Traffic Infraction FAQ
What is an infraction?
Infractions are non-criminal violations of the law and include violations such as speeding, parking, code violations and animal complaints. Previously, many traffic and criminal violations were considered crimes, but in 1981 Washington joined a number of states in decriminalizing minor offenses which resulted in a major change in the way that the courts of limited jurisdiction deal with those offenses.
What must I do if I received an infraction?
Start by reading the entire back side of your notice of infraction (ticket). You must respond within fifteen (15) days of the date that the ticket was issued. An infraction is not a crime, but failure to respond can result in the suspension of your driver’s license and you may be charged with a misdemeanor. You can respond by either mailing the green ticket to the Court or bring it in person to the Clerk’s office. Select one of the boxes on the back of the ticket and verify your address. If you select box one (1) you are electing to pay the amount of the penalty as shown on the front of the ticket.
What should I wear and how should I act in court?
Since all Court proceedings are recorded, courtrooms must be quiet. Everyone is asked to be quiet and respectful of those whose proceedings are being heard. There are no childcare facilities provided by the court. Children who become noisy will be required to stay in the hall outside the courtroom under adult supervision. Suitable attire is required, shoes and shirts are necessary. Hats are to be removed upon entering the Courtroom. No smoking, food, or drink will be allowed. You do not need to check with the Clerk unless your name is NOT on the list.
What is a mitigation hearing?
A mitigation hearing is where you admit you committed the violation, but wish to explain the circumstances of the infraction. To request a mitigation hearing you should check box two (2). The Judge, depending on the explanation and your record, may adjust the penalty. However, the Judge will not dismiss your ticket. As the Court is required to forward all committed traffic tickets to the Department of Licensing, it will appear on your driving record.
What is a mitigation hearing by mail?
You may present your circumstances to the Court by mail. Once a court date is set we will send out a mitigation by mail form with your hearing notice, if you choose fill out the form and return before the date of your hearing. You will be notified by mail of the Court’s decision, the penalty amount, and the date the penalty is due.
What is a contested hearing?
If you believe you did not commit the violation then you should select box three (3) and have a contested hearing. Unless you request the officer to be subpoenaed, the procedure at the hearing will be for the Judge to read the sworn statement of the officer. Then you may testify or present any evidence or witnesses that you wish. If you want to have the officer present, you must advise the Clerk at least fourteen (14) days in advance of your court date. As a result of a contested hearing, the penalty may stay the same, be reduced, or the ticket dismissed. In the event you have subpoenaed witnesses you may be required to pay court costs. A contested infraction hearing is a civil case and the Judge will decide the case based on the preponderance of the evidence.
What is a contested hearing by mail?
You may present your circumstances to the Court by mail. Once a court date is set we will send out a contested by mail form with your hearing notice, if you choose fill out the form and return before the date of your hearing. If the infraction is found committed, you have NO right to appeal the court’s decision. You will be notified by mail of the Court’s decision, the penalty amount, and the date that the penalty is due.
What is a deferred finding?
A deferred finding is an opportunity for you to have your traffic infraction dismissed. If the court grants a deferral, you must meet all of the conditions of the deferral for the infraction to be dismissed. You may have a deferral for one moving and one non-moving infraction only once every 7 years anywhere in the state. You cannot commit another infraction within this deferral period. You must pay administrative costs in the amount of $200 or the assessed amount if higher on the face of your citation before the end of the deferral.
What is a deferred hearing by mail?
You may present your circumstances to the Court by mail. Once a court date is set we will send out a deferral by mail form with your hearing notice, if you choose fill out the form and return before the date of your hearing. You will be notified by mail of the Court’s decision, the penalty amount, and the date the penalty is due.
May I have a lawyer at a contested hearing?
You may, at your own expense, have a lawyer appear and represent you at your hearing. If you are to be represented by counsel, the lawyer is required to file a notice of appearance with the Court prior to the hearing date. A separate hearing is held when lawyers are involved and it is necessary to have sufficient notice for scheduling.
Is there a right to appeal?
If you do not win at a contested hearing you have the right to appeal to the Superior Court of Pierce County. The notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the judgment. There will be various appeal costs, payable in advance, including a $200 Superior Court filing fee, a $40 record processing fee, and the possibility of an appeal bond. If you appeal, the Superior Court will review the record that was made at the Municipal Court, but there will not be a new trial. The Clerk’s Office will provide you with the information about the appellate process and the forms necessary to file the appeal.
Will a traffic infraction appear on my driving record?
When you pay the penalty, mitigate, or if the Judge finds you have committed a traffic infraction at a contested hearing, the state law requires that the infraction be reported to the Department of Licensing. The infraction will then appear on your driving record. Neither the Court Clerk nor the Judge has the authority to keep the infraction off your record. If you win at a contested hearing and the infraction is dismissed, it is not reported to the Department of Licensing and will not appear on your driving record.
What if I do not pay my ticket or appear for a hearing?
A failure to pay or respond to the ticket within 15 days results in an order that the infraction was committed and you may be charged with a misdemeanor. If you ask for a hearing and do not appear, your payment is due immediately. When an infraction is not paid in a timely manner or a hearing is missed, a $52 late penalty is added to the amount shown on the ticket. Your license may then be suspended if the penalty is not paid following a notice to pay the increased penalty, and the account may be assigned to a collection agency.
What about a no liability insurance ticket?
If you receive a ticket for no insurance and you had insurance at the time of the ticket, you may file proof of insurance with the Court Clerk, pay $25 administrative costs, and the charge will then be dismissed and not go on your driving record. If you obtained insurance after you were given the ticket, you may file proof of the insurance with the Court Clerk and your penalty will be reduced to $250 or you may request a mitigation hearing (box2) to explain the circumstances and show your policy to the Judge. HOWEVER, YOU MUST DO EITHER WITHIN THE 15 DAY RESPONSE TIME.
If you receive a “correction notice” from the police officer, you have fifteen (15) days to correct your vehicle’s equipment problem. Then have an officer of the Milton Police Department inspect the vehicle, sign the correction notice, and file it with the Court. Once the Clerk receives the signed correction notice, the infraction will be dismissed. Failure to respond within 15 days or to appear for a scheduled hearing may result in the suspension of driving privilege, the account may be assigned to a collection agency, and you may be charged with a misdemeanor.