The rear-view mirror fills up with red lights… Your heart starts beating fast as you begin to anticipate comes next… DON’T PANIC!  Take a deep breath and use these steps for what to do if you are being pulled over for a traffic violation in Washington State:

  • Pull over safely: As soon as you see a police car trying to pull you over, put on your turn signal and pull over to the right as safely as possible. Turn off your radio, put your car in park, and try to have your license, registration, and insurance ready before the officer approaches.
  • Make the officer comfortable: Roll down your window. Have your hands where the officer can see them. Don’t rummage through your glove box. If you don’t already have your documents out, wait to get them until you advise the officer of your intentions.
  • Be polite to the officer: Being rude, accusatory, or overly defensive is only going to hinder the situation.
  • Do not incriminate yourself: Don’t admit to anything or answer trick questions like “Do you know why I pulled you over?” What you say can imply guilt and potentially be used against you later in court, but your silence cannot. A reasonable reply to this or a similar question might be, “I’m not sure, officer.”
  • Accept the ticket you receive: Sign the ticket when the officer asks you to. This is not an admission of guilt. It is simply an acknowledgement of receipt of the citation.
  • Drive safely to your destination: Don’t let this ruin your day.  Avoid panic and anger by contacting our experienced traffic attorneys as soon as possible to begin fighting your citation.
  • DUI: Please see our recent blog post for additional tips regarding what to do if you are being pulled over under suspicion of DUI in Washington State.

Why should I work with a traffic attorney?

-Traffic tickets are very often quite beatable:  The vast majority of traffic tickets can be dismissed in arguments before the court or in negotiations with prosecutors. If the case cannot be dismissed completely, an experienced traffic attorney can continue to fight and use creative legal approaches to negotiate the ticket to a non-moving violation, which is not reportable to insurance companies or employers.

-There is a lot at stake:  Put your fate in the hands of the experts. Penalties are significant. In addition to fines, traffic tickets can significantly affect your insurance rates, privilege to drive, and in some cases even your job.

  • Fines vary from court to court. There is not a state-wide value set for ticket prices, but they can be quite significant.
  • Insurance companies have access to your record with the Department of Licensing. Even ONE traffic ticket on your driving record can potentially increase insurance premiums for 3 years! Some insurance carriers will even cancel the policy of an insured when more than one traffic ticket is reported.
  • Commercial drivers are required to notify their employers of any traffic violations, putting their job and livelihood at risk.

-License Suspension:  Depending upon the severity of the infraction and past driving history, you may lose your privilege to drive. If you have 6 moving violations within 12 months, your license will be suspended for 60 days. (Department of Licensing).  You may be put on probation (conditional status which may lead to suspension) if you have 4 moving violations in a 12-month period or 5 moving violations in a 24-month period. If you are ticketed for 2 more moving violations during probation, you will face license suspension. There are certain single violations that could lead to suspension or revocation of driver’s license, including reckless driving, hit and run, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, and more.