Displaying items by tag: Infraction

Have A Teen Driver in the House? A Quick Look at the Intermediate License

If you have a teen driver in the house, you are probably familiar with the Intermediate License. This license imposes certain conditions and restrictions on drivers between the ages of 16 and 18. You can find the full statute at RCW 46.20.075 but the some of the important restrictions include:

1) For the first 6 months of an Intermediate License, the driver can have NO passengers under 20 years old other than immediate family members. Sorry cousins!

2) Once the first 6 months have past, the driver has an additional 6 months in which no more than 3 passengers under 20 years old (other than immediate family members) can be in the vehicle. Carpooling is great for the environment but be careful if you’re in this restricted period!

3) For the first 12 months of an Intermediate License, the teen may not drive during the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you are driving with another licensed driver who is over the age of 25. There is an exception if you’re working on a farm during those hours (but let’s hope not). So, if your parents let you go see your favorite band in Seattle, make sure you don’t get stuck in traffic on the way home. Heavy concert traffic is not a defense to driving at 1:00 am so plan accordingly.

4) This one might surprise some people. A teen driver may not use a cell phone even with a hands-free device! There are a few exceptions but they pertain to reporting illegal activity or emergencies. Being late to your friends house is not an emergency.

Can I Bend The Rules Just A Little Bit? 

I look like I’m 20 years old so how can an officer catch me?

If you are an incredibly safe and conscientious driver, you might get away with having too many passengers in your vehicle (but we don’t recommend testing that theory). In RCW 46.20.075(6), the statute notes that the above restrictions may only be enforced as a secondary action. This means that the driver is violating some other rule of the road (speeding) and then the officer notices that there are 5 passengers in the vehicle. The officer may inquire whether the passengers are immediately related to you. The exception to the secondary citation, is the restriction regarding cell phone usage. Using your cell phone (even a hands-free device), is a primary offense and the officer may pull you over even if you are not committing any other traffic violation.

Practically speaking, don’t test the “I look older and I’m a safe driver” theory. If an officer finds it suspicious that there are 5 teenage passengers in your car, there is a good chance he or she will find some reason that you have violated a rule of the road. You may have signaled your intention to turn but not with adequate warning. We all make little mistakes on the road and it’s fairly easy to give cause for a stop. Since traffic accidents are the #1 cause of death for teens, safety concerns for the driver and teenage passengers are going to be paramount when an officer considers stopping a car full of teenagers. It might seem unfair or targeted but a teen driver should not test the restrictions.

So what’s the big deal if I happen to drive my 4 teenage friends home at 2:00am?

If you enjoy having driving privileges, it is a big deal. According to DOL, even one violation means that you will have to abide by the passenger and nighttime driving restrictions until you are 18 years old! You and your parents will receive a warning letter regarding your first offense. If you have a second violation, your license will be suspended for 6 months or until you are 18 years old. Your third violation will get your Intermediate License permanently suspended until you are 18 years old.

What about accidents that aren’t your fault?

Well, this is the only concerning part for us as a parents. Understandably, teens who cause accidents might need a little more “growing time” before being back on the road. However, a teen who was involved in an accident “where no one was cited or was found to have caused the accident” (RCW 46.20.075(8)(c)) is still considered in violation of the Intermediate License restrictions. Consequently, a teen driver involved in an accident should be extra vigilant in requesting an officer to investigate. Based on the simple reading of the statute, the teen driver has the burden to establish that he or she was NOT the cause of an accident. Even if the teen was not cited or found to be at fault, the accident can be a cause for a first warning or a full suspension of the teen’s license.

What if I get pulled over for speeding, nighttime restrictions, and talking on my cell phone? Does this lead to one warning or will I be suspended due to the three separate violations?

According to DOL, this is ONE violation. Hence, in the above scenario (assuming you’ve had no other other violations on other dates), you will only be issued a warning letter. The violations are date-based. However, there is a caveat to this bit of information. Occasionally, when a teen receives a speeding ticket as well as a violation of a restriction, such as driving between 1am and 5am, a ticket will be issued and simultaneously a “violation notice” for the nighttime driving will be sent to DOL. It is possible that DOL will fail to notice that the speeding and the restricted nighttime driving occurred on the same date. In that case, DOL might send a letter notifying the teen that their license will be restricted for 6 months. This can be remedied by immediately notifying DOL that the incidents occurred on the same date.

Penalties For Violations While On An Intermediate License

The penalties can come generally from one of three events. (1) The teen disobeys the restrictions that are conditions of the intermediate license (i.e. having young passengers in the car, or being out too late), (2) if the teen breaks one of the "rules of the road" (i.e. speeding or the like) and (3) if the teen is involved in a collision, even if it is not their fault. There is a "step up" in consequences for each progressive violation, as shown below:

• First Violation: The Washington State Department of Licensing will mail a written warning to the teen's house. 

• Second Violation: The Washington State Department of Licensing will send a letter indicating that the teen's license will be suspended for six months, or until the teen turns 18 (which ever comes sooner.) The teen's license becomes suspended. 

• Third Violation: The teen's license will be suspended until the teen turns 18. So, for example, if the teen has two violations within the first six months after obtaining their license at 16, they potentially can be suspended for a year and a half!


If Your Teen Has A Violation, Contact Us Right Away!

If your teen has been stopped and cited for anything, we can often assist by challenging the ticket in Court.  On many occasions we can beat the ticket or change it to something that will not be reported to DOL.  Call our Bremerton office at (360) 792-1000 or our Gig Harbor office at (253) 312-3838 or CLICK HERE to fill out our online contact form.  At Witt Law Group we know how important it is to keep those teen drivers driving themselves to their own soccer practices!  We do whatever we can to help keep kids licensed.  

The moral of the story, be a safe driver, don’t violate the Intermediate License restrictions, and don’t ignore any warning letters or notices from DOL!  But if things go sideways, give our office a call. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

Sign sign, everywhere a sign.

But why? Why does the City of Port Orchard or Kitsap County have the ability to put up these signs? Can they can regulate behavior such as skateboarding?
Unfortunately, it looks like the answer is yes. 

A City gets it regulatory authority from a governmental document called a City Code. Codes and ordinances exist to protect citizen’s rights, neighborhood esthetics, property values, and to enhance public safety. City codes contain specific sections which are basically the laws of a city. The laws are enforced by City Code Officers, or the City’s Police Officers.

In 1997, the City of Port Orchard enacted POMC 11.04.080 which regulates the use of skateboards. It reads as follows: 

11.04.080 Skateboards - Restrictions

(1) It shall be a civil infraction for any person to use a skateboard in violation of the provisions of this section.

(a) No person shall ride a skateboard on the public streets, sidewalks, alleys, walkways, docks, buildings or parks within the central business district defined as the area bound by Port Orchard Boulevard on the west side and Maple Street on the east side and the south side of Bay Street to the waterfront. Also Cline Street to Division Street, Sidney Avenue to Division Street and Port Orchard Boulevard to Tremont Street.

(b) Whenever any person is riding a skateboard upon a sidewalk of the city which is not in an area prohibited by subsection (1)(a) of this section, such person shall at all times exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian and shall operate the same in a careful and prudent manner at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the width and condition of the surface. When riding a skateboard would endanger or unreasonably inconvenience pedestrians or vehicular traffic, such person shall stop and carry the skateboard.

(c) Whenever any person is riding a skateboard upon a sidewalk of the city, such person shall yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians and shall maintain foot control with the pavement within 10 feet of any pedestrian.

(d) No person shall leave a skateboard upon a sidewalk or street in such a manner as to obstruct pedestrian traffic or vehicular traffic emerging from alleys or driveways.

(2) Violations – Penalty. Upon determination that a violation under this section has been committed, such violations shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $50.00. (Ord. 1682 §§ 1, 2, 1997).

The City Says No

The City has made it unlawful for individuals to ride a skateboard almost anywhere within the City limits – certainly within the core of the city. As there is not a tremendous amount of recreation for kids in that area, that is unfortunate. Even more so if you or your child end up getting cited for the infraction. Port Orchard Boulevard does look enticing to board down, but unfortunately, it is off limits.
At Witt Law Group, we represent individuals with all types of infractions, including skateboarding. We also handle criminal defense and personal injury cases in Kitsap and Pierce Counties. You can contact us at either our Bremerton or Gig Harbor office.

Just remember, “skateboarding is not a crime – it is a civil infraction.”

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
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In Washington State you MAY temporarily exceed the posted speed limit if the vehicle in front of you is impeding the normal and reasonable flow of traffic (going too damn slow).
RCW 46.61.425 states:

(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic [and] a person following a vehicle driving at less than the legal maximum speed and desiring to pass such vehicle may exceed the speed limit…at only such a speed and for only such a distance as is necessary to complete the pass with a reasonable margin of safety.

This defense is not a myth.

Most people have heard this statement and believe that it is a myth. This is a legitimate defense to a speeding ticket that is rarely used in traffic court. This only applies on a two lane road, one in each direction. Often police will cite a driver and they don’t care when the driver explains that he was just completing a pass. The Officer will just typically tell he driver to take it up with the Judge. It is a hassle, but you need to contest these infractions in Court.
At Witt Law Group, our attorneys have been handling infractions and speeding tickets in Kitsap, Pierce and Jefferson Counties for 14 years. We have Offices in Bremerton and Gig Harbor for your convenience. We can be reached afterhours or on the weekends, and we always offer free consultations. Click HERE to fill out our online contact form. We handle traffic defense, criminal defense and personal injury cases. Ryan Witt has handled thousands of infractions over his career and would be glad to assist you with your case. Good luck with your infraction!

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
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Drivers beware!  You may be violating the rules of the road. 

Washington has a new Distracted Driving Statute (SSB 5289). Most articles and posts have been inaccurate in their analysis of the Statute. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
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