Frequently Asked Questions -Traffic & Citations
What do you do when you are pulled over by a Deputy, received or have questions on a citation or received an equipment violation. Also learn about the myth about traffic ticket quotas.
F.A.Q. - Traffic & Citation Questions & Answers
- Q. What should I do if I am pulled over by a Deputy?
- A. Deputies may pull a vehicle over for many reasons. You may have committed a traffic offense, there may be an equipment problem with your vehicle or perhaps your vehicle matches the description of a vehicle they are looking for. Regardless, if the Deputy indicates that he wants you to pull your vehicle over, that is exactly what you should do. Don’t stop suddenly. Carefully move your vehicle to the right side of the road and slowly come to a complete stop. Once stopped, put your vehicle in park. Leave your hands on the steering wheel where the Deputy can see them. Don’t make sudden moves that would make the Deputy suspicious. Don’t reach for wallets, purses, packages or glove compartments until the Deputy tells you it’s alright to do so. Remain seated in your vehicle unless the Deputy instructs you to step outside. Follow any instructions the Deputy gives you. It may be hard, but stay calm and try to be polite. Ask the Deputy to explain why you were pulled over and converse in a normal tone. Being confrontational or arguing will seldom result in a positive experience for you or the Deputy. Finally, never pull away from a traffic stop until the Deputy has safely returned to his squad.
- Q. I received a traffic citation from a Deputy. What should I do next?
- A. If you received a citation, the Deputy will hand you a pamphlet that explains what you should do if you want to pay a citation or contest it in court. You must take some action before the court date listed on the citation, or you risk that the court may find you guilty by default and order that you pay the fine. A Deputy cannot give you legal advice on what to do with a citation, so you may need to contact an attorney for additional information.
- For more information on your options, please go to the Washington County Clerk of Courts website.
- Q. I have a question about my citation. Who should I contact?
- A. Always check the citation before calling and follow the instructions in the citation pamphlet you received. The citation will indicate if it was issued by a Deputy from the Sheriff’s Office and will list information regarding the offense and the court date. If you have a question about the citation itself or the offense involved, you can first contact the Sheriff’s Office. Ask to speak to the Deputy that issued you the citation or ask to speak to a supervisor. If you have a question about the court date or how to pay a fine, you may contact the Washington County Clerk of Courts at 262-335-4341. If you believe that a Deputy did not treat you in a professional manner, contact the Sheriff’s Department and ask to speak to a supervisor.
- Q. Do you have ticket quotas?
- A. No. Ticket quotas are illegal in Wisconsin. We expect that each Deputy commit time to traffic enforcement as it is an important part of their job, but there is no set number that each Deputy must meet. The same holds true for written warnings and Equipment Violation Notices, both of which are issued by deputies on a daily basis.
- Q. I received a written warning for a traffic offense. Does that go on my driving record?
- A. Written warnings do not go on your driving record. A written warning does not affect anything on your driver’s license and does not get reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. We do maintain an in-house record of the warning, so if you were to be stopped again for the same offense a Deputy can check on that.
- Q. I received an Equipment Violation Notice. What do I do next?
- A. An Equipment Violation Notice is a form ordering you to correct a specific problem or set of problems. It can be for an equipment problem on your vehicle, a registration issue or even your driver’s license status. This form is commonly called a 5-Day or 15-Day notice based on the amount of time a Deputy gives you to correct the problem(s). First you need to correct the problems listed. Then take the form to any police or Sheriff’s Department in your area. Have an officer there check to see that the problem has been taken care of. Have the officer sign the back of the form. Place a stamp on the form and then mail the form back to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. If you do not return the form to us signed by an officer, you will likely receive a warning letter followed by a citation. Only the citation would be eventually reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles and become part of your driving record.
- Q. I need extra time to fix the problem listed on the Equipment Violation Notice. What can I do?
- A. Call the Sheriff’s Office and ask to speak to the Deputy that issued you the notice. The Deputy may grant you an extension to correct the problem. You may also ask for the Court Officer for assistance.
- Q. Where can I find information on Wisconsin’s child restraint and booster seat laws?
- A. The Wisconsin DOT has a current fact sheet explaining the child safety restraint laws: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/vehicle/child/docs/booster-seat-law-facts.pdf
- Q. My car broke down along the highway. Can I leave it parked there?
- A. Maybe. It depends on whether or not your vehicle poses a hazard to other motorists. It must be parked off of the paved portion of the highway, facing the correct direction and allow adequate room for other vehicles to see it and pass it safely. If your vehicle is disabled and you cannot remove it immediately, contact the Sheriff’s Offfice and a Deputy will check to see if it can remain on the highway. If a Deputy comes across your vehicle and it’s a hazard, your vehicle may be towed immediately.
- Q. I found an orange sticker on my disabled vehicle. Why?
- A. Deputies will place an orange sticker on a vehicle when it is disabled or otherwise left along a highway. The sticker alerts the owner or driver of the vehicle that they have a certain time period during which they must remove the vehicle, usually 24 hours. If the vehicle is not moved within that time period, it may be towed as a hazard or for safekeeping. The sticker also alerts other deputies that the vehicle has already been checked.
- My car was towed and I think I was overcharged. What can I do?
- A. The Sheriff’s Department does not contract with any one wrecker service. If a vehicle needs to be towed and the motorist has a preferred wrecker, we try to accommodate that preference. If there is no preference, we call a wrecker service from the local area. The Sheriff’s Department has no control over what wrecker services charge. If you feel you were overcharged, you need to file a complaint with the wrecker service, your insurance carrier or the group the service represents such as AAA.
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