Couple of weeks ago I was pulled over by Highway Patrol trooper in Bellevue, WA. He gave me citation for expired expired license plates (they expired in August, and I've got citation in December). It was my fault, I completely forgot about it. Somehow I thought that I need to renew them in December, and I didn't setup any reminders + I haven't received any mail from local DOL office with reminder (I used to receive it before). I renewed my tabs on the very same day. Will I be able to ask for forgiveness in my case? How do I do that? What do I tell in court? (It just my third year in USA and first experience with police and courts).

  • It isn't really fighting it if you admit to it. Best of luck in convincing the judge to let you off.
    – Terry
    Dec 31, 2015 at 8:01
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    Did you mean to ask about expired tags?
    – phoog
    Dec 31, 2015 at 13:59
  • I meant "tabs": expired license plates
    – vmg
    Jan 1, 2016 at 0:27
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    @VitaliyGanzha I have never heard anyone refer to a license plate as a "tab." On the other hand, I have frequently heard them called "tags."
    – phoog
    Jan 1, 2016 at 17:50
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    The fact that you didn't receive the usual reminder via mail help your case. You may want to ask if that reminder was sent and to which address. If it wasn't sent to you, even though It's not really an excuse, it could help if the judge knows this.
    – TTT
    Jan 3, 2016 at 5:51

3 Answers 3


There's no fighting a fine where the facts are not in dispute; only asking for clemency. Bring in evidence that you acted in good faith and corrected the infraction as soon as you were alerted to it. If you can determine why you didn't get a renewal application (e.g., did the state have an old address?) that might also justify the oversight.

When I was cited for driving a friend's car that (unbeknownst to me) had expired registration the cop actually said if I renewed it promptly and brought evidence of that to court she wouldn't press the charge. Fifteen minutes later I was in front of a computer printing out a receipt. When I showed up to court a few weeks later and the judge saw the time difference between the citation and the renewal he joked to the cop, "He renewed it fifteen minutes later? What did you do to him?" Obviously they're used to dealing with far less attentive citizens.


It sounds like you want to have a mitigation hearing. Check number 2 on the ticket and send it in. On the hearing day ask for leniency which is probably going to be a reduced fine. From what you've told us there are no circumstances in your favor, but it can't hurt to try.

Here is some information: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/district-court/citations-or-tickets.aspx


It sounds like it might be to late, however read carefully your citation. You have the right to ask for discovery in your case. I would request discovery if it is not too late, sometimes if you ask for a continuance due to other factors this could allow for you to still send a letter of demand for discovery. You would be checking the box to dispute the ticket not mitigate. When and if it arrives you then need to read the law very carefully and try to find an RCW or cite some case law that would excuse you for not having renewed your tabs and then why you continued to drive.

If discovery is not received I believe it is 7 days prior to you trial date, you can move for the case to be dismissed. (hope for this one)

I personally would not try ignorance of the time limit to purchase tabs, or that you were not aware they were expired.

I was able to avoid a parking ticket by explaining to the judge that under the county code rule, I had to be in control of the vehicle when it was parked and therefore also aware of the parking rule as it was posted.

I did not park it there, the police pulled my son over and then took the keys and told me to come to the main station the next day to retrieve my keys. When I arrived the keys were accidently entered into evidence and could not be released until later that afternoon. I then went to my car and called AAA and had them make me a key and I also placed a few quarters in the meter until they arrived. So as soon as I was in control of my car again I paid the meter, prior to that instance, I was not in control of the vehicle. Law followed and case dismissed.

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