traffic ticket

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Retired Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Jim Warme is fighting a speeding ticket issued automatically by a camera in a school zone.

In his appeal of a Longview Municipal Court decision, Warme acknowledges a car registered to him and his wife was photographed last May driving 31 mph in a 20 mph zone.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

BURIEN, Wash. – In Washington, nearly 300,000 drivers currently have suspended licenses – not because they've driven drunk or committed a hit-and-run, but because they failed to pay their traffic tickets.

You're about to meet three of them. Like a lot of people in their situation, they continued to drive. And that has led to more tickets, more debt and even jail.

Associated Press

Maybe you didn't get the word that the law changed last June: Using your cellphone while driving -- unless you have a hands-free connection -- is a primary offense in Washington.

That means officers can pull you over and write you a $124 ticket, even if you're otherwise obeying the traffic laws. It used to be only a secondary offense, meaning police had to see you speeding, or making an illegal turn, for example, before ticketing you.

The Seattle Times has figured out that Seattle Police have issued about six times as many cellphone tickets since the law changed, compared to the previous year, and the Washington State Patrol has issued about five times more tickets. 

Automated traffic ticket cameras could soon show up in a new place. They’d be attached to school buses. Opponents of photo traffic enforcement are mounting a late effort to stop the idea in the sate Legislature.

Brenner Beck is a school bus driver in Gig Harbor. He says motorists go around his bus when the flashing stop sign paddle is out.