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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    2

    Default Washington State Red Light Ticket

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Washington

    I recently received a notice from the City of Fife for a Red light violation. The ticket was sent to me because I am the registered owner. I was not the operator of the car nor do I care for or control access to the car.. Most likely the operator was my son, but I have no way to be sure.

    One option I have in responding is to check that I was not in care, custody or control of the car. That seems to be the approriate response but I would appreciate additional insight. How have to courts interpreted this option? What does care, custody, or control really mean?

    If you check this box, they ask for the name of the person who was in control. Is it required that I give this info as I cannot be 100% sure who it was?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    793

    Default Re: Washington State Red Light Ticket

    Quote Quoting moonedo
    View Post
    If you check this box, they ask for the name of the person who was in control. Is it required that I give this info as I cannot be 100% sure who it was?
    Washington State law does NOT require that you implicate another person. However, the reply form that came with your ticket probably includes additional language something like, “All fields must be filled out or this form will be regarded as incomplete.” That means when you sign the form you are agreeing to volunteer information that is not required by law, and if you leave it out your form might be rejected. If it is rejected they might schedule you for a hearing, or worse yet they might treat it as a “Decision on Written Statements” and rule against you with no possibility for appeal. The court’s jurisdiction is limited to what is allowed by statute unless you unwittingly waive some of your rights.

    That is why I would never use the form supplied by the private company which operates the cameras to declare that I was not the operator. However, the City of Fife Municipal Court does have an alternative form with no additional requirements to implicate anyone else. It can be found on their Court Forms and Information page (scroll to bottom half, click “Declaration of Non Responsibility” and download or open the Word doc). If you use this form, be sure to clearly mark the check box or the form will be incomplete. If you mail it, request a return receipt and mail before the due date. Fife’s form does not mention anything about notarization, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Some courts, such as Renton Municipal, actually state that mailed forms must be notarized.

    Here is the law about rebutting the presumption that you were operating the car:
    Quote Quoting RCW 46.63.075
    Safety camera infractions — Presumption.

    (1) In a traffic infraction case involving an infraction detected through the use of an automated traffic safety camera under RCW 46.63.170 or detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180, proof that the particular vehicle described in the notice of traffic infraction was in violation of any such provision of RCW 46.63.170 and 46.63.180, together with proof that the person named in the notice of traffic infraction was at the time of the violation the registered owner of the vehicle, constitutes in evidence a prima facie presumption that the registered owner of the vehicle was the person in control of the vehicle at the point where, and for the time during which, the violation occurred.

    (2) This presumption may be overcome only if the registered owner states, under oath, in a written statement to the court or in testimony before the court that the vehicle involved was, at the time, stolen or in the care, custody, or control of some person other than the registered owner.
    I added emphasis to the words “only” and “some”. “Only” precludes any other means of rebutting your ticket. In other words, any additional details you offer will NOT rebut the presumption.

    Merriam-Webster defines “some” as “being an unknown, undetermined, or unspecified unit or thing <some person knocked>.” So the law would mean "an unknown, undetermined, or unspecified person other than the registered owner."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    2

    Default Re: Washington State Red Light Ticket

    Thanks. Does not being the driver satisfy the requirment of being in the care, custody, or control of some person other than the registered owner.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    793

    Default Re: Washington State Red Light Ticket

    The main exception would be if you had an employee/agent using your car, which is explained at the top of Fife’s Declaration of Non-responsibility. That does not appear to be true based on your description. I’m definitely no expert on the term “care, custody or control” but in general it has to do with who was responsible for the vehicle at the time. If it were me I would go ahead with the declaration because the court does not mention any exceptions other than the employee/agent.

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