What is an infraction?
In 1981, the Legislature decriminalized many minor traffic offenses to promote public safety and to facilitate the implementation of a uniform and expeditious system for the disposition of such offenses. Common traffic infractions are speeding, seat belt and liability insurance violations. Since 1989, other types of minor offenses have been decriminalized, including certain parks, wildlife, and fisheries offenses.
These offenses are called infractions and are considered civil cases.
What must I do if I receive an infraction?
You must respond to the court within fifteen (15) days of the date the infraction was issued to you. An infraction is not a crime, but failure to respond can result in an increase of the amount you must pay and in the suspension of your driver's license. Click here to find out how to respond to your ticket.
May I have a lawyer at a Contested Hearing?
You may have a lawyer appear and represent you at your hearing. The lawyer fees would be your responsibility. The court does not appoint lawyers at public expense in infraction cases.
Will a traffic infraction appear on my driving record?
When you are found to have committed a traffic infraction, either by paying the penalty, having a hearing to explain the circumstances, or after a contested hearing, state law requires the court to report the conviction to the Department of Licensing (DOL). The traffic infraction will then appear on your driving record, which DOL maintains for three years for insurance purposes. If the infraction is dismissed by the court, it will not be reported to DOL and it will not appear on your driving record.
What about a "No Liability Insurance" ticket?
If you were cited for violating RCW 46.30.020 (not having proof of mandatory liability insurance), please review this court's policy for dismissal or reduction of the fine:
If your auto insurance policy provided liability coverage effective on or before the date and time that you were cited, for the vehicle that you were driving, your charge may be dismissed upon payment of a $25 fee.
If your auto insurance policy provided or now provides liability coverage effective after the date and time that you were cited, for the vehicle that you were driving, you may qualify for a reduction.
Adequate proof of insurance may be in the form of a letter from the insurance company, proof of insurance card, or copy of your policy, but it must include the following information:
- The name of the individual listed on the infraction
- The make and model of the vehicle listed on the infraction
- The effective dates of the auto insurance policy
- The name of the insurance company
- A broad form policy which states that you have valid vehicle insurance
If you prefer, you may request a mitigation hearing to explain the circumstances and show your insurance proof to the judge. However, you must respond as described above within the 15 days required by your notice of infraction.
What about traffic school?
District Court does not allow traffic school as an alternative disposition to your traffic ticket. However, you may qualify to have your traffic infraction deferred. Click here and read about "Deferrals" for more information.
What if I cannot afford to pay the penalty in full?
Click here to request either a mitigation hearing or a contested hearing.
You are expected to pay any penalty of $110 or less in full following your hearing.
If you need to arrange to make time payments for greater amounts, or need to arrange for community service instead of payment, you will need to make these arrangements with the court clerk immediately following your hearing.
What happens if I don't respond? I don't appear in court? I don't pay?
Failure to pay or respond to an infraction within 15 days will result in a finding that the infraction was committed and an order that the penalty listed on the infraction is due immediately.
If you asked for a court hearing and do not appear at the scheduled hearing, the court will find that the infraction was committed and order the penalty listed on the infraction due immediately.
A $52 late penalty is added when no response is made, payment is not made in a timely manner, or a hearing is missed.
For traffic infractions, the Department of Licensing is notified of your failure to respond, pay or appear, resulting in suspension of your driver’s license. Delinquent payments may also be assigned to a collection agency with collection costs added.
I forgot about my ticket. What do I do now?
Paying the amount due in full, including late penalties and collection costs, will clear the matter with the court.
Hearing requests will not be granted if a case FTA (failure to appear, respond, comply or pay) has been issued.
If your account is assigned to the collection agency, you must contact that agency to arrange payments.
For more information about this court's driver's re-licensing program call 360-786-5562.
For more information about missed court dates and missed payments call the court at 360-786-5450.
Is there a legal right to appeal?
You may appeal if the court finds you committed the infraction after a contested hearing. A written notice of appeal must be filed with the court within thirty (30) days of the court’s decision against you. You will be responsible for the costs of an appeal, which includes a $230 Superior Court filing fee, payable in advance. If you appeal, the Superior Court will review the record that was made at the District Court. The Superior Court will not provide a new trial. Instructions and forms to appeal a case are available from the District Court office.