What Is A Mitigation Hearing? When Would It Make Sense?
A driver who receives a ticket in Washington State has 15 days to choose from among three options: pay it, contest the infraction or ask for a mitigation hearing.
In 2018, law enforcement officers issued 738,746 traffic tickets to drivers in Washington State. More drivers – about 13% of all those ticketed – requested mitigation hearings than contested hearings. This is unfortunate because most people simply don’t understand what a mitigation hearing is.
In the long run, a fine reduction won at a mitigation hearing is nothing compared with the cost of higher insurance rates and the other impacts of adding a ticket to a motorist’s driving record.
What is a mitigation hearing?
In a mitigation hearing, the driver agrees an infraction was committed but then explains the circumstances – how and why it happened – in the hope that the judge will reduce the fine.
For example, in a speeding infraction case, the driver admits to speeding but wants to explain why. It’s important to understand that even if the reason seems quite legitimate, the judge won’t dismiss the ticket at a mitigation hearing.
To get a ticket dismissed, a driver should request a contested hearing to argue that the infraction didn’t occur.
A common mistake I see: people believe that because they have a good driving record, the judge maybe will give them a break. This could not be further from the truth! The judge is there to determine whether the driver committed an infraction on that particular day. Past driving habits and records are irrelevant.
When should I request a mitigation hearing?
It only makes sense to request a mitigation hearing when dealing with certain non-moving violations, such as driving without insurance or with an expired registration. Typically, when a driver shows the court that that the problem has been rectified, the judge will significantly reduce the fine. For example, a no-insurance infraction in Washington State carries a $550 fine. The judge often will reduce that fine by $300 or more if the driver shows they purchased insurance after the fact.
Do I get points on my license when I mitigate my traffic ticket?
Washington State does not use a point system; we are one of the few states that don’t. We do have limits about how many tickets a driver can accrue before incurring a license suspension, but we do not have a point system in the traditional sense.
For more information on Mitigation Hearings in the State of Washington, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (253) 201-2001 today.
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