Infractions and Deferred Findings
A traffic infraction is a civil (non criminal) offense that cannot include a jail sentence. Primarily, there are two types of hearings you may request with regard to an infraction: a contested or mitigation hearing.
A contested hearing means you wish to contest (or challenge) the infraction. The judge determines by a preponderence of the evidence if there will be a "committed" or "not committed" finding to the offense. If there is a committed finding by the judge, the offense is reported to Department of Licensing. A not committed finding or dismissal is not reported.
A mitigation hearing is a hearing to explain circumstances and is uncontested. This type of hearing is generally requested when a person wishes to ask for a reduction in the penalty, often times based on circumstances. A committed disposition from a mitigation hearing is reported to Department of Licensing.
Under certain criteria the law allows for a deferred finding. A deferral of a traffic infraction is only allowed once every seven (7) years. The length of a deferral is generally one year. The below are some example conditions typical with a deferral:
1) Pay the administrative costs in full by your due date;
2) Do not receive any further traffic violations during your deferral period;
3) And, in some cases, completion of a defensive driving school may be required.
If you believe you may be eligible for a deferred finding, you can make this request at your hearing. The judge will make a determination as to your eligibility. If after the completion of your deferral term all conditions are met, the violation is dismissed.
If the conditions of a deferral are not met, the finding is reported to Department of Licensing as "committed" and appears on your driving record. And, in addition to any costs of the deferral, you will also be required to pay the original amount of the penalty on your ticket.
Failure to appear at a hearing can result in addtional penalties, referral of your infraction to a collection agency, and suspension of your driving priviledges.