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Traffic Infraction FAQ

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P.O. Box 1220
Port Townsend, 
WA 98368

Dist Court: 360.385.9135
Probation: 360.385.9123
Fax: 360.385.9367

Monday - Friday
8:30 to 4:30


Can I Keep My Traffic Ticket ďOff My RecordĒ?

If you have received a traffic infraction, you may be eligible for a deferral if you request a mitigation hearing. (It is the court's general policy to deny deferrals where a contested hearing is requested. In those situations, the defendant does not believe they committed the infraction and a hearing is held to determine whether the prosecution can prove they committed the infraction.) By successfully completing a deferral, the Court will not report your ticket to the Department of Licensing (DOL). You may defer only one moving and one non-moving infraction each seven years. The length of deferral is one year. To complete your deferral, you must (1) pay an administrative fee equal to the penalty amount shown on the face of your infraction, and (2) not commit a new traffic infraction for one year. If you commit a new traffic infraction at any location during your deferral the Court will report your deferred ticket as a conviction to DOL. Four infractions listed below do not qualify for this Courtís deferral program. Additionally, the infraction of Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Liability Insurance may be deferred only if you show proof that you are now insured at the time you request a deferral.

How Do I Ask the Court to Defer My Infraction?
In your written or e-mail response explaining the circumstances of the infraction you wish mitigated, include a request for a deferral. If you are licensed to drive in a state other than Washington, you will be required to provide a certified copy of your driving record from the state where you are licensed.

When Must I Appear to Request a Deferral?  
Please request the deferral at least 5 working days before any scheduled hearing on your traffic infraction. By appearing before your scheduled hearing, the Court can cancel witnesses who may be subpoenaed for your hearing. The Court will not consider deferral requests on the day of a scheduled traffic infraction hearing if witnesses have been subpoenaed for and appear at your hearing.

What Does It Cost to Defer My Infraction?
You must pay the face amount of your traffic infraction as an administrative fee. The Court uses this fee to check your eligibility for deferral and to monitor your compliance with deferral terms.

What If I Fail to Pay the Administrative Fee for my Deferral ?
The Court will end your deferral and will report to the Department of Licensing (DOL) that you committed your traffic violation. In addition, a $52.00 penalty will be assessed against you, a case FTA ordered and notification sent to DOL to begin processing your driver's license for suspension. There are no exceptions to this policy.

What If I Commit a New Traffic Infraction?
The Court will end your deferral and will report to DOL that you committed your traffic infraction. There are no exceptions to this policy.

What Infractions Do Not Qualify for Deferral?
The Court does not allow deferral for these four infractions:
Passing a School Bus
Speeding in a School Zone
Speeding in a Construction Zone
Any Infraction Where a Fatality Occurred

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 receive an infraction for "failure to display proof of liability insurance" and you were insured at the time of the infraction, you may file proof of your insurance with the court along with a $25 administrative fee, and the infraction will then be dismissed and not go on your driving record.  If you obtained insurance after you were issued the infraction, you may request a mitigation hearing to explain the circumstances and show your insurance proof to the judge. The judge generally reduces the penalty substantially. However, you must respond as described above within the 15 days required by your notice of infraction.

What if I cannot afford to pay the penalty in full?
If you need to arrange to make several payments over time, or need to arrange for community service instead of payment, you will need to request a hearing to explain this to the judge.  Check box two (2), verify your address, sign the infraction and mail or deliver it to the court, within the 15 day time period. (And be sure to appear for 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 driverís 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.  Partial payments are not acceptable at this point.  The court may reconsider its decision if good cause is shown for your failure to respond, appear or pay. T o schedule a "good cause" hearing, you must file a written request for a "good cause" hearing and personally appear at the scheduled hearing date.  If more than one year has passed since your failure to respond, appear or pay, the court may not allow a "good cause" hearing.

Is there a 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 courtís decision against you.  You will be responsible for the costs of an appeal, which include a $200 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.

How do I know what court to go to for my traffic ticket?
The courtís name, address and telephone number should be printed on your copy
. If you have lost your copy contact the District Court. Most courts now have computer access to an index of cases filed in most limited jurisdiction courts in the state.  Even if you go to the wrong court office, court staff should be able, in most cases, to direct you to the correct court.



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