Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

Ph# (206) 459-1310

Posts made in May, 2015

By on May 25, 2015 in Civil Rights, Court, Judges, Sentencing/Penalties, Traffic Ticket | 1 comment

Last week the Washington Supreme Court voted to raise the base penalty of traffic tickets by $12. Unfortunately the net result of that increase will be more than $12, and the increase will hurt our must vulnerable citizens.In Washington we calculate fines  by starting with “base penalties.” This link lists the base penalties of almost all infractions on the books.  But there’s another phrase in that link: “statutory assessments.” These are assessment that, via statute, raise the base penalty. This can more than double the penalties listed in the link. Let’s take an extreme example: Negligent Driving in the Second Degree (Neg 2). We can see from the list of base penalties that Neg 2 is among the highest base penalties. $250 is indeed pretty steep for traffic ticket. But then we add statutory assessments. $250 base + $250 x .7 from RCW 3.62.090(1) + ($250 x .7) x .5 from RCW 3.62.090(2) + $5 from RCW 46.63.110(7)(a) + $10 from RCW 46.63.110(7)(b) + $2 from RCW 46.63.110(7)(c) + $20 from RCW 46.63.110(8)(a) =* $549.50, which is permissibly rounded up, to get a final fine of $550. When the newly increased fines go into effect, plugging the new base penalty of Neg 2 is $262. The formula gives us a new final fine of $574. On the one hand that’s not substantially higher, but on the other hand due to these additional assessments the fine increases to double what was announced. This $24 difference on an already high fine may mean little to you or me but it may be a significant burden to others. For those $574 could represent an entire week of work, or even more. And taking the time off work to contest the ticket, or hiring a lawyer to fight it for you, has costs as well. For a family scraping by paycheck to paycheck, one of these tickets can be brutal. Members of the judiciary have taken notice of the disproportionate effect of raising the penalties of infractions. Judge Kessler, who I’ve written about before, sent an email to other judges decrying this increase as unfairly burdensome to the poor. The email was leaked to local rag The Stranger. The article is well worth a read but this line sums...

Read More
The facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters in which results and testimonials have been provided. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.