A brief overview of which traffic infractions get reported to Washington DOL and your insurance company.
"Moving" Violations vs. "Non-Moving" Violations
The distinction between moving and non-moving violations is important for several reasons. First, too many moving violations in a five year period will lead to Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status and a seven year license recovation. The other main distinction is whether or not an infraction gets reported to insurance companies. Non-moving violation may be recorded on your driving abstract, but are not reportable on a standard insurance abstract. DOL may only release information about non-moving violations to employers and in several other limited circumstances. An amendment form a moving violation to a non-moving violation will usually save you from problems with your insurance company. If you drive for a living or are on a deferred finding on another ticket, changing your ticket to a non-moving violation may not benefit you at all. Make sure your attorney is fully informed about what type of resolution you need.WAC 308-104-160 outlines what offenses are considered "moving" violations under Washington Law (see link below for a complete list).
Camera Tickets (Speeding and Red Light Cameras)
These are essentially the equivalent to a parking ticket. Infractions issued by "traffic safety cameras," (School Zone Speeding, Red Light Violations or Toll Evasion) are not reportable to DOL. As such, they do not get reported to your insurance company, employer or anyone else (except the collection agency if you don't pay).While these tickets are annoying, there is usually little benefit to fighting them. Asking the judge for a reduced fine may be the best course of action with these.
A limited number of traffic offense are not reported to DOL by statute. If an offense is non-reportable the statute will specifically state that the court is prohibited from reporting the offense to certain agencies. As a result of being non-reportable, these tickets should not cause insurance or employment problems. Cell phone violations are one statute commonly used for purposes of amending the ticket to something that will not effect your insurance. King and Snohomish County (and many other municipalities and countiaes) have recently added an "Inattention to Driving" statute. Inattention has no equivalent RCW and, so, DOL is not able to enter them in their computer records. Thus, "Inattention" is an invisible ticket and a very desireable resolution.
County and Municipal Code Infractions
Infractions for Municipal Codes that do not have an equivalent State Code (such as Inattention to Driving, above) do not get reported to anyone, including DOL. They will usually go to collections if not paid and can result in the suspension of your license until the fine is paid.Because these are non-reportable an amendment to a municipal code infraction is often a great resolution for someone charged with a moving violation. Again, if you are on a deferred finding or special circumstance you should let your attorney know as this resolution may not always achieve your goals.
Different rules sometimes apply to Intermediate License holders and drivers under the age of 18. If either of these applies, you should contact a traffic infraction lawyer to discuss the specific consequences.
Additional resources provided by the author
Contact the Law Office of Scott Lawrence, PLLC if you have further questions about your traffic infraction.