Don’t panic. Be polite at all times. An officer may have already decided to give you a ticket, but acting angry and obnoxious won’t help you. In fact, if you are rude and uncooperative, the officer is likely to put a notation on the ticket to inform the prosecutor not to give you a deal or reduction in fines. Never admit guilt. If a policeman asks, “Do you know why I stopped you”, never answer in the affirmative. Any admissions you make can and will be used against you. It is better for you to say, “No, I don’t know why you stopped me. Would you mind explaining to me what you think I did?” If you get an answer, do not argue with the officer. Follow instructions and keep calm and polite at all times.
Do I have to sign the speeding ticket?
No. Prior to 2006 it used to be a crime (gross misdemeanor) for someone to refuse to sign a traffic citation. The law only requires that the officer affirm that a copy of the ticket or citation was provided to you. But remember the advice about being polite and cooperative – while it is not necessary to sign, refusing to sign may make you look uncooperative and hostile. This could have an impact on the way in which a judge looks at your case at a later date.
What if I completely ignore the ticket?
In Washington, a speeding ticket is an infraction punishable by only a fine. If you ignore the ticket, it will be defaulted and deemed to have been committed and will be sent to a collections agency. This will impact your credit. The Department of Licensing will also be notified of your failure to respond to the ticket. Eventually, the Department of Licensing will suspend your driver’s license. If you are then stopped for speeding or another traffic violation, you will also be charged with Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree. This is a crime punishable by up to 90 days in jail. So, it is in your best interests to respond to the ticket promptly. Ignoring it will have devastating insurance and liberty consequences, so don’t’ do it! One important note is that some driving offenses are actually crimes. You may think you were stopped and cited only for a traffic infraction, but instead, you may have been cited for a driving crime like Reckless Driving (Racing) or Negligent Driving in the First Degree. Ignoring a citation for these or other more serious crimes will result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest.
This article is made available by Lee & Lee, PS for educational purposes only. The intent is to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law. The article does not provide specific legal advice. Readers of this article should understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the writers. Furthermore, the article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction.