Ocean Shores, WA asked in Traffic Tickets for Washington

Q: My girlfriend was pulled over tonight because officer claimed she had a light out over license plate. He charged her for

No license. No mention of no light over license plate on ticket. This light in no way is a public danger issue. and I believe the law changed to prevent the police from using a license light not working as an excuse to issue a $553.00 no license ticket. What is her defense?. She does not have a driver's license and she was driving truck to do some grocery shopping. The truck is registered to me. Thanks

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1 Lawyer Answer
Antone Alfred Weber
Antone Alfred Weber
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Seattle, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: It is legal for an officer to pull over a vehicle when they are unable to read the license plate. The vehicle may be stolen. The vehicle may be unregistered. The registered owner of the vehicle may have warrants. The theory also holds for those cool-looking dark grey plate covers that people sometimes put on their car, or devices that attempt to prevent the plate being read by a red light photo camera. They may cite you for the plate light being out, but it is a fixit ticket, does not effect your insurance, and is usually dismissed by the court once you show the problem has been, well, fixed.

Never had a driver's license, her license is expired, or her license is suspended or revoked? The $553 fine makes it sound like a "No Valid Operator's License" infraction, which she might be charged with if never licensed, but they could also charge her criminally. The same if her license is expired. If suspended or revoked, it depends on why, but it is usually charged criminally. $1000 to $5000 fine, 90 days to 364 days in jail.

Defense? How to show she had something that she did not have. The best course is probably to ask for a hearing, and before that comes, get her license. The judge would then probably sharply reduce the fine.

And stop driving until she gets a license. Because if they let her off lightly with the traffic ticket for a first offense, a second may result in the aforementioned criminal charge. Higher fines. More court hearings. Possible jail time. A criminal record.

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