Should I Hire an Attorney for My Traffic Ticket?
It might seem illogical to hire an attorney for $500 to represent you to handle a ticket or citation that will cost you only several hundred dollars in fines. But let's consider the alternative. If you don't hire an attorney and simply pay the fine online or in court, you are pleading guilty to the offense. If it's a reportable offense, which includes most moving violations, the conviction will be reported to the Department of Driver Services to go on your driver's history. Because any contract for auto insurance involves consent to view your driver's history, the company will periodically check to see if you have any new convictions on your record. If the insurance company sees a new conviction for Speeding, Running a Red Light, or whatever offense to which you pleaded guilty, you will likely see a significant increase in your auto insurance premiums.
Its important to remember that a plea of Nolo Contendere, or No Contest, might avoid points on your license, but the conviction for a reportable offense will still be reported to DDS! So unless you already have a lot of points on your license and are facing a possible points suspension, a Nolo plea has no value in terms of your insurance rates. A Nolo plea in an accident cannot be used against you in a civil trial, but it's at the Judge's discretion as to whether to accept a Nolo plea. So even if you want to enter one, it's not guaranteed that the Judge will accept it.
At the end of the day, if you hire an attorney who is able to negotiate a plea to a non-reportable offense that won't go on your driver's history, the cost of the attorney will almost certainly be less than the long term costs of increased insurance rates. And if you actually want to contest the case and take it to trial, it's certainly better to have an attorney who knows criminal procedure and the rules of evidence.
Finally, an attorney might be worth the cost to limit or eliminate your appearance in court. If your attorney can appear in court on your behalf, that's time that you can spend working and making money or doing whatever else you choose to do. And even if you do have to appear, attorney's cases are almost always handled first. On a large traffic calendar, having an attorney could save you an hour or two of waiting in court to have your case resolved.