A traffic infraction is a civil (non criminal) offense that cannot be punished by a jail sentence. Primarily, there are 2 types of hearings you may request with regard to an infraction: a contested or mitigation hearing.
A contested hearing means you wish to contest (or challenge) the infraction. The judge determines by a preponderence of the evidence if there will be a "committed" or "not committed" finding to the offense. If there is a committed finding by the judge, the offense is reported to Department of Licensing. A not committed finding or dismissal is not reported.
A mitigation hearing is a hearing to explain circumstances and is uncontested. This type of hearing is generally requested when a person wishes to ask for a reduction in the penalty, often times based on circumstances. A committed disposition from a mitigation hearing is reported to Department of Licensing.
Under certain conditions the law allows for a deferred finding. A deferral of a traffic infraction is only allowed once every 7 years. The length of a deferral is generally one year during which time the following conditions must be met:
Pay the administrative costs in full ($150) of the deferral.
Receive no further traffic violations during your deferral period.
In some cases the judge may require completion of a defensive driving school.
If you believe you may be eligible for a deferred finding, you can make this request at your hearing. The judge will make a determination as to your eligibility. If after 1 year all conditions of the deferral are met the violation is dismissed.
By law, you must submit a request for hearing within 15 days of issuance of the infraction. Failure to appear at your hearing can result in additional penalties, referral of your infraction to a collection agency, and suspension of your driving privileges.