Our court has questions about the effects of the Model Traffic Ordinance (MTO) not being updated by the Department of Licensing (DOL).  Does AOC have any information that can help answer our questions?


AOC has received a number of questions from the courts regarding the Model Traffic Ordinance (MTO) not being updated by the Department of Licensing (DOL) and how that impacts the courts of limited jurisdiction.  The answers to many of those questions are listed below.  This answer may be updated periodically, as additional questions and answers are received and as additional information is provided by DOL.


1. Which courts does this issue potentially affect?

  • Courts potentially affected include those serving any municipality that adopted the Model Traffic Ordinance (MTO), and does not have an additional local ordinance that overrides the laws that were not added to the MTO by DOL between 2004 and 2010.  This can also impact district courts that hear cases originating in traffic violation bureaus, or any court that contracts with other cities, if those contract cities have adopted the MTO.  

2. How would a court know if it is affected or not?

  • It is recommended that your court contact the local city attorney and have them review the wording in the local municipal code to determine if your court is affected.  The city attorney should also review the laws in question to see if your local jurisdiction has an overriding local ordinance that officers would have cited instead of the affected RCWs.

3. Are all courts reimbursing the fines?

  • Each individual jurisdiction must determine if the omission of listed offenses (See question 7) from the MTO affected the validity of citations filed in the court.  This includes those courts that contract with other cities or with the district court.
  • The local judicial officer and/or legal counsel will need to determine if the court is legally obligated to take action on any open or previously committed charges based on the listed violations.
  • The local judicial officer and/or legal counsel will also need to determine if the court is legally obligated to refund any monies paid on those violations. 

4. How far back do these laws go?

  • According to DOL, the MTO was last updated in 2004. All other laws came into effect between 2004 and 2010.  

5. Will DOL be reimbursing the courts for cases back through 2005?

  • If the local court determines that it has a legal obligation to refund the money paid to the court on one of the affected violations, and submits the required documentation of that case to DOL, then DOL will send the refund directly to the defendant.
  • If the local court has already provided refunds to the defendants, the court can submit the required documentation to DOL, and DOL will send the court a reimbursement.
  • DOL will ONLY refund/reimburse fine amounts paid by the defendant for cases dated between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2010 on the cell phone related offenses (RCW 46.61.667 and RCW 46.61.668) or between July 1, 2007 and July 19, 2010 on the other affected citable offenses.
  • Note:  Not all of the affected citable offenses have been in place since 2005. 

6. What are the offenses affected by the failure to update the MTO?

  • RCW 46.09.050: Off Road Vehicle (ORV) - Vehicles exempted from ORV use permits and tags.
  • RCW 46.09.115: ORV - Authorized and prohibited uses.
  • RCW 46.09.117: ORV - Operation by persons under thirteen.
  • RCW 46.37.395: Equipment - Compression brakes (Jake brakes).
  • RCW 46.37.670: Equipment - Signal preemption devices - Prohibited -Exceptions.
  • RCW 46.37.671: Equipment - Signal preemption device - Possession.
  • RCW 46.37.672: Equipment - Signal preemption device - Use, sale, purchase
  • RCW 46.37.673: Equipment - Signal preemption device - Accident -Property damage or less than substantial bodily harm.
  • RCW46.37.674: Equipment - Signal preemption device - Accident -Substantial bodily harm.
  • RCW 46.37.675: Equipment - Signal preemption device - Accident -Death.
  • RCW 46.37.680: Equipment - Sound system attachment.
  • RCW 46.44.013: Appurtenances on recreational vehicles.
  • RCW 46.61.212: Approaching stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and police vehicles.
  • RCW 46.61.667: Using a wireless communications device while driving.*
  • RCW 46.61.668: Sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving.*
  • RCW 46.61.723: Medium - speed electric vehicles.
  • RCW 46.61.735: Ferry queues - Violations - Exemptions. 

* Of the 17 total laws that were not previously added to the MTO, only the two cell phone related laws were added in the MTO by an emergency rule change that took effect July 1, 2010 (WSR 10-14-081).  All other violations were added through an emergency rule change that took effect July 19, 2010 (WSR 10-15-083).

7. How will the court know if it processed any violations under the affected laws?

  • AOC has created two BOXI queries that have been published to the CLJ Statewide Reports folder.
  • See eService Locate and run the MTO queries in BOXI for instructions on running the queries for your court. 

8. If DOL is doing the reimbursing, why can't the defendants simply contact DOL directly? Can't the city/county financial department handle this?

  • DOL does not have court records on many of these charges, and cannot confirm the amount paid by the defendant that is to be refunded. The confirmation of the case's existence and the amount originally paid that is subject to refund/reimbursement must be recorded at DOL for audit purposes. That information must be confirmed by the courts during the refund request or reimbursement request process.
  • For auditing purposes the courts that have already refunded payment to the defendants will also need to document that the reimbursements were received, so all activity must be handled by the court rather than the local jurisdiction's financial department. 

9. What paperwork must the court complete or provide for DOL in order to receive the reimbursements?

  • AOC and DOL have worked out a refund/reimbursement process that will impact the courts as little as possible.
  • See eService MTO refund recommendations for CLJs for detailed instructions.
  • Failure to follow the recommended process may prevent the refunds from being processed or prevent the court from receiving its reimbursement. 

10. What amount will DOL refund to the defendant or reimburse to the courts?

  • DOL will only refund/reimburse the PENALTY ("FINE") amount originally paid by the defendant on the charge in question.
  • Amounts paid on other charges on the same case will not be reimbursed.
  • DOL will not send additional reimbursements to the courts for the "fiscal impact" on the court for the staff time used to correct this issue.  
  • DOL will reimburse the full amount paid by the defendant, not only the portion that was sent to the state.
  • NOTE:  Administrative costs, FTA fees, and Collection fees will NOT be refunded/reimbursed by DOL.

11. How long will it take for the courts to receive their reimbursements from DOL?

  • Although DOL originally estimated a three-day turnaround on reimbursements, actual response time now will depend on the volume of templates submitted and transactions needed to issue the checks for both refunds and reimbursements.
  • Please tell those defendants expecting refunds that it may take four to six weeks to receive their refund check from DOL.  

12. What happens if the reimbursements are more than the court's remittance for the week or month?

  • This can be an issue as negative remittance amounts can prevent the remittance or other end of month reports from processing until a minimum amount of $.01 is in the remittance again.  
  • Before processing reversals, consider how much remittance the court normally has on a weekly or monthly basis.  It may be best to do the reversals in smaller batches at your court.  Or, do them at the beginning half of the month, ensuring enough time for the DOL reimbursement to be received and receipted, prior to the next remittance process.

13. How quickly do these refunds/reimbursements need to be completed?

  • There is no date by which the refunds/reimbursements must be completed.  However, keep in mind that some cases that were paid and archived a few years ago may be ready for destruction now or soon.
  • To prevent the records from being removed from JIS, AOC temporarily suspended the Destruction of Records job.  
    NOTE:  The Destruction of Records job has been restarted, with the first official run date of February 5, 2011.
  • Courts that are requiring defendants to request refunds prior to processing the refund request to DOL should still run and prepare the report now.  Keep a copy of the report and supporting documentation for each case, as some cases will be purged from JIS when the destruction of records job begins again.
  • Courts must be able to certify that they have the supporting documentation to verify the case exists and the fine amount that was paid in order to submit any refund or reimbursement request to DOL.

14. What is the exact process the court must follow to get the reimbursement from DOL and who can be contacted for questions?

  • See eService MTO refund recommendations for CLJs for the specific instructions and required documentation to be submitted to DOL electronically.
  • Courts that are unable to submit the required documentation electronically should contact DOL to request an alternate filing option.
  • Contact information:
  • DOL Accounting questions, contact Cindy Cavanaugh at ccavanagh@dol.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 664-1474.
  • DOL Operational questions, contact Clark Holloway at cholloway@dol.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 902-3846. 

15. What is the IRS form W9 and why does DOL need it?

  • Form W-9 is the "Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification" form that DOL must keep on any company or agency to which they have issued checks.
  • It is a form required under the Federal IRS requirements and a PDF® can be located using the following link: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
  • Each court that is requesting reimbursement from DOL must submit one copy of the W-9 and one copy of the documentation showing citations were issued due to reliance on MTO.
  • A copy of the portion of the local ordinance adopting the MTO is sufficient.  DOL does not need a copy of the entire ordinance.
  • The court must also submit one attestation from the court per reimbursement request submission.  The attestation must include:
  • Certification that all refunds issued on the cases on the reimbursement request template are valid and correct.
  • Certification from the court that all refunds listed were sent to the defendants on the cases listed.
  • Include as part of the refund certification the check numbers or check batch numbers and issue dates.
     Example:  "The court certifies that all refunds listed were sent to the defendants on the cases listed (Checks 1234-1244 issued August 9, 2010 and checks 1249-1261 issued August 10, 2010)."  
  • Certification that the court has supporting documentation for each citation listed on the completed reimbursement request template.  
  • AOC created standard attestation forms for the courts to use with their reimbursement requests to DOL.  They are available for download at the bottom of this eService answer.  Use the form titled "Reimbursement Request Attestation" if submitting a request for DOL to reimburse the court.
  • Courts submitting multiple reimbursement requests must file one attestation per template submission. 

16. If the court submits the refund request for DOL instead of a reimbursement request, does the other paperwork still need to be submitted?

  • Courts not requesting reimbursement do NOT need to submit the IRS Form W9.
  • Courts DO need to submit one copy of the portion of the local ordinance adopting the MTO.  DOL does not need a copy of the entire ordinance.
  • Refund requests must also include one attestation per refund request template submission.  The attestation must include:
  • Certification that all refunds listed on the submission form are valid and correct.
  • Certification that the court has the supporting documentation for each citation listed on the refund request template being submitted. 
  • AOC created standard attestation forms for the courts to use with their refund requests to DOL.  They are available for download at the bottom of this eService answer.  Use the form titled "Refund Request Attestation" if submitting a request for DOL to refund the amounts paid to the defendants. 

File Attachments: Reimbursement Request Attestation.pdf (46.59 KB), Refund Request Attestation.pdf (36.58 KB) 


Published 07/21/2010 08:59 AM   |    Updated 01/28/2016 04:42 PM