Are Camera Tickets Different Than Being Pulled Over?
It happens to the best of us. You check your mail only to find that you’ve received a camera ticket from a red-light camera, school bus camera or speeding camera. There is even photo and video evidence of you committing a traffic violation. Speed, red-light, and school bus cameras are a type of automated enforcement technology used throughout Western Washington to detect and prevent drivers from speeding, running red lights, or passing a stopped school bus. While drivers are given the option to fight or mitigate their penalty, often recipients of these tickets will pay the fine by sending a check in the mail to skip the hassle of taking their case to court.
If you have received a red-light camera ticket, school bus camera ticket or speeding in a school zone camera ticket in the state of Washington, here’s what you need to know.
Are Camera Tickets Legal in Washington State?
Yes, according to the Washington State Legislature, these types of tickets are entirely legal. Camera tickets around the region also may apply to certain stoplights and railroad crossings zones throughout the state. However, the areas utilizing cameras to issue traffic tickets must display a notice or sign that is visible to the public within their local ordinance, so drivers will be warned that enforcement cameras are in use.
Do Camera Tickets Go On Your Driving Record In Washington State?
No. Because camera tickets are treated similar to a parking ticket, it will not go on your driving record and will not impact your insurance rates.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Camera Ticket?
While these types of infractions will not end up on your driving record or impact your insurance rates, you will still need to pay the fine for your camera ticket. If you don’t pay your ticket, you will not be able to renew your vehicle’s registration or tabs if there are any outstanding parking violations or other civil penalties owed.
Can I Fight (Contest) A Camera Ticket In Washington State?
Yes, if a driver wants to fight a camera ticket, they can request a contested hearing, but first, be sure to check the video affiliated with your infraction. Camera tickets received in the mail will feature a list of instructions that will break down how to proceed if a driver does choose to fight their camera ticket. Generally, all you need to do is check the contested hearing box and mail the ticket back to the court.
Can I Mitigate (Reduce The Fine) Of A Camera Ticket In Washington State
When you ask for a mitigation hearing in Washington State, you are telling the Judge that you committed the traffic infraction, but you had a good reason to do so. At a mitigation hearing, the Judge will consider your explanation and will decide whether or not to lower the fine. The Judge will not dismiss your infraction because of your reason (whether it was valid or not). If you want to challenge the ticket, you need to ask for a contested hearing and not a mitigation hearing.
In Washington State, the Judge is permitted to lower the fine on most traffic infractions.
However, Judges are not allowed to reduce a fine when the camera ticket is for speeding in a school zone or passing a stopped school bus.
If your camera ticket is for either speeding in a school zone or for passing a stopped school bus, don’t waste your time in asking for a mitigation hearing! Even if you think your reason was valid, the Judge is prohibited from lowering your fine.
However, you can ask for a contested hearing to fight the camera ticket.
What If I Was Issued A Camera Ticket, But Wasn’t The Individual Driving?
Under Washington law, a traffic infraction detected through a traffic safety camera is presumed to have been committed by the registered owner of the vehicle.
However, this presumption can be overcome if the registered owner of the vehicle is willing to state under oath, in a written statement to the court or in testimony before the court, that the vehicle involved was under control or in the care of another person other than its registered owner at the time of the incident.
Therefore, if you were not driving, you can and should mail in a declaration of non-responsibility. The declaration of non-responsibility provided to you will likely ask for you to incriminate somebody else of committing the traffic violation. However, in Washington State, you have no obligation to list the name of the actual driver. If asked, you can simply state “unknown.”
How Do I File A Declaration Of Non-Responsibility?
While it depends on the city, your ticket was issued in. Usually, you can find this declaration on the ticket itself or the court’s website. Click here to download the Declaration form.
Should I Hire A Traffic Ticket Attorney To Fight My Camera Ticket?
In most cases, no. Since a camera ticket will not go on your driving record, generally there isn’t a need or any benefit to hiring an attorney to help with your ticket. Even though you more than likely won’t need a traffic ticket attorney to help you with your camera ticket, that doesn’t mean you won’t run into questions about your infraction along the way. Here at Garguille Law, we help relieve the stress of receiving a traffic ticket!