Jun 30

Jon Zimmerman

Traffic Tickets and Tolls: Independence Day in Seattle

by Jon Zimmerman

Traffic Tickets and Tolls: Independence Day in Seattle

Around this time every year, visitors to Seattle often tell me how much they love the area, the (infrequent) "summer" weather, and the beauty that makes the Great Northwest so adored by its residents.   Those who travel to the Northwest on vacation might be inspired by a visit to Olympic National Park while others might spend time in urban areas in Tacoma or Seattle. But these same visitors never tell me that they love the awful traffic or the traffic jams that we pay for in the way of tolls on the 520 Bridge and, soon, that we will pay on State Route 99. While most drivers crossing 520 between Seattle and the eastside suburbs or Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula are charged a hefty toll, set to increase on July 1, 2012, sometimes visitors and residents alike are given an unwelcome gift: a traffic ticket that affects a person's insurance, driving privilege, and sometimes their livelihood. 

As we approach the Independence Day holiday, motorists in Washington State will be targeted for everything from an I-5 speeding ticket to driving under the influence (DUI). Although state troopers and police officers might not observe intoxicated drivers at the outset, law enforcement will be looking for any infraction of the motor vehicle laws in order to pull someone over: an improper lane change, following too closely, holding a cell phone to one's ear while driving, not wearing a seat belt, expired license tabs, or even a damaged windshield or burned-out taillight or headlight. Drivers would do well to inspect the lights and license tabs on their vehicles before BBQs and parties on the Fourth of July. Such inspection might avoid sirens, red and blue lights, and citations that affect insurance premiums and the driving privilege. 

Another area in which people should be especially careful is the water. If you are a boat operator, or you will be spending time on watercraft on Lake Union, Lake Washington, or Elliott Bay near or during the Independence Day holiday, teams of police will be on patrol this weekend and through the Fourth. While the Seattle Police Department's Harbor Patrol will stop operators for boating under the influence (BUI) or what are deemed other safety violations, many other law enforcement agencies will also be on the water. Such agencies include the King County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Coast Guard. Depending on where someone is stopped and by whom could also mean the difference between state and federal prosecution. Boat operators need to be especially careful to control speed and alcoholic consumption as law enforcement will be looking to bust anyone suspected of such violations involving watercraft. 


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