Law & Legal & Attorney Traffic Law

How to Take a Ticket to Washington State Court

    • 1). Examine the scene and record your observations immediately after receiving your ticket. Look for signs stating parking rules, malfunctioning signals, confusing speed limit signs or other extenuating circumstances, then document them. Take notes about the weather, photos of important things in your surroundings or video of broken traffic lights. If you do not do this when you receive your ticket, you still might be able to dispute it, but it will be more difficult with no concurrent proof.

    • 2). Inspect your ticket. Determine whether it is fully completed, whether the officer's badge and name are listed and whether the time of day, date, make and model of your car, street names and other identifying information is accurate. If it is not, know that tickets often are thrown out for lack of substantial evidence, so close attention to detail will benefit you. Make note of the incomplete or incorrect entries and add them to your collection of evidence.

    • 3). Mail the ticket to the court after checking the box on the back indicating that you wish to contest the ticket. Send it in within the listed time period -- generally 15 business days -- otherwise you will forfeit your right to contest. Your appearance in court most likely is optional if you decide to plead guilty and pay your fine, unless your offense involves serious bodily injury to others or large amounts of property damage, is classified as a felony, is a DUI or carries a large fine or jail time.

    • 4). Read the response the court mails you closely. It will list the time, place and date of the hearing, which will take place -- at the earliest -- seven days after the mailing date of the response.

    • 5). Attend your court date. If the ticket is minor, the issuing officer might not appear; if so, the charges likely will be dropped. If the officer does appear, you likely will have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor ahead of time. If you do not feel your case is strong, discuss a plea bargain option with the prosecutor. If you feel confident that you are in the right, present your evidence to the judge. The judge will evaluate your notes, photos and/or video and make a decision based on the strength of your proof and that of the officer.

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