Written by Stryder Wegener
You were driving through Seattle, cruising down the I-5, or trying to avoid traffic on the 99 when suddenly there are lights behind you. For a moment, you hope they are for an emergency somewhere else. Unfortunately, the lights and siren stick with you, so you pull over. The officer checks your driver’s license, registration, and insurance, and then hands you a ticket that says you were speeding. What do you do next? The ticket has a date on it, and you need to respond by then. At Emerald City Law Group, we recommend contacting a traffic lawyer to guide you through the process.
The Consequences of a Speeding Ticket
At Emerald City Law Group, we are often asked whether it is worth it to get a lawyer for a speeding ticket. The answer is that it depends. Before you decide whether to hire a lawyer, you should be fully aware of the potential consequences of speeding in Seattle.
If you’re found guilty of speeding, or you agree you violated the law, you must pay a fine. The base amount depends on the speed limit for the area and how much faster you were driving. You must also pay various fees and assessments. Keep in mind this is not going to be your only expense. Your auto insurance premiums can go up after one or more speeding tickets.
Washington does not use a driver’s license points system like many other states. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for getting multiple tickets. If you receive four moving violations in a 12-month period or five tickets in a 24-month period, then you will be placed on probation for one year. During probation, if you get two more tickets, your license is suspended for 30 days, and then you face another year of probation. If you receive a sixth traffic ticket in the 12 months, your license will be suspended without a probationary period.
When it comes to deciding to hire a lawyer, consider the long-term cost of a speeding ticket and your driving record. If you have had multiple tickets in the past year or two, you may want to fight hard against another moving violation.
How Much Work Are You Prepared to Do?
If your speeding ticket was written by the Seattle Police Department, then the system is technically set up for you to be able to respond yourself. You have three options: pay the fine, request a mitigation hearing, or request a contested hearing.
You can pay the fine in full. This is the same as pleading guilty, and the traffic ticket will go on your record. We do not recommend automatically paying a speeding ticket, but if this is what you decide to do, you do not need an attorney.
You may request a mitigation hearing with a magistrate. This means you agree you were speeding, but you believe there are elements to your situation that a judge should hear and take into consideration. A mitigation hearing is not the process for fighting a ticket. You can either appear in person or in writing for mitigation. This process can sound appealing. The mitigation hearing makes it seem like you may get a lenient sanction, such as a reduced fine, without having to go to court. Or, your ticket may be reduced to a less serious infraction. However, mitigation carries risk. Once the magistrate makes a decision, it is final, and you cannot appeal.
If you wish to fight the ticket, then request a contested hearing. Your first court date may be the pre-hearing settlement conference. This is your first opportunity to resolve the matter. You can also waive the pre-trial conference and prepare for your hearing right away. At the hearing, you must be ready to argue before a judge about why the ticket should be dismissed. The judge expects a fact-based argument supporting the assertion that you were not speeding.
A Traffic Lawyer From Emerald City Law Group Can Help You
When you want to fight or mitigate a speeding ticket in Seattle, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced traffic lawyer. Our traffic attorneys at Emerald City Law Group are well-versed in the court process, and we are not afraid to negotiate with prosecutors. By hiring a traffic lawyer, you improve your chance of a fair outcome to your ticket.