Traffic Violation Laws in Washington

The traffic violation laws in Washington do not include a demerit point system but do penalize repeated violations. Washington's Department of Licensing (DOL) does not operate under a demerit point system. There are penalties, including license suspension and revocation, for repeat speeding tickets or other violations that are considered to demonstrate a pattern of unsafe driving. Drivers must obey traffic violation laws in Washington, all of which are stipulated in the state's driver handbook.

Repercussions of Multiple Traffic Violations in Washington

Here is how the Washington DOL outlines the repercussions of multiple traffic tickets or other citations. A Washington driver will receive a 30-day license suspension for four moving violations during a one-year period, five moving violations during a two-year period, although some drivers might be able to avoid suspension by attending a DOL-approved driver awareness meeting.

The Washington DOL gives the following common reasons for a license to be suspended, revoked, or canceled include failure to appear in court or pay a traffic ticket and driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants (DUI).

What to Do When You Get a Ticket in Washington?

If you are given a traffic citation by law enforcement, the ticket is processed not by the DOL, but by the court in the jurisdiction where you were given the ticket. You will typically have the choice of either paying a fine or appearing in court on the date and time listed on the ticket.

If you do neither, the judge might issued a bench warrant for your arrest on the charge of "failure to appear." While paying the fine is simplest, it means that you have pleaded guilty to the charge of the citation, and it will appear on your driving record.

If you've already had a number of tickets and are at risk for having your license suspended, it may be worth fighting the ticket in court. It is advisable, if you choose to fight, that you hire an attorney experienced in traffic violation laws in Washington.

If you actually were speeding, it may still be worthwhile to contest the ticket. This will preserve your rights under the law. Committing the infraction does not necessarily imply that you deserve the ticket. Also, it is entirely possible the issuing order violated procedure when issuing the ticket, and also entirely possible that the issuing officer may not, for whatever reason, show up in court on your court date, thus negating the charge.

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