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Seattle Traffic Tickets: Pre-Hearing Conference or Not?

Posted Friday, May 4, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

The many changes and additions to the signage guiding our cars and bikes through the busy streets of Seattle have caused a rise in traffic citations for failing to obey or follow the signs. Examples include limiting the times to turn left or right and being aware of new bike lanes when making these turns. I have been contacted by many people cited by police for these various violations that are for the most part “moving” violations, meaning they will appear on your driving record if found committed. Many ask me about the “Pre-Hearing Conference” that Seattle Municipal Court automatically schedules when a person decides to challenge their ticket. But what is a “Pre-Hearing Conference” and can you keep your ticket off your record with it?

The answer is simply NO, you will not be able to protect your driving record by appearing at this conference for the simple reason of that’s not what the hearing is for. A “Pre-Hearing Conference” is a hearing automatically scheduled for everyone who wants to fight a ticket. However, the purpose of this hearing is to simply mitigate or request a lower fine rather than contest or fight the ticket. In order to keep a ticket off your record, you need your case set for a “Contested Hearing.” This is a formal hearing presided by a judge and conducted by a prosecuting attorney.

When a person retains me to fight a Seattle ticket for them, I immediately file my paperwork with the court that includes a “Waiver of Pre-Hearing Conference.” This requires the court to skip this unnecessary step and set the matter directly for a “Contested Hearing,” which is what is needed to keep this ticket off your record.If you are one of the many who have received a traffic ticket in Seattle or anywhere else in the area, contact my office at 206-729-3477 and let me explain how we can keep your record clean.

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