Traffic Infraction Information
This brochure is intended to provide general information regarding infraction cases. For more detailed information, please consult applicable laws and court rules. District Court may assist the parties with procedure, but is not allowed to give legal advice.
Please refer to the citation number at the top of the citation when contacting our office. Our office is located on the ground floor of the Clark County Courthouse at 1200 Franklin Street in Vancouver, WA. Hours are from 8:00am to 4:30pm weekdays, except legal holidays. Evening hearings are available the first Tuesday of each month starting at 5:00pm. Otherwise, hearings are during the day.
What is an infraction?
Infractions are tickets issued by law enforcement agencies for minor, non-criminal offenses. The judge may impose a fine, but cannot sentence you to jail.
What must I do if I am cited for an infraction?
Begin by reading the citation. There are three boxes, or choices. It is important that you respond in one of those three ways within fifteen (15) days of the date the infraction was issued, or an additional penalty of $52 will be added. An infraction is not a crime, but failure to respond could result in the suspension of your driving privileges. You can respond by checking the appropriate box, and either mailing your copy of the infraction, or bringing it to the District Court office. Be sure to verify that your mailing address is written correctly on the infraction. Also, please specify if you would like to appear at night court.
Can I just pay the ticket?
Yes. If you select box (1), you are electing to pay the full amount of the penalty shown on the front of the infraction, and need not appear in court. Violations will appear on your driving record. Citations issued for not carrying proof of insurance may be dismissed if you bring in or mail proof you were insured on the date and time the infraction was issued, and pay a $25 administrative fee to the court.
How do I pay a fine?
You may pay in person, by mail, online or over the phone. You may mail your copy of the infraction and enclose a check or money order, payable to District Court. Please write the infraction number on the check. If your check is not honored, your case will be re-opened, a $25 returned check fee will be added, and a hold will be put on your driver’s license. There is a drop box located on the ground floor of the courthouse at 1200 Franklin Street. The hours are: 8:00am-4:30pm Monday through Friday. You may pay online at www.clark.wa.gov/district-court or by phone at (866) 923-8236. There is a small fee to pay by debit/credit card.
What is a mitigation hearing?
Check box two (2) on the citation to request a mitigation hearing. If you request a mitigation hearing, you are admitting the infraction but want to explain the circumstances and ask the judge to reduce the fine or enter deferred findings. The court will send notice of a hearing date by mail, or set one immediately if you bring your citation into the District Court office. You can also request “night court” if you are unable to appear during regular business hours.
Courtrooms are assigned the morning of court. Please refer to the monitors in the courthouse. At the hearing, the judge may adjust the penalty depending on the explanation and your record. You may ask witnesses to attend, but cannot require them to do so. The judge will not dismiss the infraction, and it will appear on your driving record. You may pay the penalty after the hearing, or request additional time to pay. Citations issued for Speeding in a School Zone, Speeding in a Construction Zone, Passing a school bus with Red Lights Flashing, Failure to Initially Register Vehicle or Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle cannot be mitigated.
What is a contested hearing?
If you believe you did not commit the infraction, you may select box three (3) to request a contested hearing. At the hearing, the judge will read a sworn statement of the officer, unless you have requested the officer to be present. A blank subpoena form is available in our office to subpoena the law enforcement officer of the infraction. The subpoena must be served at least seven days before the hearing. If you wish to have other witnesses appear and testify at the hearing, you will be responsible for having those witnesses present. After hearing the testimony and reviewing the evidence, if the judge finds you did not commit the infraction, it will be dismissed. If the judge finds you did commit the infraction, they may impose the full amount of the fine and set a due date.
Can I mitigate or contest an infraction without coming to court?
Yes. You may explain the circumstances surrounding the commission of the infraction, contest the infraction or request deferred findings by mail or email. Send your explanation and any documentary evidence you would like the judge to consider to the court at the mailing or email address on the back of this brochure. The court will review your explanation and send you a written response. Decisions on contested-by-mail cases cannot be appealed. Your matters must be received or postmarked no later than the hearing date, if a hearing is set, or within fifteen days of the day you received the citation.
May I have a lawyer?
You may, at your own expense, have a lawyer appear and represent you at the hearing. Since your infraction is not a criminal matter, you are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney.
How can I keep this violation off of my driving record? What is Deferred Finding?
You may request deferred findings, either at a hearing or by mail. If the court grants your request, the court will defer entering a finding against you and will not report the violation to Department of Licensing (DOL) for one year. If you do not commit another violation for one year after findings are deferred, the matter will be dismissed. If you do commit another violation, or fail to pay the fee, it will be reported to DOL and you will be required to pay the full amount on the citation. You may defer one moving and one non-moving violation every seven years.
You must pay a non-refundable fee of $150. This helps defray the cost of monitoring your driving record for the following year. The court typically makes this fee due in two weeks, but may give you additional time if you need it.
The court may require you to meet certain conditions, such as obtaining insurance, registering a vehicle or completing a safe driving course prior to entering deferred findings. The court cannot defer a finding if you have a commercial drivers license, were operating a commercial motor vehicle or are cited with Negligent Driving 2nd Degree with a Vulnerable User Victim.
Is there a right to appeal?
If you contest the infraction and it is found committed, you may appeal the court's decision. You can obtain the necessary paperwork from the District Court office. The notice of appeal must be filed in District Court within 30 days of the judgment. You must pay a $230 filing fee, and there may also be other costs. Your case will be reviewed by the Superior Court for errors, but there will not be a new trial.
What if I don’t pay?
If you do not pay, the court will add a $52 penalty and notify the Department of Licensing, which may result in a suspension of your driving privileges. The court refers all cases that are past due to a collection agency. Once a case is referred to a collection agency, you can no longer pay at our office.
Our goal is to be helpful and responsive to the public. Please call our office at (564) 397-2424 if you have any questions we have not answered in this brochure. Our office hours are from 8:00am to 4:30pm weekdays, except legal holidays. Phones are closed from 12:00pm to 1:00pm.
Be sure to read your hearing notice when you receive it, as it contains more information that may be important to you.
- Be sure to read your hearing notice when you receive it, as it contains more information that may be important to you
- Most courtrooms are on the 2nd floor
- No hats, gum, food, drink, or weapons are allowed in the courtrooms
- Turn cell phones and pagers off
- Talking is permitted only by the judge, those whose case is being heard, and court personnel
- Children must be quiet and well behaved
- Please dress appropriately
Clark County District Court
1200 Franklin Street
PO Box 9806
Vancouver, WA 98666-8806
Phone: (564) 397-2424