Pay Traffic Citation in Washington

Driving in Washington, like any other state, comes with a set of rules and regulations that must be followed. While everyone does their best to abide by these rules, it is not uncommon for drivers to receive a traffic ticket from time to time. If you find yourself facing a traffic ticket in Washington, it’s essential to know the proper steps to take to resolve the matter efficiently.

Paying your Washington traffic ticket can be a straightforward process, as long as you are aware of your options and act within the designated time frame. Generally, motorists must submit their traffic ticket payments within 15 days to avoid facing harsh penalties imposed by the corresponding court and the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) source. Remember, pleading “guilty” means waiving your right to challenge your ticket in court. However, it enables you to pay your fine online, by mail, or by phone, which allows you to avoid going to the court source.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you understand the process of paying traffic tickets in Washington, the available payment methods, and any other essential information you need. We aim to make the process as stress-free and clear as possible for you.

Understanding Traffic Tickets in Washington

Traffic tickets in Washington are issued for various reasons such as speeding, running a red light, or other traffic violations. When you receive a WA traffic ticket, it’s essential to understand how to handle it properly to avoid any further complications or penalties.

In Washington, you generally have 15 days to address your traffic ticket. You have a few options for handling the citation: pay the ticket, request a mitigation hearing, or request a contested hearing. Each option has its consequences and different processes.

Paying your traffic ticket is considered pleading guilty to the traffic violation and accepting the fine associated with it. You can pay the fine online, by mail, by phone, or in person. It’s essential to check your traffic ticket for specific payment options and instructions related to your case.

If you choose to request a mitigation hearing, you’re acknowledging your violation but have the chance to explain the circumstances to a judge. While this option may not dismiss the ticket, it can potentially reduce the fines or penalties associated with the violation.

Requesting a contested hearing means you plead not guilty and wish to fight the ticket in court. If you choose this option, you may represent yourself or hire an attorney to help you contest the traffic violation. While this choice can potentially result in no penalties if found not guilty, remember that court and attorney fees may apply.

Remember to address your Washington traffic ticket within the allotted time frame, as failing to do so can lead to harsher penalties imposed by the corresponding court and the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).

Washington State Traffic Violations

Common Violations

In Washington State, traffic violations include various offenses, such as speeding, running a red light, driving without insurance, and failure to yield. These violations can be classified as infractions, misdemeanors, or even felonies, depending on the severity and the potential harm they cause.

  • Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limit is one of the most common traffic violations.
  • Running a red light: Failing to stop at a red traffic signal can lead to accidents and is another common violation.
  • Driving without insurance: Washington State law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, and driving without it can result in penalties.
  • Failure to yield: Not yielding to pedestrians or other vehicles when required can also be a traffic violation.

Penalties and Fines

Traffic violations in Washington State can result in various penalties and fines, depending on the severity of the offense and the driver’s history. The penalties may include:

  1. Fines: Most traffic violations come with a monetary fine. The amount may vary based on factors such as the type of violation, the driver’s history, and the county where the violation occurred.
  2. Points on driving records: Traffic violations can also lead to points being added to your driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to higher insurance premiums and, in some cases, license suspension.
  3. License suspension: Severe or repeated traffic violations can result in a temporary or permanent suspension of your driver’s license.
  4. Traffic school: Some violators may be required to attend traffic school as part of their penalty or to reduce points on their driving record.

Fines and penalties can be paid within 15 days of receiving the traffic ticket online, by mail, by phone, or in person, depending on the county where the citation was issued. Failure to pay or contest the ticket within the specified timeframe can lead to additional penalties.

To avoid penalties, it is crucial for drivers to comply with Washington State traffic laws and exercise caution while on the road.

Impact on Driving Record and Car Insurance

A traffic ticket in Washington can impact your driving record and car insurance premiums. When you receive a ticket, it gets recorded on your driving record and can remain there for 3 years.

The state uses the point system to track drivers’ violations, accumulating points for each traffic infraction. As these points add up, your car insurance provider may increase your rates, as they consider you a higher risk driver. It’s essential to understand how points are assigned and their potential consequences on your insurance rates.

In addition to affecting insurance premiums, accumulating too many points on your driving record can lead to license suspension. The Washington DMV point system helps authorities monitor drivers with repeat violations and maintain road safety by penalizing them accordingly. Depending on the severity and frequency of the infractions, license suspension can happen.

To avoid facing the negative consequences of traffic tickets, drivers must take action and resolve them promptly. In Washington, you can choose from one of three options upon receiving a citation: payment, requesting a mitigation hearing, or requesting a contested hearing. These options should be considered thoroughly, as they can impact your driving record differently.

Taking proactive steps such as attending a mitigation hearing or contesting your ticket can potentially have a smaller impact on your driving record and car insurance rates. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that there are no guarantees the court will be lenient or dismiss your ticket.

Maintaining a clean driving record is essential for preserving your car insurance rates and preventing potential license suspension. Understanding the implications of traffic tickets enables you to make informed decisions and minimize their impact on your driving history.

Ticket Payment Process

Payment Options

In Washington, there are multiple ways to pay traffic tickets. These include paying online, by mail, by phone, or in person. When you receive your ticket, it will have detailed information on the available payment options for your specific case. It is essential to complete your payment within 15 days to avoid penalties imposed by the corresponding court and the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).

Payment Plans

If you are unable to pay your traffic ticket in full by the due date, you may be eligible to set up a payment plan. This allows you to pay your ticket off in installments over time. To request a payment plan, follow the instructions listed on the back of your ticket. You may need to contact the court overseeing your case to discuss your options or to set up a payment plan.

Problems with Payments

If you encounter any problems with your payment, it is crucial to contact the presiding court’s customer service as soon as possible to resolve the issue. Failure to complete your payments or resolve problems may result in your case being sent to a collection agency, additional penalties, and even your driver’s license being suspended.

Please ensure you have your citation or case number readily available when you communicate with the court or the DOL about any payment issues. This will help streamline the process and enable the involved parties to assist you promptly and efficiently.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket

Mitigation Hearing

A mitigation hearing allows you to explain to the court the circumstances of your traffic ticket. It is important to note that attending a mitigation hearing is not about declaring your innocence but rather to request leniency due to specific circumstances. During a mitigation hearing, a judge may reduce your fine or offer alternatives, such as traffic school. To request a mitigation hearing, mark the appropriate box on the back of your ticket, sign your name, and provide your current mailing address as detailed by King County.

Contested Hearing

If you believe you’re not guilty of the violation, you can request a contested hearing to plead your case. In a contested hearing, you can present evidence, witnesses, and arguments explaining why you are not guilty. The process for requesting a contested hearing is similar to that for mitigation. You’ll need to mark the appropriate box on the back of your ticket, sign your name, and provide your current mailing address as explained by King County.


It is possible to represent yourself in a contested hearing or mitigation hearing; however, you may choose to hire a traffic ticket attorney to assist you in the process. A knowledgeable traffic ticket lawyer can help advise you on the best course of action, gather evidence, and present a strong defense on your behalf. In some cases, having an experienced attorney represent you may result in a favorable outcome, such as a reduction in fines or the dismissal of your ticket.


In some situations, a trial may be necessary to contest a traffic ticket. This typically occurs if you have already gone through a contested hearing and are still dissatisfied with the result. In a trial, you will have the opportunity to present your case before a judge or jury, and the prosecution will also present their case against you. A trial can be a lengthy and complex process, and it’s recommended to consult with a traffic ticket attorney during this stage to ensure the best possible outcome.

Methods for Ticket Dismissal

There are several ways to dismiss a traffic ticket in Washington. These methods include taking a defensive driving course, completing community service, pleading to a lesser charge, and other options.

Defensive Driving Course

One option for ticket dismissal in Washington is to take a defensive driving course. Completing an approved course can help you avoid having points added to your driving record, which can result in increased insurance premiums and possible license suspension. Be sure to check with your presiding court if this option is available for your specific traffic violation.

Community Service

Some courts may offer the option to complete community service in lieu of paying a traffic ticket fine. This can be an alternative for those who wish to avoid financial penalties or have a clean driving record. You should contact your presiding court to inquire about community service options and the required amount of hours needed to dismiss your ticket.

Pleading to a Lesser Charge

In certain cases, you may be able to plead guilty to a lesser charge, such as a non-moving violation. This could result in a reduced fine and less severe penalties on your driving record. It’s essential to consult with an attorney or the presiding court to determine if this option is available for your specific traffic violation.


There are additional methods for ticket dismissal in Washington that may apply to specific circumstances, such as challenging the ticket in court, proving a sobriety test was administered incorrectly, or filing an appeal. Each situation is unique, and it’s crucial to consult with an attorney or the presiding court to discuss the most appropriate course of action for your case.

Remember to keep your options open and stay informed about the various methods for ticket dismissal. By doing so, you can ensure the best possible outcome for your traffic violation in Washington.

Specific Situations and Consequences

Reckless and Negligent Driving

Reckless driving and negligent driving are considered serious traffic violations in Washington State. These offenses may result in hefty traffic fines, along with the possibility of license suspension and other additional penalties. If you are convicted of reckless or negligent driving, your car insurance rates may also increase significantly.

On top of the fines, those facing a traffic violation conviction for reckless or negligent driving may have to attend a mitigation hearing or contested hearing in a municipal court or county district court, depending on where the violation occurred.

Commercial Driver Cases

For commercial drivers, the consequences of traffic violation convictions can be even more severe. Washington State has strict rules and regulations for commercial drivers, and a violation conviction may not only lead to higher fines but also affect their livelihood by potentially suspending their commercial driver’s license.

Moreover, commercial drivers are typically unable to opt for a monthly payment plan for their traffic fines and may face criminal charges for serious violations like DUI or reckless driving.

The Washington State Department of Licensing provides more information on fines, penalties, and consequences for commercial drivers.

DUI Cases

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Washington State, and those convicted may face criminal charges, license suspension, mandatory probation, and significant increases to their car insurance rates. Additionally, an unpaid traffic ticket related to a DUI offense may result in a bench warrant being issued for the person’s arrest.

To contest a DUI citation, individuals would need to contact their respective municipal court or county district court with their citation number and request a contested hearing. If found guilty, the court may impose additional penalties based on the severity of the offense.

Resources and Support

When dealing with a traffic ticket in Washington, it’s important to be familiar with the available resources and support to ensure a smooth and efficient process. The Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is a valuable resource for information related to court rules and procedures. The AOC is responsible for managing court fines and providing guidance on payment options for traffic tickets. You can find more information about AOC and court rules on their website.

To find the contact information for your local Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL), you can visit the DOL Customer Service page or call them at (360) 902-3900. They can assist you in locating any unpaid traffic tickets, providing information on payment options, and answering questions about probation or other penalties related to traffic violations.

If you believe you have a valid defense and want to fight your traffic ticket, you have the option to plead not guilty. The process of contesting a traffic ticket varies depending on the presiding court and the type of violation. Generally, you will be required to appear in court and present evidence supporting your case. It’s important to thoroughly review the details and instructions provided on your traffic ticket for specific information on how to plead not guilty and fight your ticket.

Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations in Washington. To better understand the consequences of a speeding ticket, including fines, court costs, and potential arrest or jail time, you can consult the official Washington State Courts website. This resource will provide up-to-date information on the penalties associated with speeding and other traffic offenses.

In summary, knowing your options and being aware of the resources available is key to successfully navigating the process of paying, contesting, or dealing with penalties related to traffic tickets in Washington. Be sure to utilize the provided resources and contact information to make informed decisions and ensure a smooth experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I pay my traffic ticket online in Washington?

You can pay your traffic ticket online in Washington by following the instructions provided on your ticket. The process may vary depending on the presiding court. For more details, check the Washington Traffic Tickets & Violations page.

What is the deadline for paying a traffic ticket in Washington state?

The deadline for paying a traffic ticket in Washington state is typically within 15 days of receiving the citation. However, the specific deadline may vary depending on your ticket and the issuing agency. It is crucial to check the deadline indicated on your traffic ticket to avoid late fees or other penalties.

How can I check the status of my traffic ticket in Washington state?

To check the status of your traffic ticket in Washington state, you will need to contact the court handling your case. The court’s information should be listed on your traffic ticket. Alternatively, some courts may have an online system to look up the status of your traffic ticket.

What are the options for contesting a speeding ticket in Washington?

In Washington, you have three options for contesting a speeding ticket:

  1. Mitigation hearing: This is a process where you admit to the violation but request that the court reduce the penalties or dismiss the ticket based on specific circumstances.

  2. Contested hearing: This is a formal process where you deny the violation and request a hearing to challenge the ticket in court.

  3. Deferral: This option allows you to postpone judgment on the ticket, usually by completing a traffic safety course or avoiding other traffic violations for a certain period.

Can I request a deferral for my traffic ticket in Washington state?

Yes, you can request a deferral for your traffic ticket in Washington state. However, eligibility for a deferral depends on your driving record and the type of violation you received. When granted a deferral, you must meet certain conditions, such as completing a traffic safety course or avoiding further violations for a specified period.

How do I pay a King County traffic ticket online?

To pay a King County traffic ticket online, visit the King County District Court website and follow the instructions provided. You’ll need your ticket’s infraction case number to complete the payment process.

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