Washington Traffic Tickets and Violations

If you received a Washington traffic ticket recently, you might be wondering what to do about it. The good news is not every traffic violation is the same, and some drivers even have the opportunity to keep their citation off their driving record, preventing costly insurance hikes.

Read on for a breakdown of Washington traffic tickets and violations, along with your options for forgiveness.

Traffic Tickets & Types of Violations in Washington 

The first thing you need to know is what type of ticket you’ve received. Washington traffic violations are classified as either moving or non-moving offenses. A speeding ticket is a moving violation while a non-moving violation includes a parking ticket.

Examples of moving violations include:

  • A red light or stop sign violation
  • Seat belt violation
  • Driving under the influence

Non-moving violations include:

  • Driving with expired plates or registration
  • Leaving an unattended vehicle running

Washington traffic fines are set by the county court. In addition to the fine for the actual violation, you’ll also have to pay various assessment fees, used to fund state programs.

How to Handle a Traffic Citation

If you intend to contest your ticket, you will need to go to court on or before the date printed on your ticket and enter a “not guilty” plea. You will first present your case to a Washington county prosecuting attorney. If you cannot come to an agreement, a court date will be scheduled and you’ll plead your case before a judge. If this happens, you might want to consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney.

Your other option is to plead guilty and pay your fine. This doesn’t require a court appearance, you just need to make your payment before the date printed on your ticket. Keep in mind, fines are not paid to the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) but to the city where you received your ticket. To find out more information about paying your fine, visit the DOL website

What a Guilty Plea Means

Pleading guilty sounds so formal and scary. The truth is, if you’re not careful multiple violations on your driving record could result in higher insurance rates, and even a suspended license.

If you plead guilty to a speeding ticket in Washington for example, this violation would be reported to the Department of Licensing. While Washington does not use a point system like some other states, they do keep track of the number of tickets reported to the DOL. If you receive 4 moving violations in 12 months or 5 in 24 months, your license will be put on probation. Get another 2 more tickets and your driver license will suspended for 30 days.

Deferring a Traffic Ticket

The good news (if there is any) is that drivers are allowed by the courts to take a Washington defensive driving course to defer a ticket and keep it from being reported to the DOL. But keep in mind, this option is only available once every 7 years. In order to defer a ticket you must request permission from the court. Typically, drivers are eligible if they have not taken a course within the past 7 years, your citation was for a minor moving violation, and you have no additional tickets pending.

Washington DUI Laws & License Suspensions

In Washington, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol will result in one of two types of license suspension or revocation.

Drivers who are arrested for DUI will have their license suspended for 90 days up to 2 years, unless they request a hearing to contest the suspension with 20 days of the date of arrest and the hearing examiner rules in your favor.

Unfortunately, even if the hearing examiner rules in your favor you’re not off the hook for a suspended license just yet. The court could still convict you of a DUI and suspend your license. If you are convicted of a DUI in court, you have the option to get a restricted license, also known as an Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL). You can apply for an IIL license any time during your suspension or revocation period and by installing an ignition interlock device in your car you are allowed to drive during your license suspension period. To find out more about reinstating a drivers license after a suspension visit the DOL website