As a traffic ticket attorney, a common question I get from potential clients is whether the traffic infraction they recently received is considered to be a moving or non-moving violation. More importantly, drivers are usually curious about how they can best handle the ticket they were given.
In Washington state, traffic tickets are broken down into two categories. Your infraction is either classified as a “moving violation” or “non-moving violation.” The distinction between the two is important because generally only moving violations carry long-term consequences.
In Washington, a “moving violation” is any traffic infraction that is committed by the driver while the car is moving. Laws vary by state, but for Washington, you can find a list of all moving violations in the Washington Administrative Code. Below is a list of moving violations as outlined in the Washington Administrative Code.
A non-moving violation is typically an infraction that involves a stationary vehicle. Non-moving violations in Washington State generally include parking violations, tickets issued by a camera, equipment violations, or paperwork violations relating to insurance, your license, or your vehicle registration.
If you are unsure of whether or not the infraction you received would fall under one of these guidelines, it is always a good idea to check the WAC or the list above to see if your specific infraction is considered to be a moving violation. If it is not listed above, it’s usually safe to assume that your infraction is a non-moving violation in Washington State.
In most states, non-moving violations do not go on your driving record because no points are assigned against your license. However, Washington State does not operate on a point system. Therefore, even non-moving violations, (with the exception to parking tickets and infractions issued by a camera) can and do appear on your driving record. Just like the majority of moving violations, these non-moving violations will stay on your driving record for three years for insurance purposes.
Car insurance rates are determined by a number of factors. These factors often include your age, gender, and the type of vehicle you drive. However, the most significant contributor to your insurance rates is the level of risk you pose as a driver and your chance of getting in an accident. Car insurance companies determine this risk by the number of traffic infractions you have on your driving record and the number of collisions you have been involved in.
Non-moving violations typically don’t affect your insurance rates because these types of violations do not necessarily demonstrate that you are a riskier driver. However, a study done by Insurance.com found that a ticket for no car insurance could raise your rates by 6 percent on average.
I hate to give this answer because it does not provide much guidance, but honestly, it depends. Usually, police officers don’t write tickets for non-moving violations alone. Instead, non-moving are typically discovered after you have been stopped for another issue, like speeding.
The difficulty with non-moving violations is that they are often difficult tickets to beat. These types of infractions are very black and white. You either had insurance and valid registration at the time of the stop, or you didn’t. The majority of the time there are no technical arguments that a traffic ticket attorney can make to beat your non-moving violation. (This is different than the options we have with a speeding ticket, for instance, where we can attack the credibility of a speed measuring device and other technical issues).
Because non-moving violations are pretty black and white, in some cases, it makes sense to simply mitigate the violation instead of contesting it. In addition, non-moving violations typically don’t raise your insurance rates since they don’t indicate any increased level of risk for you as a driver in general.
I understand that this can all be a bit confusing, so if you are unclear it is best to call for a free consultation before deciding how you want to proceed in handling your infraction.
In Washington State, you have 15 days to respond to the court regarding tickets for both moving and non-moving violations. However, only moving violations can suspend your license if you don’t respond within the 15-day time frame or if you get too many of them within a certain period of time.
Regardless, I would highly suggest that you do not just ignore your non-moving traffic ticket because it won’t suspend your license. Even if your license is not suspended, eventually the court will send the fine off to a collection company which could, in turn, have extremely negative effects on credit. Further, once they are in collections, non-moving violations can prohibit you from renewing your registration. That means that you will not be able to get valid TABS for your vehicle. In Washington State, driving a vehicle with an expired registration can cost you up to $228.
A good rule of thumb is to always consult with an experienced traffic ticket attorney in your area before making any decision on how to respond to an infraction. If you were only cited with a non-moving violation, it may make sense to mitigate the infraction and not get an attorney involved. However, if you were also cited with a moving violation (such as a speeding violation), you should at least consult with a traffic ticket lawyer before deciding how to proceed.
At Garguile Law, we are dedicated to providing drivers with the information they need to make informed decisions and determine what is most beneficial given their specific situation. Feel free to submit an inquiry below or contact us for a free consultation today. Consultations are done over the phone, so you don’t even have to come in for an appointment. Give us a call to learn more.
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