Your 5 options after getting a traffic ticket
After you get a traffic ticket, you must respond within 15 days. Failure to respond can result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
Let someone take care of it for you1. Hire an experienced traffic infractions attorney. Your attorney will work to protect your record and obtain the best possible outcome. If you hire a lawyer, in most cases you do not need to appear in court.
If you want to do it yourself2. Pay Ticket. You can respond with a payment for the face value of the ticket. However, when you pay the ticket, you are admitting fault and will be found committed. This option is not recommended as most infractions will be reported to DOL and your insurance company.
3. Mitigation Hearing. With this option, you will be asking the judge to lower your fine. In order to mitigate your ticket, you must first admit that you committed the infraction. The only benefit you get with this option is paying less fine. If you're cited with a moving violation, pursuing this option will not protect your record.
4. Contested Hearing. This is like a mini-trial, where you are allowed to present evidence and witnesses in front of a judge. The burden is on the prosecution to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you committed the cited infraction. If the prosecutor fails to prove that you are more likely than not at fault, your ticket will be dismissed. If the prosecution wins, you will end up paying the full fine and the ticket goes on your record.
5. Deferral. RCW 46.63.070 allows drivers to defer one moving and one non-moving violation every 7 years. With this option, you agree not to pick up another infraction for a year (sometimes 6 months), and agree to pay administrative fee. If you are successful in keeping a clean record during this period, the ticket will be dismissed. Commercial driver's license (CDL) holders are not eligible for this option.