What should I do if I get cited with a traffic ticket in Washington?
The four basic options for a traffic ticket in Washington State.
Option 1: Admitting the InfractionIf you get a traffic ticket you generally have a few options to choose from.
The first option is admit the ticket. Admitting it means that you are admitting what happened and agreeing that you will be responsible for the full financial penalty. This will also happen if you do not respond to the ticket. If the violation is a "moving violation," it will be reported to your insurance and can raise your rates.
Option 2: MitigationThe second option is to mitigate the ticket. This is virtually the same as admitting the ticket, but you will be allowed to present an explanation and ask for a reduced fine. This will still affect your insurance.
Option 3: Contesting the TicketThe third option is to contest the ticket. You do not necessarily need an attorney, but your chances of success usually will dramatically increase with the assistance of an attorney. Contesting the ticket means that you will be responsible for knowing the court rules and rules of evidence applicable to traffic tickets. You will have an opportunity to present your case, to challenge the government's case, or both. If you lose, the ticket will be found committed, same as option 1.
Option 4: Deferring the TicketThe last option is to defer the ticket. This typically means that you agree to certain times, usually the payment of a fine and sometimes traffic school, and agree to stay out of trouble for a period of time, usually one year. If you complete the deferral, the ticket will be dismissed. However, if you do not comply, it will be found committed.