Legal Question in Traffic Law in Washington

I live in Washington State. I was driving in work traffic going the speed limit and following the cars in front of me which made it difficult to see anything prior to coming up on it. This made it so that when we came across a bus to the right of us I didn't see their stop sign out until it was already to late to stop (My car has been having braking issues and has been in and out of the shop so I couldn't have stopped at that point even if I wanted to.) Three cars in front of me had gone straight through so I hadn't realized the sign was out. So I come up to the next intersection and stop at the light and a truck pulls up behind me and this guy jumps out of his car and starts screaming at me and how he's calling the police and I'm an idiot. He clearly was taking down my license number and I just didn't want him to hurt me so I didn't say anything. My question after all this is whether in Washington state another driver can get you on a traffic infraction without an officer present. I know that there is a specific law stating that the driver of the bus can...but I can't seem to find anything about a third party.

Asked on 6/03/16, 6:00 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Stan Glisson Glisson & Morris

No, you don't need to worry, unless there is a crash an officer can't write you a ticket unless they observe the incident personally (RCW 46.63.030).

Once in a great while, an officer will write a ticket for an infraction that he or she didn't see, but they don't hold up in court.

I would make sure that DOL has your current mailing address, because if for some reason they were to write you a ticket, that is where they would likely mail it.

RCW 46.63.030

Notice of traffic infraction—Issuance—Abandoned vehicles.

(1) A law enforcement officer has the authority to issue a notice of traffic infraction:

(a) When the infraction is committed in the officer's presence, except as provided in RCW 46.09.485;

(b) When the officer is acting upon the request of a law enforcement officer in whose presence the traffic infraction was committed;

(c) If an officer investigating at the scene of a motor vehicle accident has reasonable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle involved in the accident has committed a traffic infraction;

(d) When the infraction is detected through the use of an automated traffic safety camera under RCW 46.63.170; or

(e) When the infraction is detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180.

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Answered on 6/05/16, 9:05 am

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