What is an infraction?
Previously, many traffic and criminal charges were crimes. The Legislature
has decriminalized many traffic, parks, wildlife, and fisheries offenses. The
offenses are now called infractions and are civil cases.
What must I do if I receive
Start by reading the entire backside/front of your notice of infraction (ticket).
If you follow the instructions you can’t go wrong! You should note that you must
respond within fifteen (15) days of the date that the ticket was issued. An
infraction is not a crime, but failure to respond can result in the suspension
of your driver’s license. You can respond by either mailing the green ticket to
the Court or bringing it in person to the Clerk’s office. Select one of the
boxes on the back /front of the ticket and verify your address. If you select box one
(1) you are electing to pay the penalty as shown on the front of the ticket. If
you need to have the ticket cleared quickly, please pay by cash or money order.
What should I wear and
how should I act in court?
Suitable attire is required. Shoes and shirts are necessary. Halter tops,
tank tops, and shorts are not permitted. Hats are to be removed upon entering
the Courtroom. No smoking, food or drink will be allowed. Children may be
present in the Courtroom but if they disturb the proceedings you may be
requested to remove them. The Court does not provide childcare. Upon your
arrival, find your name on the calendar outside the Courtroom and then have a
seat in the proper Courtroom until the session convenes. You do not need to
check with the Clerk unless your name is NOT on the list. When your case
is called, come forward and stand behind one of the counsel tables until
instructed otherwise by the Judge.
What is a mitigation hearing?
A mitigation hearing is where you admit you committed the violation, but wish
to explain the circumstances of the infraction. To request a mitigation hearing
you should check box two (2). The Judge, depending on the explanation and your
record, may adjust the penalty. However, the Judge will not dismiss your ticket.
As the Court is required to forward all committed traffic tickets to the
Department of Licensing, it will appear on your driving record.
What is a contested hearing?
If you believe you did not commit the violation then you should select box
three (3) and have a contested hearing. Unless you request the officer to be
subpoenaed, the procedure at the hearing will be for the Judge to read the sworn
statement of the officer. Then you may testify or present any evidence or
witnesses that you wish. Pursuant to the Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited
Jurisdiction (IRLJ), you are entitled to a list of witnesses the plaintiff
intends to call at the hearing and a copy of the citing officers sworn statement
if it will be offered into evidence at the hearing. A copy of the officer
statement/affidavit has been enclosed. You must make your request for any other
Discovery to the Stevens County Prosecutor, 215 S. Oak Street, Room # 114, Colville, WA 99114
writing at least 14 days prior to the hearing. In many cases, the
plaintiff will offer the officer’s sworn statement into evidence to prove the
plaintiff’s case. If you wish to have the officer and any other witness
present for your case, you must serve a subpoena upon the officer and other
witnesses at least seven (7) days prior to the hearing. The subpoena may be
signed by a judge, court commissioner, clerk of the court, or prepared and
signed by a party’s lawyer. If the subpoena is for a witness who resides
outside Stevens County, a judge must sign it. A subpoena may be served by any
competent witness over the age of eighteen (not a party to the action) or by the
sheriff or peace officer of the jurisdiction in which the witness resides.
However, it may be served by first class mail ten (10) days prior to the hearing.
Proof of service must be filed with the court prior to the hearing. As a result
of a contested hearing the penalty may stay the same, be reduced, or the ticket
dismissed. In the event you have subpoenaed a witness you may be required to pay
court costs. A contested infraction hearing is a civil case and the Judge will
decide the case based on the preponderance of the evidence.
May I have a lawyer at a contested hearing?
You may, at your own expense, have a lawyer appear and represent you at your
hearing. If you are to be represented by counsel, the lawyer is required to file
a notice of appearance with the Court and the prosecutor prior to the hearing
date. A separate hearing is held when lawyers are involved and it is necessary
to have sufficient notice for scheduling.
Will the infraction appear on my driving record?
When you pay the penalty, mitigate, or if the Judge finds you have committed
a traffic infraction at a contested hearing, the state law requires that the
infraction be reported to the Department of Licensing. The infraction will then
appear on your driving record. Neither the Court Clerk, nor the Judge, has the
authority to keep the infraction off your record. If you win at a contested
hearing and the infraction is dismissed, it is not reported to the Department of
Licensing and will not appear on your driving record.
What if I do not pay my ticket or appear for a hearing?
A failure to pay or respond to the ticket within 15 days results in an order
that the infraction was committed. If you asked for a hearing and do not appear
your payment is due immediately. When an infraction is not paid in a timely
manner or a hearing missed, a $52 late penalty is added to the amount shown on
the ticket. Your license may then be suspended if the penalty is not paid
following a notice to pay the increased penalty, and the account may be assigned
to a collection agency.
Is there a right to appeal?
If you do not win at a contested hearing you have the right to appeal to the
Superior court of Stevens County. The notice of appeal must be filed within 30
days of the judgment. There will be various appeal costs, payable in advance,
including a $200 Superior Court filing fee and a $100 appeal bond. If you
appeal, the Superior Court will review the record that was made at the District
Court, but there will not be a new trial. The Clerk’s office will provide you
with information about the appellate process.
What if i can’t pay my penalty all at once?
If you can’t pay your entire penalty at the time of the hearing, the Judge
or the Clerk will work out a time payment agreement. This is a contract with the
Court for installment payments and must be strictly adhered to. Read the
contract carefully as failure to follow the contact can result in late fees, a
possible suspension of your license, and assignment of the account to a
collection agency. There is also a one-time payment fee of $10 - $25.