Speeding Tickets

Ticket Myths and Mistakes

Myths and Mistakes

It is important to remember that  each citation is unique. Each ticket is addressed  in a manner that takes into account the appropriate City and County laws along with court rules and case law to determine the final outcome of the ticket.

Incorrect Information on the Ticket

It is a common misconception, that an error on the ticket will lead to an automatic dismissal of the ticket.  

Mistakes might include the incorrect make or model of the car, color of the vehicle, or the incorrect plate number being written on the ticket.

The court would usually not consider these mistakes as valid arguments for dismissal.

The judge may still decide that the citation was committed and the infraction would go on your driving record.

Some Myths to Avoid

Going with the flow of traffic and exceeding the posted speed limit, is still considered speeding.

In Washington State, the officer is not required to show you radar/lidar gun result.

There are many ways an experienced traffic attorney can fight your ticket for you.

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Moving and Non Moving Violations

Moving Violations

There are many different moving violations that can affect your driving record. We will discuss a few at this time.

Personal Electronic Device

In June of 2017 the Washington State laws changed to make using your Personal Electronic Device a moving violation. For a first offense the fee is $136 and a a second offense will be $234.

Officers may pull you over if they see you holding your device in your hand while on the roadways, even if you are stopped at a traffic light.

A driver may use a personal electronic device if using it in a hands free manner. You may only start a function with a single touch or swipe if you are not holding your device.

Speeding

Speed limits are important to help with overall traffic safety and having an enforced speed limit reduces traffic collisions and fatalities.

There are multiple ways a driver could be caught for speeding. These include Radar, Lidar, Aircraft Patrol, Pacing your vehicle. In each instance documentation will be filed regarding the infraction, this is commonly referred to as the police report.

Accident tickets

Not all accidents result in an issuance of a traffic ticket.  Some common citations issued due to an accident include: speed too fast for conditions, improper lane change, failure to yield, failure to stop, following too close and negligent driving.

If a citation is issued regarding the accident it would appear in the infractions section of the motor vehicle record.

In Washington the report of an accident will appear on your driving record in the Accident Section.

Once hired, we would go to court for you and help fight the traffic ticket in court and try to keep the citation off of the infraction section of your driving record.  

Non Moving Violations

There are many non moving violations that may be reported to the Department of Licensing. These may be visible to your insurance company, however would have less consequences to your record than a moving violation. These can include some of the items listed below.

Seat belt Violations

A seat belt violation may be visible on your driving record however it will not be visible for insurance companies to view. All occupants of a vehicle must wear appropriate restraints. Children are to be in approved child restraints as noted in the Rules of the Road.

Parking tickets

Parking tickets are assigned to the vehicle or the vehicle's registered owner. Since the driver is not usually present when the the ticket is issued. These do not affect your driving record.

Camera tickets

Camera tickets or photo enforced tickets are issued to the registered owner of a vehicle that was caught on a camera committing an infraction.

These infractions do not go on your driving record. However if you do not address them in a timely manner they can cause you to not be able to renew your registration.

Our goal when we represent you is to protect your driving record. Since the red light camera tickets do not appear on your driving record, our advice would be to pay the fine or go to court and get the fine reduced.

There are many ways an experienced traffic attorney can fight your ticket for you.

Call us now to ask additional questions or to hire an experienced attorney who has deep connections with the local legal system.

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Infractions and Traffic School

Traffic School

Sometimes you may be asked to complete traffic school to facilitate a favorable resolution of a traffic infraction. These requests may originate with the judge or prosecutor or the attorneys and are a way to negotiate a resolution.

What traffic school?

Depending on what has been negotiated, you may be asked to attend a specific class, may have the stipulation to attend the traffic school in person, sometimes, the requirement to complete traffic school can be completed online.

Level 1

A level 1 traffic school class is a 4 hour class will address safe driving practices.

Level 2

A level 2 traffic school class is a 8 hour class that will include safe driving practices, information regarding aggressive driving or road rage.

Completion

Upon completion of the traffic school you will receive a certificate to prove that you have met the requirements. This Certificate will be presented to the court.

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Image Credit:  Road Rage by Mob Mob

Possible Infraction Outcomes

Possible Outcomes

There are many different outcomes that are possible for an infraction. Each one has different effects on your driving abstract or record. Some will appear in your abstract and some will not. Some may raise your insurance rates, because insurance plans are different the only way to truly know if your insurance rates are going to increase would be to talk with your car insurance agent.

We will discuss some of the main categories of these possible outcomes.

Dismissed

Our first goal to protect your driving record would be an outright Dismissal without cost to you.

This case will appear in the court dockets as having occurred, but the outcome is listed as dismissed. Thereby protecting your driving abstract or record.

Committed

This is when the Judge has ruled, despite all arguments, that the charges on your ticket are valid and is not willing to remove or amend the infraction in any way to protect the record.

Amended

Having a ticket amended means that although the Judge was unwilling to dismiss the ticket, they were agreeable to amend the infraction in a way to help reduce insurance consequences. With a procedural change of this manner the Judge will assess a court fee in relation to the new charge.

Deferred Finding

According to Washington State Legislature RCW 46.63.070 the court may grant deferred findings for a traffic infraction. However, the court also has the option of placing stipulations or conditions on that deferred finding and may assess additional court costs for administrative processing.

If at the end of the deferral period, you have met all of the conditions that the court has imposed, then the court may dismiss the infraction.

You are only allowed to use the deferral option one time within a seven year period for traffic infractions for moving violations.

Commercial Drivers License (CDL) operators are not eligible for a deferral.

Confirmed Outcome

When we have confirmed that your outcome has been recorded correctly in your court docket we will notify you of the details.

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Image Credit: Holly Ramsey

Failure to Appear for a Traffic Ticket

What is Failure to Appear?

When you receive a traffic citation, you are required to respond to the court within 15 calendar days from the date of the infraction.

If you do not respond to your Traffic Citation in a timely manner a Fail to Appear (FTA) will be added to your court file.

FTA Can Cause a License Suspension.

According to RCW 46.20.289.The Washington State Department of Licensing can suspend all driving privileges if they receive notice from the court that a person has:

  • Failed to respond to a traffic citation.

  • Failed to appear at a hearing.

  • Violated a written promise to appear in court for the infraction.

How Long is my License Suspended or Revoked?

Your license can be suspended until you pay the fine or comply with the requirement to appear in court.

Steps to Reinstate Your License.

  1. Once your failure to appear has been cleared with the court, they will issue a certificate of adjudication.

  2. After the court notifies DOL that your failure to appear has been cleared, DOL will update your driving record to show your license is not suspended or revoked any more.

  3. You will need to apply for a new license. You may need to pay a:

    • $75 reissue fee plus your licensing fees if the original charge wasn't drug or alcohol related, or

    • $150 reissue fee plus your licensing fees if the original charge was drug or alcohol related.

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Ticket Terminology

Ticket Terminology

There are terms that are related to these tickets that can be confusing. We are going to try to clear them up for you.

Traffic and Non Traffic Citations

A ticket that is related to a vehicle is considered a Traffic Ticket.

This might include Speeding, Fail to Obey Traffic Control Device, Fail to Renew Registration, Safety belt and more.

A ticket that does not involve a vehicle is considered a Non Traffic Ticket

This might include Jaywalking, noise violations, or other items.

Traffic Tickets? Let us talk about Moving Violation and Non Moving violation.  

Moving Violations affect your record and can cause your insurance rates to go up.

How Can You Tell If it is Non Moving or Moving?

There is a list of moving violations and non moving violations on the Washington Administrative Code, also known as the WAC.

WAC 308.104.160 has this list.

This list is not exhaustive and some non moving violations can affect your record.

Moving Violations

According to WAC 308-104-160 the term "moving violation" means any violation of vehicle laws listed in this section that is committed by the driver of a vehicle, while the vehicle is moving.

Non Moving Violations

Parking violations, equipment violations or paperwork violations relating to insurance, registration, licensing and inspection are considered "non-moving violations”.  

How do these affect your record?

Each violation that is issued will have different consequences to you and your record.

There are several factors to consider when addressing a ticket, do you:

  • Have a Commercial Drivers License?

  • Drive for work?

  • Have an Intermediate License?

  • What is the specific charge (reason for the ticket)?

A Moving Violation that is reported to the Department of License will appear on your Driving Abstract for 3 years.  It may affect your insurance rates and possibly your work.

A Non Moving Violation may be reported to the Department of License.  The consequences for a non moving violation are less than for a moving violation and may not affect your car insurance rates.  Each insurance company and policy is different.

For example: according to RCW 46.61.688 a person violating the safety belt law will be issued a traffic infraction.  If a committed finding is found for the safety belt violation it shall be reported on the driver’s abstract but shall not be available to insurance companies or employers.

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Infraction Continuance

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What is a Continuance for an Infraction?

There is a chance that we will need to ask for a continuance for your case.

A “Continuance” is a motion to the court to request that a new court hearing date be set. Continuances are normal and have no negative impact on the outcome of your case.

There are multiple reasons why a motion to continue may be filed.

Examples can include:

  • Court calendar scheduling conflicts.

  • Perhaps we are waiting for the complete documentation that we have requested to build the defense for your case.

How Many Times?

This depends on the court that the case is assigned to and the judge that is presiding. In some situations motions to continue may be allowed multiple times for a case. In other situations they may only be allowed one time.

We file the appropriate documents to allow the court to reset the case to a new hearing date. The court will then have a new 120 days to hold a hearing for the traffic infraction.

Do I Need To Worry?

No. The new court date will be placed on our calendar, and we will address the new hearing on your behalf.

Once we have a confirmed outcome for your infraction, you will be notified of the details by mail.

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After You Hire Merrill Law for a Traffic Ticket

What happens after you hire Merrill Law for representation for a traffic ticket?

After you have completed the client agreement form and provided payment. Our legal team members will process the proper paperwork to fight your ticket.

We will notify the court in writing that Merrill Law is representing you, and we will request the Discovery.

The Discovery are documents that include the sworn reports from the arresting officer for the Attorney to review and build a defense for your specific case.

Setting a Court Date

When the court receives our notice of appearance, the court clerks will assign a court date. We watch your case closely for this date to be set and calendar for the attorney to appear on your behalf.

The court has 120 days to hold a hearing for the traffic infraction.

Sometimes the courts will send you a notice of the hearing date. You are not required to attend or fill out the statement, as we will address your infraction at the court hearing. You do not need to miss any of your own obligations.

Sometimes an infraction will have more than one hearing date for a variety of reasons. We will address this infraction for you until it has been resolved.

The day of your hearing

It is not necessary for you to attend the court date so We will address your traffic infraction at the time of the hearing. When you completed the client agreement form, you authorized Merrill Law to act on your behalf at the court hearing.

What happens next?

After the hearing we will monitor your file for the court clerks to complete the updates in the court docket regarding your case.

This is a very important step as the Docket Entry directly affects your driving record. We want to make sure that this has been correctly entered to reflect the decisions that were made at Court.

Once the docket has been updated and the outcome is verified by the attorney, we will notify you by mail of the outcome of your case. This process normally takes several days to a week.

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What is a Ticket?

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A Ticket is a Civil Infraction

These are some examples :

  • Speeding ticket

  • Negligent Driving 2nd degree

  • Personal Electronic Device

  • Fail to Yield

  • Improper Lane change

  • Fail to Signal

  • Speeding too fast for conditions

How does a Traffic Ticket affect you:

  • Go on your Driving Abstract as a moving violation.

  • Can cause your insurance rates to go up.

  • Can add points to your license.

  • Will show on your record for 3 years.

  • May affect your job either now or in the future.

We Can Help You Fight Your Ticket!

Our Attorneys work to protect your record. We will:

  • Request all required documentation from the court.

  • Develop the best defense strategy for each individual infraction.

  • Address your ticket at the court hearing for you.

  • Confirm the outcome has been properly recorded in your docket.

  • Notify you of the outcome and any steps you need to do to complete the process.

How do you Hire Merrill Law to Represent You?

The completed client agreement form and the fee will need to be paid prior to Merrill Law being able to represent you in court.

Traffic tickets are generally handled by our legal team during office hours.

Handwritten Client Signatures are required to hire the Law Office of Rick Merrill. If client is a minor, Parent or Guardian Signatures are also required.

To get started.

  • Come in to the office during business hours or,

  • Call during business hours to have the form sent to you by Email, Fax or Mail.

  • Send a request for an agreement form via the website.

Regarding your Ticket

  • You must respond to the court with in the 15 calendar day time restriction.  

  • we can send the ticket to the court for you, if you bring it into the office in a timely manner.

  • If you intend to hire Merrill Law, we ask that you mark the contested hearing box, it is the 3rd box on the ticket, and mail the ticket directly to the court.  

We have pointed out come important areas to look for information on your ticket. There are a few different formats that may be issued.

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Options on your ticket.

You have a three options on your ticket to tell the court how you wish to address this matter.  You will find these options at the bottom of a white ticket or on the back of a green ticket.

  1. Enclose payment with the ticket and mail the ticket directly to the court.  If you select this option, you should understand that the traffic infraction will go on your driving record.

  2. Request a Mitigation Hearing.  By requesting this type of hearing, you are agreeing that you have committed the infraction, but would like to explain the circumstances in which the violation occurred.  This will be a hearing that you will be required to attend to present your case to the court. The infraction will go on your record with a mitigated hearing.

  3. Request a Contested Hearing. When hiring Merrill Law for representation, a contested hearing is the preferred type of hearing as it allows the details of the infraction to be challenged in court.

Please return the ticket to the court at the address noted on the ticket.

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