Frequently Asked Questions about Tacoma Traffic Tickets

The information contained here is intended to address the most frequently asked questions about traffic and non-traffic infractions. It is not comprehensive and should not be construed as legal advice. Those in need of legal advice should consult an attorney.

Q: How much time do I have to respond to a traffic ticket I received from a police officer?

A: If you received a copy of a traffic infraction (a ticket) from a police officer, it is a non-criminal offense for which jail cannot be imposed. You must respond to the infraction within fifteen (15) days from the date it is issued to you. Your mailed response must be mailed no later than midnight on the day the response is due, or you can submit it in person by the due date. You must check one of the boxes on your copy of the ticket and return it to the courthouse location listed on the front of the ticket.

Q: What will happen if I do not respond to the ticket or I do not appear for my requested court hearing?

A: The court will find that you failed to respond or appear (FTA) and the infraction is deemed committed.
You must pay the fine that appears on the ticket and a $52 default penalty. If you fail to pay these penalties they will be sent to a collection agency. The Department of Licensing (DOL) will be advised of the FTA and may suspend your driving privilege.

Q: How do I complete the response to the traffic ticket?

A: The back of the ticket lists the options you have for responding to the ticket: (1) payment, (2) request a mitigation hearing, or (3) request a contested hearing. You should put an “x” in the box indicating your response, sign your name, and provide your current mailing address. Your response should be sent to the courthouse location listed on the front of the ticket.

Q: How do I request a deferred finding on a traffic infraction?

A: The law permits a judicial officer to defer (postpone) the reporting of a traffic violation to the Department of Licensing (DOL) upon certain conditions.

The judicial officer may defer the ticket for up to twelve (12) months on conditions deemed appropriate.

  • A driver may only receive a deferred finding once every seven (7) years for a moving violation, once every seven (7) years for a non-moving violation.
  • Conditions of the deferral may include no traffic infractions or criminal traffic violations for twelve (12) months from the date the court enters the deferred finding.
  • Court costs of $150 for monitoring the person’s driving record may be imposed.

Q: What happens if I violate the conditions of a deferred finding?

A:  If you fail to comply with the conditions of the deferred finding, the deferral is revoked. You are required to pay the original fine that appears on the ticket, plus any unpaid court costs. The violation will be reported to the DOL.

Q: How do I request a deferred finding?

A:  If you appear for a mitigation or contested hearing, you may request the judicial officer to grant a deferred finding when you appear for the hearing. If you choose to submit a “Written Response” for your mitigation or contested hearing, you may include the request for a deferred finding in your written response.

Q: Instead of appearing in court for my mitigation or contested hearing, may I submit my response in writing?

A:  Yes, the court rules allow you to submit your sworn written response for a mitigation or contested hearing by mail. If you choose to proceed with a hearing by written statement, you are not required to appear in court for the hearing; although you will still receive a notice of the hearing may receive a reminder phone call.

  • You must complete the Defendant’s Statement Form and mail it to the court prior to your scheduled hearing. You can download a copy of this form from this website.
  • Your sworn written statement must be received by the court at least seven (7) days prior to your scheduled hearing. Statements not received seven (7) days prior to the scheduled hearing will not be considered. If the court does not receive your written statement and you fail to appear (FTA) for the hearing, the infraction is deemed committed and a $52 default penalty is added. The FTA is reported to the DOL and your driving privilege may be suspended. You will not be allowed to renew your driver’s license until the penalty is paid. Unpaid penalties will be sent to a collections agency.

Q: How do I request relief from the Court if I failed to timely request a hearing, pay a ticket, or failed to appear for my scheduled hearing?

A: You may submit a Request for Relief From Judgment or Order to the Court. The request must be in writing, signed under penalty of perjury, and clearly set for the reasons for the relief you request. A judge/commissioner will review your request and you will be advised in writing of what relief, if any, is granted. For details, review local infraction rule LIRLJ 6.7(a) and the form on this website.