I Received a Traffic Ticket—Now What Do I Do?
If you received a traffic ticket, also called a traffic infraction, you are probably trying to figure out the best way to deal with it. This step-by-step guide can help you figure out what to and how to make the best decision.
You have four options. Three options are listed on the ticket itself. If you have a GREEN hand-written ticket, the three options are listed on the back of the ticket. If you have a WHITE print-out ticket, the three options are listed in the lower right-hand corner of the ticket.
1) Pay the fine: You can mail the fine listed on the ticket. If you choose this option you are admitting you committed the violation, and it will go on your driving record. Your auto insurance agency will be able to access this record and may raise your insurance rates.
2) Mitigated Hearing: This option allows you to appear in front of a judge to explain the circumstances surrounding the violation. If you choose this option, you are admitting you committed the violation and are asking for the judge to lower the fine given the circumstances. Even with a reduced fee, the ticket will go on your driving record and can be reported to your insurance agency, which may raise your insurance rates.
3) Contested Hearing: Choosing this option allows you to fight your ticket. You will be given a date to show up to court and argue that the ticket should be dismissed and should not go on your record. At this point you will need to decide whether you will try to argue for yourself or hire a lawyer to argue for you. If the arguments are successful, and the infraction is dismissed, you would not have to pay the fine and the ticket would not go on your record.
4) Do Nothing: This is not a good option! If you choose to do nothing and ignore the ticket, then the court will find you committed the violation and you will have to pay the fine listed on the ticket. If you do not pay the fine, the court will notify the department of licensing who will suspend your WA license.
You must mail your ticket, marked with the selection you have chosen, to the court within 15 days from the date on the ticket. If you mail in your response later than 15 days, the ticket will go on your record and you will have to pay the fine listed on the ticket to the court. You should make a photocopy (both sides if applicable) of the ticket before you mail it.
If you have decided you want to fight the ticket, you may want to hire a lawyer. There are numerous advantages to hiring a lawyer. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about fighting tickets may find technical reasons why the ticket should be dismissed. A layperson may not be aware of these technical arguments. In addition, in most courts, a lawyer can appear on your behalf so that you need not show up for court. This may save you time and/or wages.
This legal guide is not intended to teach anyone the law, nor is it a substitute for the advice of a lawyer in possession of full disclosure of the facts relevant to an individual’s particular situation. This legal guide does not create an attorney-client relationship between the writer and any reader.