Common Traffic Law Questions And Answers

At Heritage Law Office, we are frequently asked questions about speeding tickets, DUI charges and other traffic violations.  Below, we have provided answers to some of the most common questions we receive.  We have also provided a section on common traffic myths that may be helpful.  For more information, contact our law office in Cle Elum, Washington.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers:

Should I fight my traffic ticket?  Is it worth the time and cost?

Answer: A speeding ticket or other traffic ticket will impact your driving record and may cause a sharp rise in your auto insurance rates.    If you receive multiple tickets, your license may be suspended (see below for further information).

Even if you were simply over the speed limit or violated another traffic law, there are defenses that may be available to you.  Traffic laws are highly technical.    Law enforcement errors and technical defenses may be used to obtain a dismissal of tickets in some cases.  Even in cases in which a dismissal is not possible, there are several ways that we may be able to protect your driving record and/or minimize the impact of your traffic ticket.

We offer reasonable rates and we are known for our willingness to provide candid advice to prospective clients.    If we do not feel that it is in your interest to retain our services, we will tell you so.

Will I have to miss work to fight a traffic ticket?

Answer: For speeding tickets and the vast majority of traffic tickets, the answer is "no."  You may have to attend certain court proceedings for traffic offenses that constitute a criminal offense, such as DUI (or in other select situations).    If retained as your counsel, we will advise you if you need to attend a hearing.  Otherwise, your presence is not required (you may attend if you wish to do so).  Contact our office for a free phone consultation to learn more.

What is a deferred prosecution?

Answer: Washington allows a person to defer one nonmoving and one moving violation every seven years.  Deferrals are not allowed for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders or for certain traffic violations.  The court will impose a fee, generally $150 or more, depending on the original charge.  The court may also require other things, such as completing an online defensive driving class.  The court will require that the defendant have no further driving infractions for six to 18 months (set by the court).  If you obtain another violation within that period of time, you will be required to pay the original fine and the ticket will be reported to the Department of Licensing (DOL).  If you meet all of the requirements, the ticket will be dismissed and will not be reported to the DOL.

If you do not believe you can go six to 18 months without another infraction, this is not a good choice.  We generally recommend that young drivers do not use a deferral for their first speeding ticket or other minor traffic tickets because they may need their deferral for a more serious traffic violation at a later date (however, each case is unique).  Cases involving older drivers also require a careful case-by-case evaluation.  Please contact our office for a free phone consultation to learn more.

Can my driver's license be suspended if I receive several traffic tickets?

Answer: Yes.  If you receive too many speeding tickets or other moving violations in a short period of time, your license will be suspended or you will be placed on probation (conditional status).

If you receive six moving violations in 12 months, your license will be suspended for 60 days.  If you receive four moving violations in 12 months or five moving violations in 24 months, you may be placed on probation (conditional status) for one year.  Once your license is placed in conditional status, you are subject to a 30-day suspension if you receive two moving violations in a 12-month period for "continuing offenses."  After your license is reinstated following "continuing offenses," you will still be placed on probation (conditional status) for another year, during which time a single moving violation will trigger an additional license suspension.

What is a habitual traffic offender?

Answer: Washington has a habitual traffic offender statute [RCW 46.65.020]. It is a complicated statute.  If you have many tickets, you could be at risk.  Among other ways, you could be considered an HTO if within five years you have:

  • Three or more serious driving offenses such as DUI, driving while license suspended (DWLS), hit and run or reckless driving or
  • 20 or more traffic infractions

Individuals who have violated Washington's habitual traffic offender statute will be notified of their right to a hearing.  If they do not request a hearing in a timely fashion, as defined by statute, their right to a hearing is waived.  If a driver is found to be a habitual traffic offender, he or she is subject to a seven-year driver's license revocation (a stay of the revocation may be granted in limited circumstances).  The driver may file a petition with the DOL after four years to seek reinstatement of his or her license.  The DOL may grant the petition upon good and sufficient showing or may deny it if it finds insufficient cause to reinstate the petitioner's driving privileges.

Common Traffic Myths

Here are a few common traffic myths and a few tips that may be helpful:

  • It is not a defense to a speeding ticket that you were driving with the flow of traffic.
  • It is not a defense that you were driving only a few miles over the posted limit.
  • It is not a defense that you did not know the posted speed limit.
  • It is not a defense that you did not know that you were speeding.
  • It may be a defense that you were speeding to pass a slow vehicle, but only if you are on a two-lane highway (only in certain circumstances and in a limited manner as defined by statute). This defense only works on two-lane highways and is not applicable to four-lane highways OR TWO-LANE HIGHWAYS WITH A TEMPORARY PASSING LANE.
  • Not all U-turns are prohibited.
  • You may be convicted of DUI even if you tested at below the . 08 legal limit. The question is whether you were impaired. If an officer sees your vehicle swerving or otherwise concludes that your ability to drive safely was impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs, you can be arrested and could be convicted of DUI.
  • There are many defenses to a DUI charge, even if you were over the legal limit.

Contact A Traffic Law Attorney Right Away

We serve clients in Kittitas County and throughout Eastern, Central and Western Washington.  To speak with us about a traffic law matter, contact our law office in Cle Elum for a free phone consultation.  Call 509-899-5375 or 425-397-9400.