You're late for work, or maybe you didn't see the stop sign, or you just forgot to signal, or the light didn't stay yellow long enough. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes sometimes, and traffic tickets happen.
While anyone can find themselves pulled over for speeding or other traffic violations, it is an indicator of unsafe driving if you accummulate a number of traffic tickets over time. In addition, your insurance rates are likely to rise, and Washington's Department of Licensing (DOL) has a policy for repeat violators.
While the DOL doesn't have a point system, the state does penalize Washington drivers who get multiple traffic tickets within certain time frames.
If you get convicted of four moving violations within a year, or five moving violations within two years, your license will be suspended for 30 days. In some cases, you can avoid the suspension by attending a driver awareness group meeting.
What to Do When You Get a Ticket
When you are given a traffic citation by law enforcement, the ticket is processed not by the DOL, but by the court in the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. You will usually have the choice of either paying a fine or appearing in court on the date and time listed on the ticket.
If you neither pay the fine by the deadline nor appear in court to plead guilty or innocent, the judge might issued a bench warrant for your arrest on the charge of "failure to appear." While paying the fine is the easiest way to go, it means that you plead guilty to the charge of the citation, which will then appear on your driving record.
If you've already had a number of tickets and are at risk for having your license suspended, you might choose to fight the ticket in court. A traffic ticket attorney can help you with your case if you choose this route.