If you wish to contest a traffic infraction, the first step is to request a contested hearing. On the infraction you received, check the appropriate box and send the form in to the appropriate court. In Washington State, you must request this hearing within 15 days of having received the infraction. If you would like a lawyer to assist you with the contested hearing, contact us early in the process; do not wait until a few days before the hearing as that limits our ability to successfully defend your case.
If you cannot afford an attorney (you are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney in an infraction case), and intend to represent yourself at a contested hearing, you should familiarize yourself with the Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, which govern infraction cases. Those court rules can be found here. Among the highlights of those rules:
If you demand discovery at least 14 days before the contested hearing, and discovery is not provided, the state’s evidence may be suppressed. IRLJ 3.1(b).
The Rules of Evidence are applicable in contested hearings. IRLJ 3.3(c). This means, for example, that hearsay is inadmissible. Therefore, if an officer’s affidavit recites statements made by a witness, and the witness does not appear to testify at the hearing, the witness’ statements in the officer’s affidavit may be inadmissible.
Speed Measuring Device certificates must be filed with the Court, or the readings of the device may be suppressed. IRLJ 6.6(d).
Although we frequently appear at contested infraction hearings, there are alternatives to simply showing up in court and contesting the infraction. You can request a mitigation hearing, request a deferral, or we may be able to have your moving violation amended to a non-moving violation, which is a benefit for insurance purposes.
Under RCW 46.63.070(5), a person is eligible to defer one moving violation and one non-moving violation every seven years. The result of deferring an infraction is that, so long as you do not commit a moving violation (if you deferred a moving violation) or a non-moving violation (if you deferred a non-moving violation) in the 12 months after the deferral is granted, the infraction does not get reported to insurance. In Whitman County, if you are eligible for a deferral and wish to pursue this alternative, the Court will require you to pay the face amount of the ticket plus a $50 administrative fee. You do not need an attorney to be granted a deferral. Simply call the Whitman County District Court Clerk at (509)397-6260 (Colfax) or (509)332-2065 (Pullman) to discuss this option.