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How Amended Tickets Work
When dismissal of your ticket is not possible, your attorney can often negotiate a plea to an amended infraction. This is a process in which the original violation is changed to a different violation (such as speeding to inattentive driving) in exchange for an agreement that the new infraction was committed. There are a few things that you need to understand about this process\:
Judges do not amend infractions: The prosecutor for the City or County must make the motion to amend. A judge can grant or deny this request, but the judge cannot do this on his or her own. Amendment can only result for a motion by one of the parties in the case.
Avoid Insurance and Employment Issues: Usually an amendment is from a moving violation (reported on your driving record and insurance) to a non-moving violation (not reported to DOL and/or Insurance). The real cost in tickets is usually the higher insurance premiums and employment issues. ?For the general public, the advantage of an amendment is saving money on insurance over the next 3 years. For CDL holders, and people that drive for a living, it can mean whether or not you will be able to work in your chosen profession for the next 5+ years.
Tickets information cannot be "expunged"Washington law dictates what can and cannot be reported by the DOL to insurance, employers, law enforcement and the like. However, the information that is reported to DOL remains in their system forever. There is no way to have this removed. In addition, all ticket cases filed, and their outcomes, are reported on the State's Judicial Information System. This information is not available to the public, but can be accessed by court staff, prosecutors, law enforcement and some attorneys. Because of this, it can matter what the outcome of a ticket is long after the 3 year insurance window is closed.
The facts are irrelevant For the purposes of an amended infraction you can agree that you committed any offense you want to. Thus, while the facts may help you negotiate a better deal, it doesn't matter what actually happened if you are pleading to an amended infraction. This is why a speeding ticket can be amended to a cell phone violation even when the driver was not talking on his or her cell phone.
The goal of ticket defense is always to seek dismissal first. If that is not possible then an amendment may be the best option. An experienced ticket attorney can usually use weaknesses in the case to negotiate an outcome that works well for you. The better one understands the Rules of Evidence, Rules of Procedure and Court Rules, the better the chance of getting an amendment.