking tickets because they have no direct impact on your driving record — and hence have no impact on your ability or cost to drive.
Three Things Not to Say When You Are Pulled Over or Given a Ticket
If the cops ask how fast you were going, don’t say anything. You confess to breaching the law if you tell the officer that you were speeding. They will accuse you of speeding if you refuse to answer no. Then you might fight and eventually admit that you were speeding or that you were speeding and didn’t realize it. “Yes, Officer, I was or may have been speeding,” do not even come close to sounding like that.
Give no excuse for why you were doing whatever it was that got you pulled over. You can say nothing to the officer to make your conduct seem justified. It is their responsibility to uphold the law. They have a lot of discretion, but they’ve heard everything. Of course, you can inform them if they ask, but there’s no need to volunteer anything.
Telling the officer you’re going to phone your lawyer is a bad idea. The police will not be scared or intimidated into not issuing you a ticket due to this. And, yes, we realize that this is technically addressed under how you should be kind and avoid being contentious. Your ticket is not going to be heard by the police. The judge’s job is to do just that. It is the officer’s responsibility to determine whether or not a ticket should be issued. If you hire a lawyer, the lawyer’s responsibility is to present your case to the judge, not quarrel with the officer. It’s a traffic ticket, not a robbery or other major crime for which you’ll be given your rights and interrogated. Saying words that will aggravate a minor problem is not a good idea. Otherwise, you risk receiving a ticket after receiving a warning.
Three Strategies to Fight Your Ticket in Washington
You must first contest your ticket in Washington before you can fight it. To do so, mark the box on the ticket that says you want to contest any or all of the infractions stated. Make two copies of the ticket at the very least. Send the original traffic ticket to the address on the ticket, which is the municipal court. You will be given a court date. One ticket must be kept for your records. If you intend to defend your ticket on your own, this is especially vital. If you plan to employ a lawyer to assist you, you will provide the other copy of the ticket to them. If you intend to fight your ticket on your own, the tactics listed below can assist you.
Inquire about the prosecution’s evidence. At least 14 days before your court date, you must submit a written request for evidence. You should ask for police reports, any notes the officer made about the incident, a certificate for the radar gun used, and the radar gun’s maintenance records. Within seven days of your court date, the prosecutor must send you a copy of any evidence they intend to use. If they don’t, they won’t be able to use it. Keep in mind that you can wind up with the proof.
Determine whether the officer who issued the ticket submitted the ticket on time. Only five days remain for the officer who issued the ticket to file it with the court. The five-day count starts the day the ticket is issued. The court is required to dismiss the ticket if it was not filed on time. Because the municipal court is so busy, they don’t have time to keep track of the filing dates and the dates on which the tickets are issued. That is, they will not tell you if your ticket was filed on time or not. It’s up to you to decide.
Subpoena any witnesses as well as the officer who wrote the ticket. Within seven days after your court hearing, the officer and any witnesses to the incident must be legally served. You must be able to show that you were served with legal documents. If you present proof of appropriate service but the officer fails to appear at your hearing, the court will most likely dismiss the ticket.
Hiring a Lawyer for Traffic Tickets
You are not on your own when it comes to fighting a traffic ticket. Trying to handle it on your own might not be as effective as you’d hoped. Using Law Office of Igor A. Shapiro to hire a lawyer for traffic citations is advantageous because:
You don’t end up getting buried in papers you don’t know what to do with. Let’s be realistic. If the prosecutor sent you a box full of maintenance records and certifications about the radar gun used to determine your speed, would you know what you’re looking at? Probably not. And would you have the time to go through everything?
You don’t have to chase down filing dates with the court. Technicalities can be great because they make life easy, but do you have time for it? You’d still have to go to court, and you’d still have to wait to talk to the judge. You’re still taking time out of your day, no matter how you look at it.
You don’t even need to appear in court. Using Law Office of Igor A. Shapiro to hire a traffic ticket lawyer is as simple as snapping a photo of your ticket, and filling out our contact form. You are not required to appear in court if we can assist you, and we take care of everything.
You may be able to save up to $770 while also protecting your driving record. Remember that if you receive six traffic fines in 12 months, the state of Washington can suspend your driver’s license and put you on probation for a year. There’s also the rise in insurance prices. By safeguarding your driving record, hiring an attorney to contest your ticket might save you up to $770 over the next three years.
We have a 98 percent success record and a money-back guarantee in Washington. You will receive a refund if we do not win. Contact us here.