So this is my first ticket ever, and I'm not quite sure how to respond to this ticket, other than sheer disappointment, and would like to ask this forum for advice.
Here's what happened. I was driving north on hwy 99/aurora at around 9pm and was stuck behind a lexus rx300 who was going below the speed limit in the left lane, and I had been following it for about half a mile and decided to overtake it by merging into the right lane and speeding up. I checked my blind spots and proceeded to do so. I forgot to use my blinkers. So after that I merged back into the left lane, again not using my blinkers. After I had passed the Lexus, they pulled into the middle lane to make a left turn. I then proceeded at the speed limit. When I notice a police vehicle behind me. Because I drive a white STI, a Subaru Impreza with the big wing on the back, and I just made a pretty aggressive move I decide to turn off of hwy 99 at the next intersection. That's when the dreaded blue and red lights were turned on.
I proceeded to stop on the side of the side street. It took the officer a bit of time to approach my vehicle, I guess he was running my plates or something because while he was talking to me I heard that my plates were clean. Is it normal for an officer to take what seemed like a couple minutes to approach my vehicle? When he approached he started with something along the lines of "What makes you think you can weave through traffic like that?" And I stated that I was just trying to over take a slow vehicle in the left lane. He mentioned that I didn't use my blinkers, to which I replied that I did check my blind spots, and to that he replied, "So?". After some digging around, after I got home, he was right with that remark I guess you do have to signal everytime you merge/turn your vehicle. That aside here's where my problem becomes unique.
Firstly, despite having a new vehicle, a little over 6 months old, with Washington license plates, I have a California Drivers license, which is still valid (i.e. not expired). The officer informed that I needed a WA license when I become a WA resident. I was unaware of this and he let me off with a warning about that.
Secondly, registration. I have current tabs on my license plate which I got in november/december of 2007. When asked to provide registration, I couldn't find the darned thing. And as of this moment I still have to find it. All I had in the car, remotely close to registration, was the paperwork from the dealership with my name and current address on it. Again I was fortunate that he let me off with a warning citing that I had current tabs on my vehicle and that I needed to find my registration when I got home.
Lastly, insurance. I have it, just not the most current piece of paper with me in the car. The insurance "expired in october of 07". When the officer pointed out to me that it was expired, I explained that the insurance company pulls money out of my bank account monthly. But I couldn't produce current insurance coverage. He told me that all I had to do was show them that I had insurance and that charge would be taken off my ticket. Here's my second question, who's them, the court? I'm not sure if this helps, but on my insurance card which I found at home, says that it is valid for March of '08 until September of '08.
So to summarize, I've got two infractions on my ticket, RCW 46.61.140 and RCW 46.30.020 "Improper Lane Travel/Unsafe Lane Change" and "No Vehicle Insurance" respectively.
Which leads me to more questions, as this ticket is written in King Co. what are the conditions of requesting a deferral? The potential condition of deferral that I think I might violate is the "No Vehicle Insurance" infraction on my ticket. I technically did have insurance, but the paperwork I had with me was expired and by a lot as it seems. And I came across a website as I wa researching how to respond to a ticket, that one of the conditions that invalidates a deferral request is No Insurance, but I was unsure if that also applied to King Co.
I have no qualms about paying the fine, I just don't want this ending up on my record for fear of my insurance climbing to an unfathomable amount. Since I got the ticket on 5-10 it says I have 15 days to respond, does that mean 15 business days or is it just normal calendar days? Also how should I respond. I'd very much like not to have anything on my record. But of the three options I don't see the deferral option, which by my understanding if granted does not go on your record right?, The first two options have a sentence saying, "I understand this will go on my driving record if 'traffic' is checked on the front." So does that mean I have to check contested hearing in order to get a deferral? I guess what I have to ask before that is when I check one of these boxes what do I do with it?
Another question I'd like to ask if I do have to do some kind of court hearing, on average or guess, how far out is the court date?
Sorry for the super long post and the sheer volume of questions. Any and all advice that you may have is greatly greatly appreciated. Thanks again! I look forward to your advice.