How Long Do Traffic Tickets Stay on Your Record in Washington?
There are two primary types of driving records in Washington State:
- An insurance record, and
- An employment record.
An insurance record is used to create or renew car insurance, and a ticket will be considered for insurance purposes for three years from the date the Court decided your case. While, for your employment record, a ticket will remain for five years after the court decided your case.
Accidents involving non-commercial vehicles will stay on the record for five years from the collision date, and accidents involving commercial vehicles will remain on the record for ten years from the collision date.
It’s important to note that the accident designation on a driver’s record shows involvement in an accident, but does not show fault. For example, if you were hit from behind and the ticket was given to the other driver, you will still have an accident designation on your driving record because you were involved in an accident.
Finally, Alcohol-related convictions like DUIs will stay on a driving record for life.
Will Having Traffic Tickets on My Driving Record Ever Cause Suspension of My Driver’s License?
Washington State does not utilize a points system. However, a person who receives too many tickets will have their license suspended or revoked. Most commonly, suspensions occur as a result of people ignoring their traffic tickets. Ignoring a ticket will cause the court to issue a failure to appear/respond (FTA). This FTA notice will be sent to the Washington Department of Licensing, and they will begin the process of suspending your license. Also, the court sends the fine you owe to a collection company. If a suspension occurred under these circumstances, you must resolve the FTA by either setting up a payment plan with the court or the collection company.
If someone receives six moving violations within 12 months or seven moving violations within 24 months, you will have your license suspended for 60 days. After you serve the 60-day suspension, you are on probation for one year. If you receive an additional moving violation during the probationary period, then your license will be suspended for 30 days for each committed moving infraction. Any violations incurred after that will lead to a one-year suspension.
Revocation of one’s Washington State drivers occurs if someone becomes a habitual traffic offender (HTO), which can happen if someone receives criminal convictions for three or more of the offenses listed in RCW 46.65020 within five years. The same consequences will result from being convicted of 20 or more moving violations within five years. Moving violations in Washington State are laid out here in the Washington Administrative Code. Once revoked, an individual’s driver’s license won’t be eligible to be reinstated for at least four years unless they qualify for a stay of their revocation.
What Options Do I Have If I Cannot Afford To Pay My Traffic Ticket?
If someone cannot afford to pay their traffic ticket, they should request a mitigation hearing and explain their circumstances to the judge. In almost all cases, a judge will lower the original fine or allow an individual to enter a payment plan with the court. In some jurisdictions, you may be able to complete community service in place of the fine. If someone chooses to ignore a traffic ticket, the fine is sent to a collection company, and as a result, they will lose their privilege to drive. Many people continue to drive after their licenses have been suspended, rack up tickets, and dig themselves into deep financial holes.