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6/5/2006
Washington: Judges Make it Harder to Contest Tickets
Washington state changes judicial rules to make it more difficult for motorists to be found not guilty in traffic ticket cases.

Judge David A. Steiner
Police in Washington state have issued a steadily increasing number of traffic tickets -- jumping sixteen percent in the last decade from 1,185,357 in 1996 to 1,417,080 in 2005. As a result, motorists are fighting back in even greater numbers. Over the same period, the number of tickets dismissed in traffic court jumped from 140,607 to 246,832. Now the courts have taken steps to reduce the number of successful defenses available to motorists.

Over the past two years, the District and Municipal Court Judges' Association and state supreme court have adopted about a dozen procedural rule changes to tip the balance back in favor of a guilty verdict. These changes, for example, reduce the requirement for a speedy trial and offer police more time to report citations and delay trials.

"We went rule by rule to determine whether justice was being served and, in many cases, we found that it wasn't," King County Judge David Steiner told the Seattle Times. Steiner chaired the committee responsible for the changes.

Source: Drivers fighting tickets and winning (Seattle Times, 6/1/2006)



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