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  1. #1
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    Default School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    My question involves a speeding ticket from the State of: Washington

    I just discovered this site (was just going to pay the ticket, but it's been gnawing at me), unfortunately, my response will be due tomorrow. You guys are pretty awesome.

    I got a ticket in a school zone at 7:50 in the morning in Orting, WA. I knew that there was a school zone (my mother is actually the principal of the school), but I did not see the light flashing, it's like every four seconds, and you have to kind of watch it for awhile. The first school zone indicator is very close to the crosswalk, I am going to go measure how far in the morning. I understand it has to be 300 feet away?

    SMD is checked.

    Traffic did not slow, I went with the pace of everyone else. I was pulled over very quickly after the zone.

    The ticket is $308, and the officer told me that he reduced it to that.

    There are two speeds listed, first at 36 in a 20, then the officer's written words, "speeding (school zone) (35 mph in a 20mph zone)", on the ticket.

    I would love any advice.

    Thanks in advance, I hope.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    I'm not sure the 300 feet limit is going to help you, but I guess you can try that argument. The law is a little confusing, depending on whether it's a "crosswalk" or a "school" zone. RCW 46.61.440 states in part:
    Quote Quoting RCW 46.61.440
    Maximum speed limit when passing school or playground crosswalks Penalty, disposition of proceeds.

    (1) ... The speed zone at the crosswalk shall extend three hundred feet in either direction from the marked crosswalk.

    (2) ... The school or playground speed zone may extend three hundred feet from the border of the school or playground property; however, the speed zone may only include area consistent with active school or playground use.
    So, it looks like a "crosswalk" zone MUST be 300 feet, while a "school" zone MAY be 300 feet.

    Still, I don't know if that's enough.

    You actually may have an argument with the 4-seconds between flashes of the sign. In 4 seconds you will travel about 211 feet at 36 MPH. So, if it's not possible to see the "blink" (sunlight, perhaps) from 200 feet away, you will actually be past the sign the next time it blinks. You could photograph (on a sunny day) the sign from 200 feet both off and on, showing that from that distance, it's hard to see that it's on. Then time the flashes with a stopwatch -- or video them from closer in, better yet -- and bring the video and a stopwatch to court with you. If you take a video to court, be sure and call the Clerk to ask about equipment for viewing it.

    Oh, and the officer saved you about $80 by reducing the speed by 1 MPH.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    Thank you very much for answering those.

    Two follow ups, if it's not too much..

    Say the light doesn't flash often enough and the sign is too close to the crosswalk..I was still doing 35 in a 20. Should I contest or do the admit with an asterisk one? I can't remember what it's called right now, the one where you know you're at fault, but you want a further explanation.

    Also, the clerk said the ticket was filed 5 days after I got it, and she told me I had to respond within two weeks from the file date, not the ticket date. Is this correct?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    Quote Quoting jsmith
    View Post
    Say the light doesn't flash often enough and the sign is too close to the crosswalk..I was still doing 35 in a 20. Should I contest or do the admit with an asterisk one? I can't remember what it's called right now, the one where you know you're at fault, but you want a further explanation.
    You're talking about a changing your hearing selection from "contested" to "mitigation"? A mitigation hearing is where you admit you are guilty, but wish to explain -- usually in an attempt to reduce the fine. The problem with that is that the law states:
    Quote Quoting RCW 46.61.440
    (3) A person found to have committed any infraction relating to speed restrictions within a school or playground speed zone shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended.
    In other words, a mitigation hearing is of no consequence -- if you plead guilty or you're found guilty, you still pay the full amount. You really have nothing to lose by contesting.

    Quote Quoting jsmith
    View Post
    Also, the clerk said the ticket was filed 5 days after I got it, and she told me I had to respond within two weeks from the file date, not the ticket date. Is this correct?
    RCW 46.63.070 states:
    Quote Quoting RCW 46.63.070
    (1) Any person who receives a notice of traffic infraction shall respond to such notice as provided in this section within fifteen days of the date of the notice.
    That being said, I've talked to several Clerks about this. They've all told me that no one really gets too excited about this. A few days, one way or the other, won't usually make a difference. However, since the penalty is suspension of your license, I recommend getting your response in on time -- even if you have to hand carry it.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    I really appreciate all the help so far.

    I elected to mitigate, because I learned that I can request a deferment in Pierce County...from what I read, that may be my highest numbers bet.

    What should I do to present a good case for a deferment? Should I still present evidence of a questionable ticket? Or is it better to just fall on your sword?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    It sounds like you do not understand what a deferral is. Basically, you are found "guilty" -- so it doesn't matter what kind of case you present. The court then defers entering its findings, meaning the finding that you committed the offense, into the court record (and the DOL), for up to a year. If, during that time, you are not found guilty of committing another offense, this ticket is dismissed.

    So, you simply walk into court and request a deferral (I've seen judges say something like, "Everyone who wants a deferral line up over here"). You may request a deferral at a mitigation OR a contested hearing.

    Now here's the catch. Several counties in WA will NOT allow deferrals for school zone offenses -- probably because RCW 46.61.440 says "This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended." King and Clark are two that I know of. I do not know about about Pierce. So, even if the Clerk tells you that you are eligible, don't be surprised if the judge does not allow it.

    I hope, for your sake, that Pierce County does allow deferrals for school zone violations. Otherwise, by requesting a mitigation hearing, you are ADMITTING guilt. Since the ticket fine cannot be reduced, a deferral is your ONLY hope.

    So, please come back and let us know if Pierce County DOES allow deferrals for school zone violations -- that knowledge will benefit others.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    Pierce county does provide the option of deferral for school zone tickets.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: School Zone Ticket Pierce County Washington, Ticket Discrepancy, 300 Feet

    That's good news! Thanks for the update.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

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