Click to Home

Go To Search
Traffic Infractions
Traffic Infractions

1. What is an infraction?
2. What must I do if I receive an infraction?
3. What are my choices for responding?
4. What happens if I fail to respond or attend my hearing
5. What if I fail to pay the fine?
6. What type of hearings can I choose?
7. What happens at a mitigation hearing?
8. What happens at a contested hearing?
9. What court rules control infraction cases?
10. Will a traffic infraction appear on my driving record?
11. What is a deferred finding? Do I need to attend traffic school?
12. Do I qualify for a deferred finding? 


What is an infraction?
An infraction is a civil offense, not a crime. 

What must I do if I receive an infraction?
You must respond within fifteen (15) days of the date that the ticket was issued. Please follow the directions on the back of the ticket you received. A hearing date will be mailed to you at your last known address. 

What are my choices for responding?
You can simply pay the ticket or you can request a hearing. See local court rule 3.5(b) regarding liability insurance, handicapped parking, and expired tabs for further information. 

What happens if I fail to respond within 15 days or fail to attend my hearing?
The infraction will be deemed committed and you will owe the fine amount plus a $52 administrative fee. You must come to court in-person and request a show cause hearing if you want to reverse the consequences of your failure to respond or your failure to appear.
If you were cited for a moving or non-moving driving offense, then failure to respond and pay the amount owed to the court can result in the suspension of your driver's license. Driving with a suspended license is a crime.
If you were cited for a parking offense, then failure to respond and pay the amount owed to the court can result in your vehicle tabs not being renewed until the fines are paid.

What if I fail to pay the fine?
Unpaid fines will be sent to collections and there will be additional fees assessed. Unpaid fines could result in your license being suspended. 

What types of hearings can I choose?
You can choose a contested hearing or a mitigation hearing. Simply put, you should request a contested hearing if you do not believe you committed the infraction. You should select a mitigation hearing if you want the fine reduced and do not want to contest the ticket. 

What happens at a mitigation hearing?
You will have an informal discussion with the judge and the fine will be reduced based upon what you tell the judge. A fine will only be waived when a gross injustice would occur if a fine in any amount were imposed. The violation will go on your driving record and there is no appeal. 

What happens at a contested hearing?
At a contested hearing, the judge will read the sworn statement of the officer into the record. The judge will then put you and any witnesses you call under oath. The judge will then make a decision after you present your case. The city has the burden of proving that you committed the infraction, but only by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt like in a criminal case.
You will owe nothing and the ticket will not go on your record if the judge finds in your favor. If the judge finds against you then the fine will be the face amount shown on the ticket and it will go on your driving record. You will have 30 days to appeal a decision against you. Appeal paperwork and fee information for appeals is available from the clerk. Traffic Infraction SMD Certificates

What court rules control infraction cases? 
Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (IRLJ) and Federal Way Local Infraction Rules (FWMCLIR). 

Will a traffic infraction appear on my driving record?
Only if you pay the penalty, mitigate, or if the Judge finds you have committed a traffic infraction at a contested hearing. Parking tickets and photo enforcement tickets do not appear on your driving record. 

What is a deferred finding? Do I need to attend traffic school?
A "deferred finding" allows a qualified driver to keep the violation off their driving record if conditions set by the judge are satisfied. The conditions will include payment of costs of $175 and committing no other traffic violations for up to twelve (12) months. You can also get a deferred finding by attending traffic school. You can come to court before your hearing date and sign up for traffic school at the clerk’s window. Otherwise, you can request a deferred finding in front of the judge on your hearing date. 

Do I qualify for a deferred finding?
You qualify if you have not had a deferred finding in the past seven (7) years and do not have a commercial driver’s license.