YOU HAVE 15 DAYS TO FILE YOUR
RESPONSE WITH THE COURT
Read over the entire infraction. It explains the responses allowed by law. You must respond in writing to the court within fifteen (15) days of the date the infraction was issued to you. An infraction is not a crime, but failure to respond will result in an additional $52 penalty, loss of your right to contest the infraction, and, if the infraction is a “moving” violation, suspension of your driver’s license. (These same sanctions apply if you fail to appear at a requested hearing or fail to comply with a monthly payment agreement.) Your response must be made in one of three ways listed on the infraction notice.
Infraction cases are filed, processed and heard primarily at our Aberdeen office location: 2109 Sumner, Room 201, Aberdeen, WA 98520. Tel. (360) 532-7061. In the event you are unable to visit or contact our Aberdeen office location, you may contact our Montesano office location: 102 W. Broadway, Rm. 202A, Montesano, WA 98563. Tel. (360) 249-3441.
1. Payment in full: in person, by mail, or on-line. You may elect to pay the full penalty amount listed on the infraction. If you are unable to pay in full, you may request a monthly payment plan. A one-time $10 fee is charged to set up a monthly payment plan. You may pay in person, by mail, or on-line by credit card.Be sure you include your name and case number with any payment. Payment in cash, by check, money order, or credit card is acceptable. We recommend that you do not send cash by mail. You will be required to sign a written monthly payment agreement before a monthly payment plan will be approved. Liability Insurance Infractions: If you were insured at the time of the infraction, you may file the proof of insurance with the court along with a $25 administrative fee, within the 15 day period, as your response. The infraction will be dismissed without having to appear in court.
2. Mitigation Hearing: Request a hearing to explain the circumstances. You may request a hearing to explain the circumstances. Mark the appropriate box on the infraction, verify your address and sign the infraction where indicated. You must return the infraction to the court within 15 days. Called a “mitigation” hearing, this is for cases where you are admitting the violation, but wish to explain the circumstances to the judge. A typical request is for a penalty reduction. For example, if you were issued an infraction for “speeding, 74 in a 60 zone” and you believe you were only going 68, you could request a hearing to explain that to the judge. The judge may (or may not) reduce the amount of the penalty and make a finding of a lower speed. The court is required to report all committed traffic infractions to the Department of Licensing(DOL). The judge may, if you qualify, enter a “deferred finding” order which may result in the infraction staying off of your DOL record.
3. Respond by requesting a contested hearing. You may request a hearing to contest the issuance of the infraction. Mark the appropriate box on the infraction, verify your address and sign the infraction where indicated. You must return the infraction to the court within 15 days. You or your attorney are required to be present for a contested hearing. At a contested hearing, the judge may consider the officer’s written report made under oath, the information on the infraction notice, and your sworn testimony, long with the sworn testimony of any witness you present. The judge will decide whether or not the infraction was committed based on the law and the evidence presented. If the judge finds the infraction “committed,” the court will then impose a penalty. If the judge finds the infraction “not committed,” that concludes the case. No money is due and you would be free to go.Additional hearing-related information: Lawyer: You may have a lawyer appear and represent you at your hearing. The lawyer fees would be your responsibility. The law does not provide lawyers at public expense in infraction cases. Discovery: To obtain a copy of the officer’s written report prior to your hearing date, you must make a written request to the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office and file a copy of the written request with the court office at least 14 days before the hearing date. For any other discovery, please refer to the Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, IRLJ 3.1(b), IRLJ 6.6, or consult with a lawyer. Presence of Officer at Contested Hearing: A separate written request for the police officer to be present at the hearing should be filed with the court at least 10 days before the hearing date. See IRLJ 3.1(a).
HEARINGS BY MAILGrays Harbor County District Court does provide for hearings by mail as authorized by state court rule. IRLJ 3.5. You must a written statement in the form required by IRLJ 3.5 at least 5 days before your scheduled hearing date. The Hearing by Mail form and more detailed information is available at the court office or from the court’s website, http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/judicial/dnld/MailHearing.pdf.
DRIVING RECORDS, TRAFFIC
When you are found to have committed a traffic infraction, either by paying the penalty, having a hearing to explain the circumstances, or after a contested hearing, state law requires the court to notify the Department of Licensing (DOL). The traffic infraction will then appear on your driving record, which DOL maintains for three years for insurance and employment purposes. Seat belt violations are not disclosed to employers and insurance companies. Cell phone & text message violations, along with all infractions found not committed or dismissed are not reported to DOL and will not appear on your driving record.
INFRACTIONS & DEFERRED FINDINGS
Deferred Findings: If the court grants a deferred finding instead of a committedfinding, the case will remain open for 6 to 12 months, you will pay an administrative fee instead of the listed penalty, and other conditions will be set, including not having any new traffic infractions issued to you. If you comply, the infraction will be dismissed and will not appear on your driving record. You may request a deferred finding at the beginning of your mitigation or contested hearing, or in your hearing by mail statement. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, received your citation in a school zone or have received a deferred finding within the last 7 years, you are not eligible for a deferred finding. RCW 46.63.070(5). If your license was issued by any state other than Washington you must submit a copy of your driving record (abstract) from your state to be eligible for a deferred finding.
RIGHT TO APPEALYou may appeal the judge’s decision if the court finds you committed an infraction after a contested hearing. A written notice of appeal must be filed with the court within thirty (30) days of the court’s decision against you. You will be responsible for the costs of an appeal, which include a $270.00 Superior Court filing fee, payable in advance. If you appeal, the Superior Court will review the record that was made at the District Court. The Superior Court will not provide a new trial. Instructions and forms to appeal a case are available from the District Court office.
“I missed my court date,” or “I didn’t respond or pay on time.” HOW TO CLEAR YOUR “FTA”
Payment in full will clear your “FTA” with the court and the Dept. of Licensing and close the case. Contact the court office or the collection agency if the case has been assigned for collection to determine the amount due. The collection agency will notify the court so that any DOL hold can be lifted, usually within 48 hours.
Allow at least 3 days for the "FTA" to be taken off of your driving record.
If you cannot pay in full, your only other option is to file a written request (form available from court office) for a hearing to set aside the court’s judgment. You may be required to appear in court to further explain what happened and why you didn’t respond, appear at your hearing, or are unable to pay. The judge will decide whether your failure to respond, appear or pay should be excused. Do not delay. The judge may take into account the length of time between your request to set aside the judgment and the FTA. A delay of more than one year may prevent the judge from excusing the FTA. See IRLJ 6.7(a) and CRLJ 60(b).
COMMUNITY RESTITUTION PROGRAMIf your are unable to pay, you may apply for acceptance into the community restitution program. Contact the court office for instructions.
If you have lost or misplaced your citation but want to request a hearing you can fill out a duplicate request provided you are still within the 15 day proper response time. Please be sure to mark which type of hearing you are requesting and complete the name, address and signature before returning it to the court