Traffic Tickets

Being issued a traffic ticket or infraction is just about the quickest way to ruin someone's day. Whether you believe these tickets help to encourage everyone to drive safely and follow the rules of the road or you think they are just a way for the government to make money, we can all agree that these can, at best be a small inconvenience, and at worst, result in a loss of license, increased insurance rates, or in the case of a commercial driver's license holder, the loss of your job. 


Although speeding is the most common type of traffic ticket or infraction most people will have to deal with, a driver could be issued a ticket for:

  • lack of proof of insurance,
  • no valid license on person,
  • following too close,
  • failure to yield or stop,
  • failure to signal,
  • cell phone violation,
  • texting,
  • improper lane travel,
  • violation of the carpool/HOV lane,
  • or negligent driving in the second degree, just to name a few.

A committed finding of these types of tickets can result in a fine, increased insurance costs, an unfavorable mark on your driving record, and can even lead to the suspension of your license or being labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO).  The consequences can be even worse for those with a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and/or if were driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) at the time you received your ticket.


If you want to try and avoid these negative consequences happening to you, hiring an experienced and skilled traffic attorney will put you in the best position possible for a positive outcome.  Once you hire our firm, we take over everything from there. It is very unlikely you will have to appear at your contested hearing. Our goal is to take all the stress and worry about your ticket from you. Our #1 goal is always to get your ticket dismissed.  If that is unlikely or not an option, we will work to get your ticket amended to a lesser infraction, preferably a non-moving violation. See below for more details on amendments


Below you will find a small bit of information for the most common types of tickets drivers receive. This is no way an exhaustive list and so having us review your ticket is always recommended.  You will also find answers to the most common questions we receive.


If during your research you wish to talk to a member of our legal team, give us a call at 253-383-3328 or e-mail us at OFFICE@WILLIAMAWHITELAW.COM.

Speeding Tickets

A speeding ticket is the most common type of traffic infraction drivers receive. Often, the long term harm to your insurance rates is worth the cost of hiring an attorney to contest the ticket instead of simply paying it. Hiring a skilled traffic attorney puts you in the best position to obtain a favorable outcome.


A general speeding ticket will be cited under:

RCW 46.61.400, Basic Rule and Maximum Limits;

(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

(2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with subsection (1) of this section, the limits specified in this section or established as hereinafter authorized shall be maximum lawful speeds, and no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed in excess of such maximum limits.
(a) Twenty-five miles per hour on city and town streets;
(b) Fifty miles per hour on county roads;
(c) Sixty miles per hour on state highways.
The maximum speed limits set forth in this section may be altered as authorized in RCW 46.61.405, 46.61.410, and 46.61.415.
(3) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.


Fighting a speeding ticket involves knowing extensive case law, the rules of evidence, how the radar and laser devices work, the type of maintenance and calibration these machines need to function properly, you need to know how they are to be properly operated, what testimony the officer is required to provide to support the charge, and a host of other arguments and techniques.


Although fighting traffic tickets seems like an easy level of the practice of law, to do it well over a long period of time takes a certain talent and skill. Our firm has been successfully fighting traffic tickets for over 36 years! In fact, we handle the traffic tickets for the kids of many of our earlier clients.


Most of our clients will never have to step foot in a courtroom, we handle everything for you. Our attorneys may not even need to speak with you depending on the facts in the police report. This saves you time, energy, money, and stress. We believe in providing a quality service that focuses on freeing you from the headache of dealing with a speeding ticket.

Negligent Driving Second Degree - RCW 46.61.525

A traffic ticket for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is also a common ticket, but is considered a more significant traffic violation than a mere speeding ticket. A conviction for a Negligent Driving Second Degree can have a disastrous impact on your insurance rates and prosecutors will look unfavorably on your driving record anytime they are considering an amendment or if you are facing a criminal traffic charge.  In addition, the fines on this infraction are high, almost always $550.00. Ouch!


RCW 46.61.525 states:

(1)(a) A person is guilty of negligent driving in the second degree if, under circumstances not constituting negligent driving in the first degree, he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.

(b) It is an affirmative defense to negligent driving in the second degree that must be proved by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver was operating the motor vehicle on private property with the consent of the owner in a manner consistent with the owner's consent.

(c) Negligent driving in the second degree is a traffic infraction and is subject to a penalty of two hundred fifty dollars.

(2) For the purposes of this section, "negligent" means the failure to exercise ordinary care, and is the doing of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances or the failure to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances.

(3) Any act prohibited by this section that also constitutes a crime under any other law of this state may be the basis of prosecution under such other law notwithstanding that it may also be the basis for prosecution under this section.


These infractions can be issued either when the officer witnesses your driving and thus can act as a better witness for the government because they have personal knowledge of the driving.  This infraction can also be issued as a result of an accident, often without the officer even witnessing the accident. These infractions are always fact specific, because the law enforcement officer has to provide enough details to show you were operating your vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property. Thus, speed alone is usually insufficient without more. 


Hiring an experienced skilled traffic attorney familiar with fighting this type of an infraction is critical to give yourself the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. This infraction involves more than just an allegation of speed, and rarely do people representing themselves succeed on these types of tickets. Do yourself a favor and hire an experienced traffic attorney that will know how to fight this ticket. Our firm has over 36 years of experience fighting Negligent Driving in the Second Degree infractions all over Washington.


When an officer makes a determination that you were at fault for an accident, you should worry about more than just the fine.  First, an accident where you are found to be at fault can raise your insurance rates. Second, insurance companies will often point to the fact that the officer found you at fault for the accident when analyzing civil claims. Fighting these types of tickets can have a greater impact than simply the cost of the ticket.


The most common tickets associated with an accident are:

  • Following too closely - RCW 46.61.145
  • Negligent Driving 2nd degree - RCW 46.61.525
  • Right of way infractions - RCW 46.61.180-220 - this includes failing to stop, failing to yield, Vehicle's entering the highway from private road or driveway, and failure to properly signal

Fighting these types of infractions often hinge upon the fact that the officer was not present when the accident occurred. Thus, the government must rely on statements made by you, the other driver and witnesses, if any.  The government may also have some physical evidence or expert testimony if the officer is trained as an accident re-constructionist.


These types of tickets are always very fact specific and will often guide what an attorney will need to do to present the best case for you. This could be interviewing witnesses, taking pictures at the scene with you, preparing and obtaining declarations in support of your case, even hiring an expert to testify.

Other Infractions

Although speeding tickets and tickets involving accidents are the most common type of infractions issued by law enforcement, there are numerous types of infractions available to them.  Whether you are cited for failure to stop at a stop sign, driving in the HOV lane, failing to signal when changing lanes or turning, making an improper turn, or anyone of the numerous statutes you could violate, our firm has the attorneys skilled in fighting any type of infraction you may be cited with.


Not sure if a ticket is a moving or non-moving violation, and thus worth fighting. First, check the RCW or statute you are cited under online, and that should tell you. Still confused? Give us a call at 253-383-3328 or e-mail us at and we'll see if you need an attorney or not.

Commercial Drivers

No matter the violation, the consequences to Commercial Drivers License holders and businesses owners who receive tickets in their Commercial Motor Vehicles can be severe and put your job or business at risk.


If you fall into this category, call us today to find out why you should always hire an attorney to contest a ticket. We have a long history of fighting over-weight tickets, defective equipment, registration tickets, and accidents where the commercial driver was found at fault, just to name a few.  


We work closely with several business in the industry and understand the unique facts and circumstances of driving commercial motor vehicles and the critical need to obtain a favorable result when a person has a CDL or a business operates commercial motor vehicles. 


In addition, these tickets are more complicated than a normal traffic ticket due to the injection of Federal guidelines, not only as to laws, regulations, and equipment, but also in the way prosecutors and judges approach these tickets. Hiring a firm with experience in this area of traffic infractions is critical to put you in the best position to obtain a positive result.


If you have a CDL and got a ticket in your personal vehicle, or you got a ticket while driving a CMV, or you are a business owner operating in CMVs, and one of your driver's got a ticket,

give us a call at 253-383-3328 or e-mail at today!


I got a ticket, what are my options?

Generally, when you receive an infraction you have a few options.

  1. Pay the fine - In doing this, you are admitting that you committed the infraction, you must pay the fine listed on the ticket (failure to do so can lead to your license being suspended and/or being sent to collections).  In addition, the committed finding will be listed on your Abstract Driving Record and often will negatively affect your insurance rates.
  2. Mitigation Hearing - In requesting a mitigation hearing you are admitting that you committed the infraction, but will be asking the court to reduce the fine.  As above, because you are admitting that you committed the infraction you will be found "guilty" and will face all of the same negative consequences listed above, but hopefully, a smaller fine than listed on the ticket.
  3. Contested Hearing - In requesting a contested hearing you are NOT admitting that you committed the infraction and are challenging this fact. When you request a contested hearing, you will receive a hearing date and must appear on that date. A contested hearing calendar is usually an hour or two and you should clear your schedule for that amount of time as you never know how long it will take.  Failing to appear will result in a committed finding, the issuance of the fine, and the Failure to Appear will be reported to the Dept. of Licensing. Depending on the court you could be facing a prosecutor who may call the officer and/or State experts to prove their case. You will have to present your defense on your on to the judge and you have the ability to subpoena the officer, call witnesses, and present evidence. However, you will still be held to the standard of a licensed attorney even though you are representing yourself "pro se." If you lose a contested hearing you can appeal it to a higher court. 

If this sounds daunting, your other option would be to hire an experienced skilled traffic attorney to contest the ticket for you; you very likely would not have to show up to court, the attorney would appear for you and do all the work, and hiring an attorney would put you in the best position for a favorable outcome. Hmmm...that sounds better to me. (but I'm biased)

  1. Contested Hearing by Affidavit - Some courts allow you to contest your ticket by simply mailing in an affidavit laying out your argument. If you choose this option you will not have to appear for a hearing in court, but you are not able to appeal the decision should you lose.
  2. Deferred Prosecution - This option is only available once every 7 years and you may use this once for a moving violation and once for a non-moving violation during that 7 years.  When entering into a deferred prosecution you will be required to pay a fee and you cannot have any new violations within a set term, usually 1 year or 6 months.  Each court handles these a little differently including the amount of the fee, the amount of time you must remain violation free, and if you receive a new ticket, whether the mere issuance of the ticket will revoke your deferral or whether the new ticket must be found committed. If you do receive a new ticket and you are found to be in violation and your deferred ticket is revoked, it will be found committed, and depending on the court, you may have to pay an additional fine on the revoked ticket.

What is the burden of proof for a traffic ticket?

A traffic ticket or infraction is a civil suit against you and the government. The standard of proof needed to convict you is a preponderance of the evidence. This is generally described with the example of a scale, and if the scale tips ever slightly for one side, say 51% to 49%, then they win.


This is far less demanding level of proof than a criminal case which requires guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  This means that the government need not overcome a high burden making it much easier for the judge to find you committed the infraction.


In addition, because this is a civil case, you do not have the normal Constitutional rights we are all familiar with. These means that the state need not produce all of its witnesses at a hearing and what is required to admit evidence is easier.

Do I need to hire an attorney?

You don't have to hire an attorney, but it will put you in the best possible position to receive a favorable outcome. An experienced and skilled traffic attorney will be more familiar with what evidence is necessary for the judge to find you committed the infraction, the foundation required for the judge to admit any evidence the government will attempt to use, and how to effectively cross-examine any of the government's witnesses, among other challenges.  


Hiring a skilled traffic attorney will put you in the best position to have your ticket dismissed. However, even if all the evidence is stacked against you, if a prosecutor is present, a skilled attorney can often negotiate with the prosecutor to have your moving violation amended to a non-moving violation, and a small fine, which should avoid an increase in your insurance rates.

If I hire your firm, what happens next?

If you decide to hire us to handle your traffic ticket we will take over the entire process for you once we receive your payment and cause number.


We will let the court and the prosecutor know that we are your attorney and we will make a request for any and all discovery the government intends to use. Discovery is just a fancy word for "stuff" that the government will use to try and convince the judge you committed the infraction.


Once we receive the discovery, often just a police report, we may or may not need to discuss it with you. It is at this stage when we will decide whether you will need to be present for the hearing or not. Usually, the only reason we would need you present at the hearing is if the officer has written in their report statements attributed to you, that the judge could interpret as a confession.  If you did not make the statements written, you may need to be present to combat them. Although sometimes we can avoid your presence by having you sign a written declaration which is used as your testimony.  The reason for this is because the standard of proof is lower in these cases and many judges believe that a confession is enough to reach the preponderance threshold.


However, for the large majority of our clients, they will never have to step foot in a court room. We will appear on your behalf at the contested hearing to fight on your behalf.


All infraction cases are different and very fact specific. In addition, the court you are in, and whether a prosecutor is present or not, can drastically change how the evidence is used, and ultimately the outcome or options available.


If your case looks weak, or due to the court you are in, there is a concern that your ticket may be found committed regardless of our best arguments, if necessary, prior to your contest hearing, we will discuss your options.  Often, the most critical aspect of the conversation is whether you would accept an amendment to a non-moving violation, thus avoiding an increase in your insurance rates, but that also carries a fine.


We will discuss these options with you prior to your hearing so that you can make the decision if this is something you are interested in doing. Whether accepting an amendment is something you want to do should always be your decision, not your attorneys.  An experienced traffic attorney not only knows the law but also what prosecutors and judges will or won't accept in these types of matters. Knowing what arguments a judge will or won't accept helps to put you in a stronger position as to whether accepting an amendment offer is right for you or whether fighting is better. Like any other profession, an attorney should be able to layout your options so that you can make the best  decision for you.


See below to learn more about the amendment process in more detail.

Will I have to do anything besides paying a fine?

Our goal on a ticket is always a dismissal. Sometimes that is possible, sometimes not. If dismissal is not an option, depending on your history (how many tickets you've had lifetime and type) getting a prosecutor to amend a charge can become more complicated.  


In order to obtain the best result possible, sometimes that requires more than simply paying a fine.  The most common tools we can use to get a dismissal or an amendment are:

  • Defensive Driving School (this could be in-person or online),
  • Community service,
  • Work crew,
  • or even an anger management class

We believe we are only limited by our creativity and what the prosecutor will accept. For some drivers, the need to keep a ticket off their record is more important than having to do a little work to get there.


Although the best answer to the above question is "It Depends," we will make sure to always discuss these options with you before accepting any offer like this. The choice should always be yours and not your attorney. Why? Because you have to spend the money or the time, not your attorney.


Nonetheless, having these alternatives can be a great tool to achieve a positive result, especially for people who's driving record is of paramount importance. Having an experienced traffic attorney that is familiar with all the tools available puts you in the best position to have your ticket resolved in a positive manner.

Do you offer a money back guarantee like some firms?

It was not until recently that this question ever came up. There seems to be growing number of firms and on-line companies that offer a money back guarantee on traffic tickets.


Their pitch goes something like this, "If we don't get your ticket dismissed, amended, or deferred, you don't pay."  If this seems like the deal of the century, by all means hire one of those firms. However, our firm does not offer money back guarantees for a number of reasons.


First, no attorney can guarantee a result, especially without seeing the police report and knowing all the facts. Our clients hire us for our experience, skill, knowledge, creativity, and ability to obtain great results. It is our professionalism, communication skills, and outcomes which has resulted in our clients not only being fiercely loyal but consistently referring their friends and family to us for nearly 36 years. 


Second, we believe the above stated offer puts the attorney and client in a position that is disconcerting and borderline inappropriate, according to, not only the sacred attorney-client relationship, but also our Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs).  Our state bar has not forbid this type of offer, and may never do so, nonetheless, this type of relationship has the potential to put the attorney's ability to earn income at odds with what is best for the client.  We believe the client should be included in and ultimately make the decision on whether to fight,  to accept an offer, or use their once in seven year deferral, not the attorney.  Our job is to use all of the attributes above to help you make a knowledgeable decision about what's best for you. We don't believe the long term relationship should be sacrificed for short term gain. We are confident in our abilities and the years of satisfied customers and referral business is more than enough proof for us. If you are still not sure, give us a call and speak with one of our experienced attorneys and see if we can't convince you of our ability.

Can you explain the amendment process in more detail?

Absolutely! Most drivers want to fight a traffic ticket to avoid increased insurance premiums. For most insurance companies, certain moving or non-moving violations will not impact the cost of your insurance. This means that in a court where there is a prosecutor present it provides an additional way to obtain a desired result. Some prosecutors will offer this to pro se defendants as well, but you will have a better chance of receiving a favorable amendment if you hire an attorney. Moreover, an experienced traffic attorney will always try to find a way to get the case dismissed first, before looking to obtain an amendment.


Having this option available can be very helpful when faced with an unwinnable case, a difficult judge, or when the risk to fight and lose is too great for that driver. As stated above, your attorney should discuss all of your options prior to your contested hearing rather than just making this decision for you without consulting you first.


When accepting an amendment to a non-moving violation there will still be a fine associated with the amendment because you will be found committed on the non-moving violation. This fine can range from a cost below the price on the original ticket to several hundred dollars more.


This price difference depends on your record, the facts of the case, and which court you are in. It is this reason why a prosecutor would be willing to offer an amendment, the government gets a little money and doesn't have to have a full contested hearing, and the driver gets a break and hopefully learns their lesson.


Occasionally, in order to obtain an amendment, depending on the driver's record and the facts of the case some prosecutors will require the driver to do more than simply pay a fine. The most common add-ons are community service, defense driving school (either online or in-person), or proof of restitution if the case involved damage to another's property. Again, your attorney should obtain your authority to accept an amendment prior to accepting it, especially if it involves these add-ons.

If you or a family member was issued a traffic ticket, give us a call at 253-383-3328 or e-mail us at and let us take care of the stress of dealing with your ticket. Your time is valuable, let an experienced traffic attorney fight your ticket for you!