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Washington Court Records

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What Are Washington State Traffic Court Records?

Washington State traffic court records are legal documents and case files created, from the proceedings of the traffic courts in the state of Washington State. These include records related to moving violations & non-moving under the motor vehicle code, within the state of Washington.

Are Washington State Traffic Court Records Public Records?

Washington State traffic court records are public records. Therefore, they may be accessed and viewed by members of the public, except where these records have been restricted from public access by a judge or the law.

Which Courts in Washington State have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?

Washington traffic violations and infractions are assigned for hearing in the county where the violation was alleged to have occurred. Therefore, these cases are heard in Washington Municipal Courts and County Courts.

How Do I Find Washington State Traffic Court Records?

Any person interested in obtaining traffic court records must provide necessary information such as the first and last name of the person whose traffic court records are requested. Depending on the type of record required, whether an abbreviated or a complete abstract, the interested person may be required to provide valid identification for verification of their identity. Payment of court fees, if and where applicable, is also a prerequisite for obtaining court records in Washington State.

Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

What information is required to obtain Washington State Traffic Court Records?

Traffic court records may be available online, on each county court’s website or third-party websites. In all jurisdictions, the public may gain access to physical court records by approaching the custodian of all such records, the court clerk’s office. To view or obtain physical traffic court records from any court, the applicant may visit the court clerk’s office where the case was filed and the records were created. The applicant may be able to look through the records free of charge if they do not request a copy. Copying of court records attracts fees.

Can Washington State Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?

In the state of Washington State moving traffic violations are not eligible to be sealed or vacated from your record unless you were either not convicted of the charge, or had the charge dismissed.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in Washington State

A Washington State Uniform Traffic Infraction Ticket is usually a computer-generated long-form issued for traffic violations, by law enforcement officers. This represents a sworn statement from the officer describing the observed violation. It is issued by a state, county or municipal police or sheriff department officer and will be completed by the officer. It will show the bio-data of the offender including full name, date of birth, social security number, physical & mailing addresses (if different) and details of the license and vehicle involved.

The nature of the charge being cited for will also be listed, along with the location where the alleged offense occurred with the date and time. The statute or ordinance the offender is accused of violating will also be included on the ticket and the county where the violation occurred as well as the ID and address of the court which the offender will need to appear before. The ticketing or arresting officer will include his Officer Identification number and might include details in his own words of the incident. If the fine to be paid is not listed on the ticket, then you will need to contact the county court listed to ascertain the amount. Upon getting a citation you will be expected to sign the ticket before receiving your copy. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt, but rather an acknowledgment of the offenses you have been charged for.

Washington State traffic tickets come with financial repercussions. These could come to include penalty fines and court fees. Washington State does not utilize a points system but traffic violations are reported to the Department of Licensing, who take note of the number of tickets you receive. Obtaining 4 moving violations in 12 months or 5 within 24 months can lead to suspension or revocation of your license by the Washington State Department of Licensing (DoL).

Traffic fines in Washington State are set by the court and vary by the offense. If you do not pay on time, you will be charged additional late fees. Refer to your traffic ticket to determine your exact ticket amount, deadlines, and penalties. Ticket will include the citation (ticket) number, vehicle description and a description of the observed offense. It also has three checkboxes (for guilty and not guilty pleas) and a court return address. After receiving a traffic ticket, check one of the three boxes and send it back to the address provided on or before the due date listed on the ticket, within 15 days after receiving the ticket. Failure to respond to a traffic ticket, (within the 15 days) can result in the suspension of your driver’s license and could attract additional fines.

Traffic violations are classified as moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations are traffic laws violated by a vehicle in motion, while Non-moving violations tend to relate to parking or faulty violations. Non-moving violations also can occur when the car is moving but are differentiated by the treatment of the courts and Washington State Department of Licensing (DoL), as non-moving violations are not reported to the DoL and will not appear on your driving record.

What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Washington State?

After receiving a traffic ticket in Washington State, you are required to respond and either;

  • Plead GUILTY and pay the traffic ticket.
  • Plead GUILTY and request a mitigation hearing.
  • Plead NOT GUILTY and contest the ticket in court.

Ensure some part of either action is taken, as a failure to take any action will lead to more severe repercussions.

If you plead GUILTY to a Washington State traffic ticket, you have consented to accept responsibility for the violation and agree to all associated penalties, including all fines, fees, and surcharges arising from this plea. You have also consented to waive your right to challenge the ticket in court.

If you choose to pay your fine, you can also do so in person, via mail or online. You check the appropriate box on the ticket, which indicates your election to pay the fine and either send it in by mail or deliver personally to the county clerk office.

Your conviction will be reported to the Department of Licensing and note will be taken of the number of tickets you receive. A suspension or revocation of your driver’s license is possible. These convictions on your driving record will also most likely result in an increase in insurance payments.

You have the option of requesting a mitigation hearing where you have a chance to offer mitigating circumstances towards having your fine reduced or have other actions taken, in place of paying the full ticket fine. Decisions made by the judge at the mitigation hearing cannot be appealed.

If you choose to have a mitigation hearing, then you check the appropriate box on the ticket and send it to the relevant court. You will receive a Court Appearance Notice with a court date. By requesting a mitigation hearing, you are admitting the infraction but want to explain the circumstances and ask the judge to reduce the fine or enter deferred findings.

The court will send notice of a hearing date by mail or set one immediately if you bring your citation into the County Court office. At the hearing, the judge may adjust the penalty depending on the reasons and your record. The judge will not dismiss the infraction, and it will appear on your driving record. You may pay the penalty after the hearing, or request additional time to pay.

If you plead NOT GUILTY to a Washington State traffic ticket, you have decided to contest the ticket in court and should prepare to do so. You consent to this option by checking the appropriate box on the ticket and mailing it to the court within 15 days of receiving the ticket.

If you choose to contest the ticket, you check the appropriate box and send it to the relevant court. You will receive a Court Appearance Notice with a court date. Appear in the court on the designated day and stand for the hearing to obtain your verdict from the judge, and this will be based on the case you present so prepare accordingly. The arresting officer may also be present to testify on the traffic violation, if necessary.

If you are found to be NOT GUILTY, the case will be dismissed and there will be no need to pay the ticket fine nor will you have a conviction on your record. If the judge finds you GUILTY, you will be required to pay all fines, or face the consequences, and will have a conviction on your driving record and be reported to DoL.

You have the option to defer your ticket if you are convicted of the offense, which essentially means removing the ticket from your driving record after you:

  • Pay an administrative fee
  • Attend a traffic safety course
  • Avoid traffic infractions for 1 year
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