Fight a Traffic Ticket – By a Traffic Ticket Attorney

Traffic lawyer

Fight your ticket.

Are you one of the 35 million people who receive a traffic ticket each year? Would you like to know how ot fight a traffic ticket? Read on.

Of the 35 million drivers issued tickets each year only 5% are actually contested. About half are dismissed and half see reduced fines or deferred findings or reduced charges that don’t get reported to DOL or insurance companies. Because you’re reading this, you probably got a ticket, and you’re wondering what to do.

My advice is to always demand a court hearing to either fight your ticket/infraction, or at least mitigate it. Your worst case is that you end up paying the same fine indicated on your ticket. Best case is you get your ticket kicked out. Either way you’ll only be out your time. The important thing is that if you win, your insurance will not increase. If you simply pay your ticket, there’s no telling what will happen to your insurance rates.

Any experienced Puget Sound Traffic Attorney will get good results in about 98% of their cases. Most of the time that means keeping an infraction off your record. The rest of the time it means that you pay less money for your ticket. As you can see, just by going to court and contesting your ticket, the odds are swinging in your favor.

Here’s how to do things from the beginning…

When the officer approaches your vehicle he will likely ask you one of two standard questions:

  • Do you know why I stopped you?— Your response should be a polite, “No officer, I do not.”
  • Do you know how fast you were going?– The safest response is simply “I’m not really sure.” As you probably have not had your speedometer calibrated, this is a true and honest answer.

The key element here is to admit anything. Do not minimize your speed while admitting breaking the speed limit. For example, if the cop says that you were doing 60 in a 35, don’t tell him that you were going faster than 35. This is called an admission. The judge will use it against you later.

Have your license, registration and proof of insurance ready when the cop comes up to your window. This way the officer isn’t worried about you reaching in a glove box for an illegal weapon while he is writing your citation.

At this point, some officers will ask to search your car. You can, and should, simply say no. If he threatens to get a search warrant, politely tell him to get one. If he really has a legitimate reason to search your car, then he will do it without asking. Don’t let him bully you with threats of impounding your car, taking your kids, cavity searches, etc. Cops only ask permission when they can’t act without it.

It is also important to remember that you’re not going to talk your way out of a ticket. Cops issue tickets for a living. It’s their job. As soon as a cop’s pen hits the ticket book he is committed to issuing a ticket. There’s no going back.

While the cop is writing your citation, you should start making notes about what happened and where. Try to record the following:

  • Make, model, license plate number and unit number of the cop’s car.
  • Note your location and try to determine the distance between the alleged violation and where you stopped.
  • Even though your citation will list the basic weather conditions, make note of all the weather conditions such as temperature, wind, cloud cover, etc.
  • Who were your passengers? Make sure that they remain totally silent during the entire stop unless they are asked a specific question.
  • Record shirt or jacket color.
  • Record distinctive characteristics about your car such as dents, paint color(s), wheels, etc.
  • Make notes about everything the cop said during the stop. Sometimes the cop who stops you will not be the officer who clocked you with the Speed Measuring Device (SMD).
  • Make notes about the traffic conditions when you were pulled over.

The cop is probably going to give you your ticket to sign. Your signature is not an admission that you broke the law, but simply notice of the infraction and instructions on either paying the ticket, or arranging your day in court. Refusing to sign will not benefit you in any way, so go ahead and sign if asked to.

Some traffic lawyers advise that you ask to see the radar read out. You can if you want, but these cases are won on technicalities and not on the display on a radar after a stop. My sense is that asking to see the display will suggest to the cop that you plan on fighting the ticket, so he might actually do what he’s supposed to, which makes the ticket harder to fight.

Pull away from the scene calmly and safely and use your signal before merging back into traffic. Do not accelerate quickly enough to shoot gravel/debris onto the hood of the cop’s car. That makes them very, very unhappy.

Fight or Pay

Now that you have your traffic citation it’s time to decide whether to Fight or Pay. Remember, even if you go to court to fight and you end up losing, your fine is not going to increase, so there’s no real downside other than your time. You also need to consider the fact that you might be paying the fine plus the added insurance premiums if you don’t beat that ticket. Here are some of the more common reasons for Contesting a Ticket/Infraction:

  • I can’t afford the fine, or I or don’t want to pay it.
  • I don’t want an infraction on my record.
  • I didn’t do it.
  • OK, I did do it but everyone else was too.
  • The cop/trooper was mean to me.

If you fit into one of the above categories, you want your day in court.

Contested Hearing or Mitigation Hearing?

You can either simply pay the ticket, or there are two types of court hearings for a traffic citation:

Pay The Ticket – I’m a law breaker and here’s my money. Please raise my insurance.

Guilty with an explanation – I’m naughty, but let me tell the court why before I pay my money and you raise my insurance.

Contest the Ticket – This is how you get your day in court to challenge the ticket, avoid a fine, and protect your insurance rate.

It is important to remember that Contesting the Ticket, by law, does not necessarily mean you didn’t commit the alleged offense. What it means is that the prosecutor or State now has to prove more probably than not that you did commit the offense. The burden of proof is now on the State and not you. There are a lot of defenses someone can use to beat a traffic infraction.

Should you hire a lawyer?

Yes, you probably should. I’ve watched pretty experienced attorneys in court who don’t understand the case law, judicial personalities and issues unique to traffic infraction defense, and they really botch things up. Different courts interpret case law different, so what works in one court won’t work in some others. It’s important to know what works where. Unfortunately, that knowledge is really only gained by appearing in traffic court every day.

Setting the Court Date

Regardless of how you choose to proceed, you need to return your infraction to the issuing court within 15 days, or the court can find that you have failed to respond. They can then send your case to collections, which makes things a lot more expensive.

If you want to challenge your ticket, you need check the “Contested Hearing” box on your infraction, make a photocopy of the infraction, and envelope with appropriate postage and address. Put the original infraction in the envelope, seal it, and drop it in the mail within 15 days of receiving the ticket. The court will send you a court date.

If you are planning on representing yourself, then you need to also request “Discovery” from both the Court where your hearing will occur, and also from the prosecutor for that Court. This request has to be made at least two weeks before your hearing. Discovery has to be provided to you at least one week before the hearing.

Here is a link to various traffic infraction defenses. You should hire an experienced traffic attorney who will always do a more thorough job than a non-professional, but if you can’t afford the $200 to hire our firm, do your homework, and you’ll have a better chance at prevailing than just about any other person without an attorney.

You can trust the attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates to protect you, your wallet and your insurance rates. Call us today to for your free consultation so that we can discuss all of your options and how best to fight a traffic ticket.

Call Us 253-683-4180

Durflinger Oliver & Associates PS

711 St. Helens Ave.
Suite 209

Tacoma, WA 98402

Fax: 253-683-4184

Email: jim@durflingeroliver.com

Map and Directions


 

Traffic Ticket Lawyer

 

 

 

 

Racing Can Be Fun

Racing Attorney

Reckless Driving Racing?

Synopsis ~

Reckless Driving Racing is fun…and illegal.

RCW 46.61.530  states that “No person or persons may race any motor vehicle or motor vehicles upon any public highway of this state. Racing is willfully comparing or contesting relative speeds by operation of one or more motor vehicles, whether or not the speed is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law. WPIC 95.04 

Speeding alone is not Reckless Driving, or Reckless Driving Racing. A racing conviction can result in up to 364 days in custody, a 30 day licensing suspension, SR22 requirements, and a fine of up to $5,000.00.

Racing is illegal, but even if you think that you were caught red handed, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to convict you. Admit nothing and immediately contact an experienced Reckless Driving/Racing attorney, or criminal attorney.

What is Racing?

Any Reckless Driving Racing attorney with a fast car or bike will tell you that comparing speeds with a friend is great fun. But what happens when Johnny Law breaks up the party, impounds your whip and throws you in jail? Should you just plead guilty? Take a plea bargain? Take it to trial? This article will attempt to answer those questions.


What is Reckless Driving Racing in Washington State?

Reckless Driving Racing is a criminal traffic gross misdemeanor, in addition to being major moving violation traffic offense in Washington State.

When a person tries to compare or contest speed by the operation of a motor vehicle, he is guilty of Racing. The penalty for a conviction of this gross misdemeanor can include up to 364 days in jail, a fine of no more than $5,000, and license suspension of no less than 30 days (RCW 46.61.500).

A Motor Vehicle is defined in RCW 46.04.320 as “every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails. “Motor vehicle” includes a neighborhood electric vehicle as defined in RCW 46.04.357. “Motor vehicle” includes a medium-speed electric vehicle as defined in RCW 46.04.295. An electric personal assistive mobility device is not considered a motor vehicle. A power wheelchair is not considered a motor vehicle. A golf cart is not considered a motor vehicle, except for the purposes of chapter 46.61 RCW.

We recently represented a motorcyclist who was riding with his Tacoma MC club on the Westbound 512. A WSP aircraft recorded a bunch of riders driving awfully fast and weaving in and out of traffic to be the first to a Mexican restaurant on South Tacoma Way. The video apparently showed quite a few guys racing with each other. The pilot filmed riders individually and as a group, and called troopers on the ground to meet the riders at the Restaurant.

My client was parked and standing next to his bike when the trooper arrived. The pilot, circling in the air about 800’ over the scene positively Identified by client and his friends as the riders he witnessed racing on the 512. The ground Trooper wasn’t so confident, so he didn’t arrest everyone, but he did write up everyone there for Reckless Driving Racing.

The court case was a circus. The Trooper’s video did appear to show very, very small motorcycles moving faster than the cars around them. What you couldn’t make out was the license plate number, make, model, or even colors of the bikes. Furthermore, there were huge breaks in the video where the pilot pointed the camera at other riders ¼ mile from my client and his friends. The case was an absolute cluster and we got a dismissal.

Cops love writing people for Reckless Driving Racing whenever they see someone driving a lowered import with their friends at a speed that even suggests racing. We’ve also seen racing charges where a couple of buddies were simply trying to get home in time to see their favorite show. If you’re stopped for racing, don’t argue with the cop, but more importantly, don’t say anything. Cops stopped hyou because they thought you were breaking the law. No matter what you say, the cops are going to hear you admit to racing. Don’t help them. Don’t say anything. Call an experienced traffic lawyer.

We offer free consultations, military discounts, and clear communications. Call us today to discuss how we can help you fight these criminal charges. You can trust us to give you the truth; the whole story, good, or bad. Call today.

Traffic Lawyer ~ James E. Oliver, Esq.

Traffic Lawyer ~ James E. Oliver, Esq.


James Edmund Oliver, Jr. is a Traffic attorney with over 15 years of experience representing defendants against major moving violation charges. Some of the more common charges he defends against are reckless driving, negligent driving, speeding and speed unsafe for conditions. After serving six years in the Army Reserves, James completed his legal studies at Seattle University School of Law where he graduated in 1998 with a Juris Doctor degree. Jim has established himself as well respected and zealous advocate for a wide variety of clients.

Negligent Driving 2

Negligent Driving

Some cops actually ticket guys like this. smh

Synopsis

Negligent Driving in the Second Degree charges are much easier to beat than you would think. A person commits negligent driving in the second degree when “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.” RCW 46.61.525(1)(a). Prosecution for a traffic infraction is “initiated by the issuance, service, and filing of a notice of infraction.” IRLJ 2.2(a). “The infraction need not have been committed in the officer’s presence, except as provided by statute.” IRLJ 2.2(b)(1) (emphasis added). A law enforcement officer has statutory authority to issue a notice of a traffic infraction:

(a) When the infraction is committed in the officer’s presence;

(b) When the officer is acting upon the request of a law enforcement officer in whose presence the traffic infraction was committed;

(c) If an officer investigating at the scene of a motor vehicle accident has reasonable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle involved in the accident committed a traffic infraction;

(d) When the infraction is detected through the use of a photo enforcement system under RCW 46.63.160; or

(e) When the infraction is detected through the use of an automated traffic safety camera under RCW 46.63.170.

RCW 46.63.030.

RCW 46.63.030 plainly requires courts to conclude that an officer must either be present when the infraction occurs or meet one of the other statutory circumstances before issuing a ticket. Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is a moving violation. For the infraction to be valid, the movement must have been made in the officer’s presence.


Full Article

That Negligent Driving ticket probably isn’t as bad as you think. Every week we are hired by a dozen, or so, drivers who are charged with some level of Neg Driving (Negligent Driving in the First Degree, or Negligent Driving in the Second Degree). They come in knowing that Neg Driving is a “Major Moving Violation” that can result in a high fine, increased insurance, and even a license suspension. What these clients don’t know before they come into our office, is that a Neg 1, which is a criminal charge, or Neg 2, which is an infraction, can often be attacked and beaten. This article will deal with Negligent Driving in the Second Degree.

We generally see Negligent Driving in the Second Degree tickets issued as a result of an accident, or some act of driving that an officer believes was unreasonable and put other people or property at risk. In both cases, officers generally rely on witness statements to determine that someone drove negligently.

Neg 2 is defined in RCW 46.613.525 as when a driver “operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.” “[N]egligent” 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.”

We recently represented a 17 year old kid who was driving his 2000 Honda Civic on a local highway when the car suddenly quit running. He was able to pull over onto the left shoulder, which wasn’t quite wide enough, but for fifteen minutes every driver on the road was able to safely drive around him. While our client was waiting for his mom, a local prosecutor was driving without paying attention to what was ahead, and slammed into our client totaling both cars.

Troopers arrived, did a quick investigation, and issued a Neg 2 citation to the negligent driver… our 17 year old client. The trooper wasn’t a witness, and our client wasn’t driving when the accident occurred, but that didn’t stop Trooper McHasty from issuing our guy a citation. I’ll explain in a bit how we were able to attack that ticket and get it kicked out.

The second most common Neg 2 scenario we typically see is where there’s no accident, but an officer believes that a driver did something wrong. In State of Washington v. Magee, a WSP Trooper saw a car on the right shoulder facing the wrong direction jump starting another vehicle. Magee, an attorney, argued that the Trooper was not allowed to issue a citation for an alleged infraction that the Trooper did not witness. The appellate court agreed and further stated that Negligent Driving is a “moving violation” and the citing officer must witness the negligently moving vehicle. And that is where most of these traffic tickets are beat.

Our 17 year old client who got rear ended while he was stopped was cited for “Neg Driving” even though he was stopped when the prosecutor ran into him. The judge at our hearing agreed that our kid was not driving when the accident occurred, and was not driving when the Troopers responded. The case fell squarely under Magee, and the judge really had no discretion to do anything but grant our motion to dismiss. The case got kicked out and our client saved money on the fine, money on insurance, and he didn’t have to go to court to argue with the judge, or a prosecutor.

If you’ve been issued a citation for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree, you should immediately speak with an experienced traffic attorney about whether you should request a contested hearing to attack that ticket. Call us for a free consultation.



Criminal Traffic Lawyer

Traffic Attorney

Traffic lawyer

Hire a Traffic Attorney.

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, who gets a speeding ticket, should hire a traffic lawyer to put up the best possible ticket defense. The big reasons are that you don’t have to show up for court, the traffic attorney will fight your ticket for you, and the best traffic lawyers know how to beat a speeding infraction. Let’s start off with what you need to do before you even get behind the wheel.

Carry valid license and insurance. This is pretty obvious. Not so obvious is the fact that your registration needs to be signed. If it isn’t, you can get a ticket for that too. You also want to make sure that all of your lights work. If you have a third brake light, each light has to work. We see a lot of infractions that include a “burned out tail light” when the only light not working is the third brake light in the rear window. Make sure everything functions.

License plates: you are required to have a front license plate. You are not allowed to have anything obstructing the plate. This includes ball hitches, dirt, and license plate covers – even the clear ones. For you motorcycle guys, the plate has flat, not angled, but 90 degrees to the ground, and the alpha numeric must be oriented so that the tops of letters and numbers are

MC Plate

MC Plate

pointing up.

Tinted windows look cool, and the privacy is nice, but if they are too dark, the cops can give you a traffic infraction. You can run a little tint on your front window, but it can’t obscure your vision while driving. If you look at your windows by the front pillars, you’ll see little lines that indicate the maximum distance from the top of the window that stickers or tint can extend to.

Even though a cracked window does absolutely nothing to obstruct your view, an officer can use it as an excuse to pull you over and write you an equipment violation. If you were drinking, you’ll also end up doing a breath test back at the station. See our DUI blog for more info on what to do and not do following a DUI stop.

If your car is squared away, then you’re ready to go into the world. If your car has some equipment issues, you are likely going to get pulled over; especially in Fife or Lakewood, or if the WSP are around. (Brotha alert: Never, never, ever go to Lakewood. “Black” and “Gang Member” mean the same thing there.) Once you’re on the road, follow the laws. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as you think. Especially in the Cities of Lakewood and Fife where anything can be a traffic violation.

Use your signal every time you change lanes, or want to turn. If you’ve missed your turn, continue on until you can safely turn around. Cops love citing people for failing to signal. They also love to claim people fail to signal when they make a DUI stop. Always signal.

Obey the Speed Limit. If you don’t obey the speed limit, then don’t admit it when you get caught. Minimizing your speed is the same as admitting breaking the law. For instance, if the speed limit is 60 mph, and you’re cruising along at 75 when the cop hits his lights, don’t pull over and tell the cop that you were only doing 65. That’s admitting to breaking the law. The cop won’t care, and the judge won’t care. The cop will cite you for speeding regardless of how fast you say you were going.

Since you don’t have to say anything to the cops when they pull you over, say nothing. Have your license, registration and proof of insurance ready to go, and politely decline to answer questions, which brings up another point: Be Polite. Cops have a tough job. Don’t make it any tougher on them, or yourself, by arguing with them about your infraction. That’s a fight you will never win.

If you have anything you don’t want the cop to see, do not have it in the passenger compartment with you. Put that stuff in the trunk where a cop isn’t likely to look and is very unlikely to see it. Drugs (medical marijuana included), guns (if you have a CCP advise the cop that you are armed if there is ANY chance he will see your piece), hookers and stolen/illegal stuff, should be kept in your trunk. Incidentally, if you are usually strapped, do not drink and drive while armed. Cops can take your weapons, and prosecutors, at least in Pierce and King County, will attempt to forfeit your weapons. If you’re gonna drink, unload your weapon, clear your weapon, and secure your weapon in your trunk.

For those of you with a CDL, all of the above is very important. The most important thing to do during a stop for speeding, reckless driving, negligent driving, speed too fast for conditions, or failure to maintain a safe distance, is keep your trap shut and don’t make any statements. Your traffic ticket attorney can do a better job for you if you say NOTHING.

Once you get a traffic infraction you will probably wonder, “how do I fight a traffic ticket”, or “how do I fight a speeding ticket?” Your best bet is to hire a traffic attorney to fight things for you. These cases are won on technicalities, and not the facts. But first things first. You need to request a “Contested Hearing”. Incidentally, all of this information applies only to tickets in the State of Washington.

Check the Contested Hearing box (third box down on the ticket) and sign and date the ticket. Fill out an envelope with the appropriate court name and address which you’ll find on the ticket itself. Put a stamp on the envelope. Make a photocopy of the front of the ticket and the front of the envelope showing the proper address and postage. Put the ticket in the envelope and mail it within 15 days of the citation. Keep the photocopy somewhere safe as it’s proof you timely requested the traffic court hearing. When you get the court date, make sure you show up. Alternatively, hire a traffic lawyer to do all of this for you, so you can chill.

Before you go to court, you need to get a copy of the discovery. Discovery includes a copy of the infraction, the officer’s statement about what happened, and the “6.6 Declaration” from the expert who certified the speed measuring device used. When you go to court for your speeding ticket, if you didn’t hire an infraction attorney, you need to know how to attack the most basic technical errors with tickets. This requires paying attention to some things. Read your ticket several times looking for the following problems.

Vehicle type. Most courts will dismiss if the officer forgot to put vehicle type such as sedan, pickup, motorcycle, etc. Make sure he didn’t put the vehicle type elsewhere in the ticket, though.

Timely filed. Cops have five business days to file. Business days don’t include weekends, or holidays, so basically, they have at least one week to file. The new tickets that come on 8.5”x11” paper are pretty much automatically filed, so there won’t be a filing issue. However, the old green tickets

RCW 9A.72. The green tickets require the declaration be signed “under the penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington.” The declaration has to be signed by the cop who witnessed the violation and it has to have this language. If it doesn’t, ask to have the ticket dismissed.

6.6 errors. Look for information within the 6.6 document that the speed measuring device (SMD) was “tested under the direction of…”. The guy who signed the 6.6 is supposed to test the SMD, not some unknown person.

6.6 Attachment A. This little steaming pile nonsense is rarely signed as required by 9A.72. Even when it is, nobody has any reasonable explanation for what specifically it is accomplishing. Sadly, not every court understands this. Judges are elected, not necessarily brilliant.

Pace. Did the cop follow you for at least ¼ mile at a consistent distance and speed? Does he mention his training to pace, or looking at the speedo? If not, there is no foundation for how fast you were going.

SMD Testing. The device needs to be tested before and after the stop. Does the cop’s declaration say this? If not, ask for a dismissal. The tests include checking the LED lights to make sure they all work, an internal diagnostic, and for lasers a reticular alignment test, and distance test at a minimum of 100’. If the cops declaration doesn’t detail all of these tests, ask for a dismissal.

There is much, much more to fighting tickets including the caselaw that supports everything traffic attorneys do to get infractions kicked out of court. Do yourself a favor though and let your lawyer get grilled by the judge and prosecutor while you sit at home, work or school. We know how to beat these things, so let us work for you and keep your record clean, and your insurance low. We have decades of combined experience defending drivers and riders. Call for your free consultation.

Call Us 253-683-4180

Durflinger Oliver & Associates PS

711 St. Helens Ave.
Suite 209

Tacoma, WA 98402

Fax: 253-683-4184

Email: jim@durflingeroliver.com

Map and Directions

~ Jim Oliver is a partner at Durflinger Oliver. When he’s not in court defending motorsports enthusiast accused of driving too fast, he can be found on the road wringing out his ’65 Mustang Fastback at triple digit speeds whenever he gets the chance.