The West Seattle Herald published an informative article last week, with essential information for all Seattle drivers. The article describes pertinent information about traffic infractions, for which fines have gone up as of July 1, 2015:

Camera tickets are on the rise with more and more cameras being installed around the greater Seattle area. This includes Red Light Traffic Cameras and School Zone Safety Cameras. Fines for camera red light offenses have increased from $124 to $136. Speeding in school zones results in ticket fines of $201. Of note, camera fines are set and don’t account for how far over the speed limit the driver is driving. Sophisticated cameras will catch drivers going even one mile per hour over the speed limit passing a school when yellow lights are flashing. The fine will be the same for the driver going 1 mph over the limit as they are for the driver going 15 mph over the limit.

The article describes how the camera ticketing process works, including the equipment used and the methods utilized to capture corresponding images of the vehicle in violation and the vehicle license plate. The citation is then sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Washington law prohibits taking images of the faces of drivers or occupants, so photos and videos show the rear of the vehicle only. Pictures and video are available to vehicle owners, police, and court personnel (online).

The registered owner of the vehicle in violation has 18 days from when it is issued to respond to the citation. Options for response including requesting a hearing, signing a declaration that the owner was not driving the vehicle, or paying the fine.

According to the article, city data shows the increase in camera installation correlates with fewer accidents resulting in injury and a decrease in number of school zone camera violations.

Non-camera violations operate differently. Since the citation is written directly to the driver, signing a declaration is not an option. Speed scales exist for non-camera violations, with fines being variable based on how far over the speed limit the driver is going.

If you receive a traffic citation, camera or non-camera, consider contacting an experienced traffic attorneys. Many people quickly choose to pay their tickets without understanding the numerous reasons to fight them. Some citations will impact your insurance rates while others will not. The best way to know how to proceed is to speak with a knowledgeable traffic attorney.