Tacoma Traffic Violations Lawyers
Helping Clients Who’ve Been Accused of Traffic Infractions
Being issued a traffic ticket is just about the quickest way to ruin someone’s day. Whether you believe these tickets help encourage everyone to drive safely and follow the rules of the road, or you think they are just a way for the government to make money, the consequences of receiving a ticket can be costly. It can include license suspension, increased insurance rates, or, in the case of a commercial driver’s license holder, the loss of your job.
Although speeding is the most common type of ticket most people will have to deal with, a driver could be issued a ticket for:
- lack of proof of insurance,
- no valid license on person,
- following too close,
- failure to yield or stop at a red light or stop sign,
- failure to signal,
- cell phone violation,
- passing a stopped school bus,
- driving on the wrong side of the road or going the wrong way down a one-way street,
- improper lane travel,
- violation of the carpool/HOV lane,
- or negligent driving in the second degree, just to name a few.
If you want to try and avoid negative legal consequences happening to you, hiring an experienced and skilled traffic lawyer will put you in a good position for a positive outcome.
If you hire our top-rated Tacoma traffic violation lawyers, our law offices will take over everything from there. It is very unlikely you will have to appear at your contested hearing. Our goal is to take all the stress and worry about your ticket off your shoulders. Our #1 goal is always to get your ticket dismissed. If that is not an option, we will work to get your ticket amended to a lesser infraction, preferably a non-moving violation.
Below you will find a small bit of information on the most common types of tickets drivers receive. This is in no way an exhaustive list, so having us review your ticket is always recommended. You will also find answers to the most common questions we receive.
If during your research you wish to talk to a member of our legal team, you may contact us at 253-465-2722.
How Can Our Law Offices Help You with a Speeding Ticket?
A speeding ticket is the most common type of ticket drivers receive. Often, the long-term harm to your insurance rates is worth the cost of hiring an attorney to contest the ticket instead of simply paying it.
Fighting a speeding ticket involves knowing extensive case law, the rules of evidence, how the radar and laser devices work, the type of maintenance and calibration these machines need to function properly, what testimony the officer is required to provide to support the charge, and a host of other arguments and technical know-how. A good attorney knows what arguments a judge will accept and what arguments they will reject. Our local speeding ticket lawyers have extensive experience in every court in Western Washington, and we know how the different judges operate.
Our speeding ticket attorneys also know the courts which have a prosecutor present for hearings. Not every court has a prosecutor present for traffic ticket hearings. Thus, knowing what issues are apparent in your ticket, knowing the judge, and then arguing/negotiating with the prosecutor may mean the difference between having your ticket found committed versus dismissed or amended to a non-moving violation, saving you money. We take great pride in knowing all the moving parts of a high-quality, experienced traffic ticket defense.
Although fighting traffic tickets seems like an easy level of the practice of law, to do it well over a long period of time takes a certain talent and skill. Our law offices have been successfully fighting traffic tickets for over 40 years. In fact, we handle the traffic tickets for the kids of many of our early clients.
How to Challenge Moving Violations like Negligent Driving Charges?
A ticket for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree is also a common ticket but is considered a more significant traffic violation than a mere speeding ticket. A conviction for a negligent driving second degree can have a disastrous impact on your insurance rates and prosecutors will look unfavorably on your driving record if you are ever facing a criminal traffic charge in the future.
In addition, the fines for this infraction are high – almost always $550. If there is any traffic ticket worth hiring an attorney for, it’s this charge. Just make sure whomever you hire is an attorney that has a history of successfully defending negligent driving tickets like we’ve got here at South Sound Law Group.
A person may be found guilty of negligent driving in the second degree if, under circumstances not constituting negligent driving in the first degree, he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers any person or property.
In this case, “negligent” means the failure to exercise ordinary care when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
These infractions can be issued when the officer witnesses your driving. Thus, they can act as a better witness for the government because they have personal knowledge of the actual driving. This infraction can also be issued as a result of an accident, often without the officer even witnessing the accident.
Defending these types of charges is always very fact-specific because the law enforcement officer has to provide enough details to show you were operating your vehicle in a manner that was both negligent and endangered or was likely to endanger persons or property. Thus, breaking the speed limit alone is usually insufficient without more facts.
Hiring an experienced and skilled legal team familiar with fighting this type of charge is critical to give yourself a better chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. Rarely do people representing themselves succeed in defending themselves in a courtroom against these types of charges.
Our firm has over 40 years of fighting Negligent Driving in the Second Degree infractions all over Washington. South Sound Law Group has the traffic ticket attorneys you want fighting for you!
What Impact Could a Car Accident Have on Your Driving Record?
When an officer makes a determination that you were at fault for an accident, you should worry about more than just the fine. First, an accident where you are found to be at fault will often raise your insurance rates. Second, insurance companies will often point to the fact that the officer found you at fault for the accident when analyzing civil claims. Fighting these types of tickets can have a greater impact than simply the cost of the ticket.
The most common tickets associated with an accident are:
- Following too closely,
- Negligent Driving 2nd degree,
- Right of way infractions – this includes failing to stop, failing to yield, vehicles entering the highway from a private road or driveway, driving on the wrong side of the road, and failure to properly signal.
Fighting these types of charges often hinges upon the fact that the officer was not present when the accident occurred. Thus, the government must rely on statements made by you, the other driver, and witnesses at the scene, if any. The government may also have some physical evidence or expert testimony if the officer is trained as an accident re-constructionist.
These types of tickets are always very fact-specific, and those facts will determine how to build your defense. This could be interviewing witnesses, taking pictures at the scene with you, preparing and obtaining declarations in support of your case, video evidence, or even hiring a professional to testify. It is unknown what will be needed to fight the charge, but having an experienced accident attorney is your surest way to obtain a favorable outcome.
If you were the victim of an automobile accident, we have experienced accident injury lawyers ready to help as well. Contact our law offices to schedule a free consultation.
How Can Commercial Drivers Avoid Suspended Licenses After a Traffic Offense?
No matter the violation, the consequences to Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders and business owners who receive tickets in their Commercial Motor Vehicles can be severe and put your job or business at risk. If you fall into this category, call us today to find out why you should always hire an experienced attorney to contest any ticket involving a CDL holder. We have a long history of fighting over-weight tickets, defective equipment, registration tickets, and accidents where the commercial driver was found at fault on the scene, just to name a few.
We work closely with numerous businesses in the industry and understand the unique facts and circumstances of driving commercial motor vehicles and the critical need to obtain a favorable result when a person has a CDL, or a business operates commercial motor vehicles. Over the years, we’ve helped our CDL clients save tens of thousands of dollars in fines and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance savings.
Driving a commercial vehicle these days is really tough. Everyone is on their phones or cutting you off when switching lanes. We take great pride in defending our commercial business and CDL clients because it often means protecting another local small business.
If you have a Commercial Driver’s License and received a ticket in your personal vehicle, or you got a ticket while driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle, or you are a business owner operating CMVs, and one of your drivers got a ticket, contact our law offices today to speak with a member of our experienced legal team and find out all of your options.
What Are Your Options After Receiving a Ticket?
Generally, when you receive a ticket, you have a few options.
- Pay the fine – In doing this, you are admitting that you committed the infraction; you must pay the fine listed on the ticket (failure to do so can lead to your license being suspended and/or being sent to collections). In addition, the committed finding will be listed on your Abstract Driving Record and often will negatively affect your insurance rates.
- Mitigation Hearing – In requesting a mitigation hearing, you are admitting that you committed the infraction but will be asking the court to reduce the fine. As above, because you are admitting that you committed the infraction, you will be found “guilty” and will face all of the same negative consequences listed above, but hopefully, a smaller fine than listed on the ticket.
- Contested Hearing – In requesting a contested hearing, you are NOT admitting that you committed the infraction and are challenging this fact. When you request a contested hearing, you will receive a hearing date and must appear on that date. A contested hearing calendar is usually an hour or two and you should clear your schedule for that amount of time as you never know how long it will take. Failing to appear will result in a committed finding, the issuance of the fine, and the Failure to Appear will be reported to the Dept. of Licensing. Depending on the court, you could be facing a prosecutor who may call the officer and/or State experts to prove their case. You will have to present your defense on your own to the judge and you have the ability to subpoena the officer, call witnesses, and present evidence. However, you will still be held to the standard of a licensed attorney even though you are representing yourself “pro se.” If you lose a contested hearing, you can appeal it to a higher court.
If this sounds daunting, your other option would be to hire an experienced legal team to contest the ticket for you.
- Contested Hearing by Affidavit – Some courts allow you to contest your ticket by simply mailing in an affidavit laying out your argument. If you choose to submit an affidavit by mail, you will not have to appear for a hearing in court, but you are not able to appeal the decision should you lose.
- Deferred Prosecution – This option is only available once every seven years and you may use this once for a moving violation and once for a non-moving violation during that seven-year timeframe. When entering into a deferred prosecution, you will be required to pay a fee, and you cannot have any new violations within a set term (usually six months to a year). Each court handles these a little differently including the amount for the fee and the amount of time you must remain violation free. If you do receive a new ticket and you are found to be in violation, and your deferred ticket is revoked, it will be found committed, and depending on the court, you may have to pay an additional fine on the revoked ticket.
Do You Need Legal Representation?
While you are not required to hire legal representatives, doing so will put you in the most favorable position to receive a satisfying outcome. An experienced and skilled traffic attorney will be more familiar with what evidence is necessary for your case, the foundation required for the judge to admit any evidence the government will attempt to use, and how to effectively cross-examine any of the government’s witnesses.
Hiring a skilled traffic attorney could put you in an excellent position to see your tickets dismissed. However, even if all the evidence is stacked against you, a lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor to amend your moving violation to a non-moving violation, a small fine, and potentially a traffic school class.
Why Hire South Sound Law Group?
If you decide to hire South Sound Law Group to handle your traffic ticket or speeding ticket, we will take over the entire process for you once we receive your payment and case number. We will let the courts and the prosecutors know that we are your legal representation, and we will make a request for any and all discovery the government intends to use.
Once we receive the facts (often just a police report), we may or may not need to discuss it with you. It is at this stage that we will decide whether you will need to be present for the hearing or not. Usually, the only reason we would need you present at the hearing is if the officer has written in their report statements attributed to you that the judge could interpret as a confession.
If you did not make the statements the officer puts in their report, you may need to be present to refute them; however, most of the time, we can avoid your presence in court by having you sign a declaration that we will prepare, which is used as your testimony. The reason for this is that the standard of proof is lower in these cases, and many judges believe that a confession is enough to reach the preponderance threshold.
However, for the large majority of our clients, they will never have to step foot in a courtroom. We will appear on your behalf at the contested hearing.
If your case looks weak or if there is a concern that your ticket may be found committed regardless of our strongest arguments, we will discuss your options. Often, the most critical aspect of the conversation is whether you would accept an amendment to a non-moving violation, thus avoiding an increase in your insurance rates, but that also carries a fine. Whether accepting an amendment is something you want to do should always be your decision, not your attorneys.
What Might Be Asked of You in Addition to Paying a Fine?
Our goal on a ticket is always a dismissal. Sometimes that is possible, sometimes not. If dismissal is not an option, depending on your history (how many tickets you’ve had in your lifetime and type), getting a prosecutor to amend a charge can become more complicated.
In order to obtain the most favorable result, sometimes that requires more than simply paying a fine.
The most common tools we can use to get a dismissal, or an amendment are:
- Defensive Driving Traffic School (this could be in-person or online),
- Community service,
- Work crew,
- or even an anger management class.
We believe we are only limited by our creativity and what the prosecutor will accept. For some drivers, the need to keep a ticket off their record is more important than having to do a little work to get there.
Although the best answer to the above question is “It Depends,” we will make sure to always discuss these options with you before accepting any offer. The choice should always be yours and not your traffic ticket attorney. Why? Because you have to spend the money or the time, not your attorney.
Nonetheless, having these alternatives can be a great tool to achieve a positive result, especially for people whose driving record is of paramount importance. Having an experienced infraction attorney that is familiar with all the tools available puts you in the best position to have your ticket resolved in a positive manner.
What is the Amendment Process?
Most drivers want to fight a traffic ticket to avoid increased insurance premiums. For most insurance companies, certain moving or non-moving violations will not impact the cost of your insurance. This means that in a courtroom where there is a prosecutor present it provides an additional way to obtain the desired result. Some prosecutors will offer this to pro se defendants as well, but you will have a better chance of receiving a favorable amendment if you hire an attorney. Moreover, an experienced traffic attorney will always try to find a way to get the case dismissed first before looking to obtain an amendment.
Having this option available can be very helpful when faced with an unwinnable case, a difficult judge, or when the risk of fighting and losing is too great for that driver. As stated above, your attorney should discuss all of your options prior to your contested hearing rather than just making this decision for you without consulting you first.
When accepting an amendment to a non-moving violation, there will still be a fine associated with the amendment because you will be found committed to the non-moving violation. This fine can range from a cost below the price of the original ticket to several hundred dollars more.
This price difference depends on your record, the facts of the case, and which court you are in. It is this reason why a prosecutor would be willing to offer an amendment, the government gets a little money and doesn’t have to have a full contested hearing, and the driver gets a break and hopefully learns their lesson.
Occasionally, in order to obtain an amendment, depending on the driver’s record and the facts of the case, some prosecutors will require the driver to do more than simply pay a fine. The most common add-ons would be community service, defense driving school (either online or in-person), or proof of restitution if the case involved damage to another’s property.
Again, your attorney should obtain your authority to accept an amendment prior to accepting it, especially if it involves these add-ons.
Call Our Tacoma Traffic Violation Lawyers Today
If you want to hire us to fight your ticket or if just have more questions, please give us a call at 253-465-2722 and speak to a member of our experienced legal team.