Fight Traffic Ticket in Washington

SUMMARY: How to Fight a Washington Traffic Ticket

In Washington, you'll need to request either a contested hearing (to plead "not guilty" and fight your traffic ticket) or a mitigation hearing (to reduce your fine). Check your WA traffic ticket for instructions on how to submit your hearing request, or contact the appropriate traffic court directly.

Be sure respond to your traffic ticket within 15 days to avoid extra penalties.

Read this page to learn how to fight your Washington traffic ticket.

Fighting Your WA Traffic Ticket

In Washington you must choose from one of three options after receiving a traffic ticket, as indicated on the citation:

  • Payment.
  • Request a mitigation hearing.
  • Request a contested hearing.

Follow the directions on your WA traffic ticket. Regardless of plea, it must be entered before the due date on the traffic ticket. In most cases, this will be 15 days from the infraction date. If you can't find your ticket, learn what steps to take in our Lost Traffic Ticket page.

Pay Ticket
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)

  • Pay the fine.
  • Option to plea bargain penalties.
  • Incur points on your driving record (could lead to license suspension/revocation).
  • Possibly incur increase on auto insurance rates.
Learn more about
Paying Your Traffic Ticket.

Fight Ticket
(Plead Not Guilty)

  • Contest traffic ticket via trial.
  • Choose to represent yourself or hire an attorney.
  • Possibly lose option to plea bargain for lesser penalties.
  • No penalties if found not guilty, but must pay court/attorney fees.
Learn more by reading below.

What It Means to Fight Your Traffic Ticket

To challenge your WA traffic ticket in court, you must check "request a contested hearing" on the ticket itself. This means:
  • You want to fight the charge in court with the intent of having the charges reduced or dropped.
  • You may represent yourself or choose a traffic ticket lawyer.
  • Charges will be dropped if the traffic court rules in your favor. You still must pay court fees and legal fees (if applicable).
  • If the court finds you "guilty," you must pay the traffic ticket fine, court fees, and legal fees (if applicable). Depending on your driving record, your WA driver's license may also be suspended.

Payment or Mitigation Hearing

Both traffic ticket plea choices are admissions of guilt, which means the violation will appear on your WA driving record. If you opt for a mitigation hearing, you will appear before the court with the chance to explain the circumstances that led to your ticket, with the hope of receiving a reduced fine. Learn more on our Pay Traffic Ticket page.

Notify the WA Traffic Court

You must answer to the court―Municipal or District―listed on your traffic ticket. You may do this by mail or in person.

Hire a Washington Traffic Ticket Attorney

If your budget allows, strongly consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer. Legal counsel will improve your chances for reduced charges or the outright dismissal of the traffic ticket and, depending on your driving history, a favorable decision may spare you from a suspended driver's license.

Prepare Your Case

If you opt against a traffic ticket lawyer in Washington, you're in charge of preparing and presenting your case. This means gathering evidence supporting your " not guilty" plea. Call the presiding traffic court for information on how to subpoena witnesses.

Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

After hearing both sides, the judge will issue a verdict.

If found " guilty," the violation will appear on your driving record and you'll be instructed on how to settle all fines and fees. Remember, you possess the option to appeal the court's decision.

Check Your WA Driving Record

Regardless of verdict, check your driving record after the trial to verify your list of violations. Immediately contact the WA Department of Licensing (DOL) if you notice any errors.

Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

The appearance of a traffic violation on your WA driving record may cause a jump in your car insurance coverage. Counter a rate hike by shopping online for a new provider

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