Why Should You Hire a Pierce County Traffic Ticket Lawyer?
Pierce County is the second-largest county in the State of Washington when it comes to population. It should come as no surprise that drivers in Pierce County receive their fair share of traffic tickets. In 2019, there were over 65,000 traffic tickets issued to drivers throughout Pierce County. Only King County and Snohomish County had more traffic tickets issued in 2019. Over half of these tickets are issued to drivers on the major highways in Pierce County by either the Washington State Patrol or Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
When you receive a traffic ticket in Pierce County, you have three options:
- Pay the ticket
- If you pay the fine, the traffic ticket will go on your driving record and likely raise your insurance rates for the next three years.
- We do not recommend doing this due to the long-term financial impact on your insurance rates. However, you can find the payment options for your Pierce County District Court traffic ticket here.
- Admit guilt (mitigate), but give an explanation
- Mitigation Hearings – By asking for a mitigation hearing, you admit guilt but want to explain the circumstances in hopes of getting the fine lowered. The judge will let you describe what took place and decide whether you deserve a reduction in the fine. If you want to keep the ticket off your driving record, DO NOT ask for a mitigation hearing.
- You can request a mitigation hearing for your Pierce County traffic ticket by marking the mitigation hearing box on your traffic ticket and mailing it back to the court or requesting it online.
- In Pierce County District Court, you may request to have your hearing either in person (currently done via ZOOM due to COVID) or by mail. To have a mitigation hearing by mail, you can submit your statement online if you are ok with the traffic ticket going on your driving record and only want a reduction in the fine. I would suggest submitting your written statement online to save time. Saving a few dollars on a fine is not worth taking a half-day of work off to attend your hearing in most circumstances.
- Fight (contest) the ticket
- Contested Hearings – If you want to fight/argue the ticket, you need to request a contested hearing. At a contested hearing, the judge will determine whether you committed the infraction. If the judge rules in your favor, the ticket is dismissed. If a ticket is dismissed, it means that it will not go on your driving record, and unless it was a traffic infraction involving an accident, it should not impact your insurance rates.
- You can request a contested hearing for your Pierce County traffic ticket by marking the contested hearing box on your traffic ticket and mailing it back to the court or requesting it online.
- In Pierce County District Court, you may request to have your hearing either in person (currently done via ZOOM due to COVID) or by mail. To have a contested hearing by mail, you may submit your statement online. However, I would suggest reading up on some issues that will not get your speeding ticket dismissed before submitting your written statement to the court.
You must select one of these three options within 15 days from when you received the traffic ticket or 18 days if it came in the mail.
I’m fighting my traffic ticket in Pierce County; is the ticketing officer required to show up for court?
Law enforcement officers need not show up for traffic ticket hearings unless they have been issued a subpoena to appear.
If the officer is not subpoenaed and does not appear at the hearing, the judge will rely upon the police report to determine the contested hearing’s outcome. The police officer that gave you the ticket is the one who writes out the report. The report describes how they came into contact with you and what type of speed measuring device they were using.
How do I Subpoena the Officer in Pierce County District Court?
There are two ways to have the officer appear at your contested hearing. First, if you hire a traffic ticket attorney, they can issue a subpoena or (if you are representing yourself) by contacting the Pierce County District Court Clerk’s Office.
If you decide to represent yourself, the court will issue the subpoena, but you will have the responsibility to serve the officer and file proof of service with the court on or before the date of your contested hearing. You must understand the rules when it comes to subpoenas for contested hearings. Here are the rules.
Is it worth getting a Pierce County traffic ticket lawyer?
In Pierce County District Court, the prosecutor’s office currently does not show up for contested traffic ticket hearings. This means that you will be arguing your case at your contested hearing solely in front of one of the eight Pierce County District Court Judges or a Pro-Tem Judge.
The current Pierce County District Court Judges are:
- Judge Judy Rae Jasprica (Current Presiding Judge) – Courtroom 543;
- Judge Karla Buttorff – Courtroom 935;
- Judge Claire Sussman – Courtroom 603;
- Judge Kevin A. McCann – Courtroom 936;
- Judge Jeanette Lineberry – Courtroom 542;
- Judge Lloyd Oaks – Courtroom 607;
- Judge Karl Williams – Courtroom 604; &
- Judge Lizanne Padula – Courtroom 541.
A Pro-Tem Judge is a substitute Judge for the day. Currently, contested hearings are being scheduled in all of the courtrooms listed above and in Courtroom 839. Courtroom 839 is always a Pro-Tem Judge.
As you can see, if you decide to contest (fight) your traffic ticket, many Judges may ultimately hear your case. Given that many judges may eventually hear your case, having a local Pierce County traffic ticket lawyer is vital to your case’s success.
As a traffic ticket attorney, I have two ways that I can potentially keep a ticket from appearing on your driving record so that it does not impact your insurance rates.
First, if I can find a problem (a technical issue) with your traffic ticket, I can argue the ticket and try to get it dismissed. If I can not get it dismissed, I can work out a deal with the prosecutor and get the ticket reduced to a non-moving violation in some courts.
Reducing a ticket to a non-moving violation is only available when a prosecutor appears at the contested hearing because they are the only ones who can change the infraction to something else. A Judge does not have the authority to change the traffic ticket to a non-moving violation.
Since the prosecutor will not be present for your contested hearing in Pierce County District Court, there is no way for the ticket to be changed to something else. Therefore, the only outcome is that you either win or lose your contested hearing.
As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know,” and unless you are aware of how to fight a traffic ticket successfully, you are unlikely to have much success contesting your traffic infraction. Couple that with the fact that not all Judges see issues in the same light. A technical argument that may work for one judge doesn’t necessarily persuade the next. Therefore, hiring a Pierce County Traffic Ticket Lawyer who is familiar with how the local judges and pro-tem judges rule on specific issues is worth their weight in gold if you want to be successful in fighting your traffic ticket.
I’m fighting my traffic ticket on my own in Pierce County. What should I expect?
For the reasons I just mentioned above, I do not recommend individuals to fight (contest) their traffic tickets in Pierce County without the help of an experienced traffic ticket lawyer. This may not be financially feasible for everyone, or you may prefer to represent yourself. If you fall into one of these categories, it is crucial to understand what to expect at your contested hearing.
To have the best chance of success in fighting your Pierce County Traffic Ticket, you must take the time to prepare adequately. The first step is to get your hands on the police officer’s report for your case.
After a police officer gives you a ticket, they write out a report. This report is known as their “affidavit.” This report is what the judge will rely on in your contested hearing. It will tell you and the judge why they stopped you, why they gave you a ticket and other important information. You can request this report directly from the Pierce County District Court here. Typically, you would ask for this from the prosecutor’s office. However, in Pierce County District Court, you request it from the court.
After you have your hands on the report, the second step is to find out what Pierce County Judge will hear about your case. The court will mail you a “summons.” The summons will provide you essential information about your hearing date and time. Also, it will tell you the courtroom of your hearing. The Judges Courtrooms are listed above. With a likely Judge assigned to your case, take the time to observe other contested hearings with that specific judge. Taking the time to do that is crucial because you can feel how they rule on particular issues. If you pay attention, you might discover a point that you can use in your case.
The final step is to attend your contested hearing. There will likely be several cases scheduled for that same day and the same time. If that is the case, pay attention to the other cases and see if you can pick anything up before your contested hearing.
Once the judge calls your name, they will ask if you have any preliminary motions. Preliminary motions are legal arguments that you make before the case starts. The goal here is to suppress (throw out) certain pieces of evidence so that the judge may not rely on them during your hearing. To better understand how to do this, I would encourage you to read up on the Rules of Evidence and the Infraction Rules of Limited Jurisdiction.
After you make your preliminary motions and the judge has ruled on those issues, the judge will ask you if you are ready for your contested hearing. At that point, you can argue your case. The judge will listen to your testimony, read the officer’s report and decide whether or not you committed the offense. It is essential to understand the standard of proof in contested hearings. This means the judge will hear testimony and determine the case on a preponderance of the evidence standard. You can find a video here explaining this in more detail.
Once again, I would not advise you to do this on your own unless you take the time to prepare adequately. When you factor in the time that takes, you may want to reconsider hiring a Pierce County Traffic Ticket Lawyer to do all of this for you. Traffic Ticket Attorneys are not as expensive as you may think, which we will discuss in more detail below.
How much does a traffic lawyer cost for Pierce County District Court?
Attorney’s fees vary from Traffic Lawyer to Traffic Lawyer, but in Pierce County, almost all traffic ticket attorneys charge a flat rate. A flat rate means that you will pay a predetermined set amount and not be charged by the hour. If a traffic ticket attorney is trying to charge you by the hour, you should continue looking around.
If you want to hire a Pierce County Traffic Lawyer to fight your traffic ticket, you need to decide your number one buying decision? If you are the type of person who buys solely on price, I would suggest going to one of the attorney listing services (like Avvo.com, Justia.com, or Findlaw.com) and calling each attorney to find out their price and see if they will beat the cheapest one you have found. Attorneys are in the business of selling their time and knowledge. Some have a lot more time and a lot less experience. As the saying goes, buy nice or buy twice.
If the price is not your number one buying decision and you prefer paying a little extra to have the best, you should expect to pay around $250+. Our office traditionally charges $250 for standard speeding or other types of traffic tickets in Pierce County District Court. Our quote could be more if your alleged speed were significantly over the posted speed limit or if you have multiple violations on your ticket. Not all traffic ticket attorneys are created equal, and the tier-one traffic ticket lawyers in Pierce County charge between $250 and $300.
Can lawyers get speeding tickets dismissed in Pierce County District Court?
They can, and the good ones routinely do. At least once a week, we get calls from potential clients who want us to guarantee that we will dismiss their Pierce County District Court speeding ticket. I always find this question so interesting because no one can guarantee something that will happen in the future. We always tell them that we or any other traffic ticket attorney cannot guarantee an outcome for their case, but we have an excellent track record of success.
Fighting traffic tickets is a volume-based game. Meaning that the more you do, the more success you have. If you know the issues that work with the particular judges, you can beat the ticket. The key is understanding the issues that work! The only way to know the issues is to fight a lot of speeding tickets.
Instead of asking for a guarantee, ask about their experience, ask them how many tickets have they fought in that court, ask them if they know the judges’ names and how they rule on specific issues. If you want the best chance to get your speeding ticket dismissed, it’s a good idea to find a speeding ticket lawyer who has fought a ton of speeding tickets.
Location of the Pierce County District Court
If you received a speeding ticket or another type of traffic infraction while driving on I-5, SR 16, SR 167, SR 410, or SR 512, you would likely be dealing with the Pierce County District Court.
County-City Building, Room 239
930 Tacoma Ave. S.
Tacoma, WA 98402
Types of Traffic Violations in Pierce County
When most people think about a traffic ticket, the first thing that usually pops into their minds is a speeding infraction. A Speeding infraction, by far, is the most well-known type of violation among the different kinds of traffic offenses a driver can commit. In reality, there is a numerous amount of traffic violations that exist in the state of Washington, and they are not all treated the same. In fact, traffic infractions in Washington are classified as either moving or non-moving violations. Depending on the offense, some non-moving violations are not as serious as moving violations, but you could still incur fines and penalties. When you are out and about, it could be helpful to know the difference.
A moving violation consists of a driver who commits an offense while operating a vehicle. In other words, the vehicle has to be in motion in order to count as a moving violation, otherwise, it would be considered a non-moving offense. Though moving violations are mainly infractions, some can be much more serious. The more serious moving violations can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. Examples of serious moving violations include DUIs, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, it is imperative that you seek a criminal defense attorney right away.
The most common moving violations include the following:
- Speeding over the posted speed limit
- Not adhering to safe driving speed for road conditions
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Failing to use turning signals when required
- Failing to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you
- Failing to yield to a right-of-way
- Violation of seat belt and child safety seat laws
- Not stopping for a pedestrian as required
- Texting or holding a phone while driving
- Driving without a valid license
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Driving without lights
- Improper passing
- High occupancy vehicle lane violation
- Impeding traffic
Even though the most common types of moving violations do not result in jail time or harsh penalties like those associated with misdemeanors or felonies, they should be taken seriously. If you fail to take care or ignore a moving violation ticket, you could face increased fines and penalties, losing your driver’s license, and arrest. Therefore, it is not wise to avoid any traffic violations that you may have obtained.
If you have been stopped due to a more common moving violation, it is highly recommended to talk to a traffic ticket attorney in Pierce County, WA. A traffic ticket attorney can assess your specific case and determine the best options for your circumstance. In most cases, it is beneficial to hire a traffic ticket attorney in Pierce County, WA because they are able to get the fines and penalties reduced or even dropped. Aside from helping you avoid costly penalties and fines, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help keep your driving record clean, which results in lower insurance rates, and help keep your license from getting suspended.
Non-moving violations, as the term suggests, refers to infractions on vehicles that are stationary. In the state of Washington, non-moving infractions include tickets issued by a street camera, driving with expired plates or registration, leaving an unattended vehicle running parking offenses, as well as violations relating to a person’s driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration.
It can be confusing sometimes to determine whether an infraction is indeed a non-moving violation. If you are unsure whether an offense falls under the moving or non-moving category, you can contact a traffic ticket attorney in Pierce County, WA to advise you on your particular circumstance. You could also verify the infraction under the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).
Since the state of Washington does not employ a point system for violations, the majority of fractions, moving and non-moving, will appear on your driving your record. The only exception for non-moving violations that will not appear on a driving record are parking tickets and tickets issued by a street camera. It is important to note that both moving and non-moving violations will remain on a driving record for three years. Although non-moving infractions appear on a driving record, insurance companies do not usually increase insurance rates due to these types of infractions unless the infraction deems a person a high-risk driver.
If you are worried about whether your non-moving infraction poses a risk to your insurance or driving record, contact an expert traffic ticket attorney in Pierce County, WA to evaluate your situation. Enlisting a traffic ticket attorney in Pierce County, WA will not only provide you with invaluable legal advice, but will also take care of all the legal documents and lengthy process. They will take care of the entire process from the moment you hire them until your case has been settled. Whether you are facing a Moving or non-moving violation, a traffic ticket attorney in Pierce County, WA has the resources and experience to get you the best possible outcome.