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Traffic Infractions and Deferrals

 

The information contained here is intended to address the most frequently asked questions and take some of the mystery out of the procedures.  It is not comprehensive and should not be construed as legal advice.  Those in need of legal advice should consult with an attorney.

 
 

What is an infraction?

Infractions are traffic and/or non-traffic tickets issued by local law enforcement agencies for minor, non-criminal offenses, and are treated as civil cases.   The judge may impose a penalty, but cannot commit you to jail.
 

What do I do if I receive an infraction?

Begin by reading the entire notice of infraction (some infractions will have instructions on the back).  Notice there are three boxes or choices.  It is important that you respond in one of those three ways within fifteen (15) days of the date the infraction was issued, or an additional penalty will be added.  An infraction is not a crime, however failure to respond could result in the suspension of your driving privileges.  You can respond by checking the appropriate box, and either mailing your copy of the infraction to the address listed on the front, or bringing it to the District Court office.  Be sure to verify that your mailing address is written correctly on the infraction.
 

Options for Responding:

  • Payment of your infraction:
    • If you select box one (1), you are electing to pay the full amount of the penalty shown on the front of the infraction, and need not appear in court.  Moving infractions will appear on your driving record. Infractions issued for not carrying proof of insurance may be dismissed if you bring in or mail proof you were insured on the date and time the infraction was issued, and pay a $ 25.00 administrative fee to the court.  Remember that you still must respond within 15 days.
  • Mitigation hearing:
    • A mitigation hearing is an informal proceeding where the judge listens to your explanation of the circumstances surrounding the commission of your infraction.  If you check box two (2), you are admitting you committed an infraction.  The Traffic infraction(s) will appear on your driving record.

  • Contest hearing:
    • You want to challenge the infractions because you do not believe you committed the infraction.  You can require witnesses, including the officer who wrote the ticket to attend the hearing.  The court will tell you how to request a witness’s appearance.  If the judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely that not) that you committed the infraction, it will go on your driving record.  If it is found the infraction did not occur, the case will be dismissed and will NOT go on your driving record.

  • Request for a Deferral:
    This option is discretionary with the Court.  You may request to Defer your infraction – (one (1) moving and one (1) non-moving infraction) once every 7 years. If you hold a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) you are NOT eligible for a Deferred Finding.
    You will be required to:
    • pay a $ 150.00 administrative fee,
    • Pay restitution to any victim
    • Not commit any traffic infractions or criminal traffic charges within 1 year
    • Comply with any other conditions set by the judge.
    If you comply with ALL conditions, the charge will be dismissed at the end of the deferral period and will not go on your driving record.  If you do not comply with the conditions as ordered, a finding of committed will be entered.  The Department of Licensing will be notified of the committed infractions.  You will be required to pay the original penalty that is noted on your infraction as well as the administrative fee.  Additional penalties may apply.

  • Submitting a written statement:  MUST BE DONE NO LATER THAN THREE DAYS PRIOR TO ANY SCHEDULED HEARING
    • Written statement may be sent within 15 days at time of initial response.
    • The Local Court rule of Mason County District Court (LIRLJ2.4)   allows you to submit an electronic statement in lieu of appearing in person at the hearing.  If you are currently scheduled for a hearing, this electronic form must be received by the clerk at least three (3) business days before the hearing. 
      No appeal may be taken from the result of this electronic hearing.
    • Procedure
 

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 within 15 days of the date the ticket was issued with the District Court and pay a $ 25.00 administrative cost, and the ticket will be dismissed and not go on your driving record.
  • If you obtained insurance after you were issued the ticket you may either
    • Request a hearing
    • Show proof of insurance to the District Court Clerk.  The clerk will reduce the fine if authorized by the judge.
 

What will happen if I do not pay my ticket or appear for a hearing?

If you do not respond to or appear for court hearings, this is what will happen to you if you received a traffic ticket:

  • The court will find that you committed the infraction.
  • You will lose your driver’s license privilege.
  • Your penalty will be increased.
  • Also, if you don’t pay, your case may be sent to a collection agency.

If you do not respond or appear for court hearings, this is what will happen to you if you received a non-traffic infraction:

  • The court will find that you committed the infraction.
  • Your penalty may be increased.
  • Also, if you don’t pay, your case may be sent to a collection agency.
 

What if I cannot pay my penalty all at once?

If you cannot pay all of your penalty at once, the Judge or Clerk will work out a time payment agreement which will include a setup fee.  This is a contract with the Court for installment payments and must be strictly adhered to.  Read the contract carefully, as a failure to follow the contract can result in late fees, a possible suspension of your license, and assignment of the account to a collection agency.
 

Will a traffic ticket appear on my driving record?

When you pay the penalty, mitigate, or if the Judge finds you have committed a traffic infraction at a contest 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 a contested hearing and the infraction is dismissed, or if you complete a Deferral, it is not reported to the Department of licensing and will not appear on your driving record.