Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

An Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer's Perspective on a Nolo Plea
Nolo Plea

Should I Plead “Nolo” to my Traffic Citation?

Each and every time I am in Traffic Court or Municipal Court, the courtroom is packed people cited with traffic offenses who are not represented by a criminal defense lawyer that is familiar with traffic violations. I cringe as almost every single person pleads “Nolo” to their traffic citation. Many times, pleading Nolo is not in their best interest. The Judge knows it. The prosecutor knows it. But, they are not allowed to give legal advice. So, everyday countless people inappropriately use a Nolo Plea.

What is a Nolo Contendere Plea?

Nolo Contendere or No Contest is plea where you do not admit guilt. However, you are also not contesting the allegations against you. You may plead No Contest once every five years and it is within the Judge’s discretion as to whether to accept a No Contest plea in your case. So, it is important to ensure that using your Nolo plea has a tangible benefit for your traffic citation.

How do I know if I should use Nolo?

This is a question that is very fact specific. You should not rely on this without also consulting a criminal defense attorney that handles traffic citations. But, in a general setting the following factors should be considered when determining if you should plead Nolo to a traffic offense:

First, are you about to lose your license due to an accumulation of points?  Second, were you cited as being a responsible party in a collision?  Third, will pleading guilty to this traffic offense suspend my Georgia Driver’s license?

If the answer these questions is “No”, then you likely should not plead No Contest to your traffic charge.

Benefits to Pleading Nolo in Traffic Citations:

There are three main benefits to a No Contest plea on a traffic offense: (i) It does not assess points against your Georgia Driver’s License, (ii) it is not an admission of liability that can (and will) be used against you in the event that you are sued due to your involvement in a traffic accident and (iii) in some situations, pleading Nolo will save your license from suspension.

I don’t want any points on my driver’s license, so I should plead Nolo, right?

This is where people most frequently misuse use a Nolo Plea. In theory, you do not get points on your license if you plead no contest to a traffic offense. However, your goal isn’t to avoid the points. You want to ensure that your insurance rate is not increased due to your citation. Under this situation, Nolo is NOT what you want to do. Why? Because a citation for a moving violation will still reflect on your Georgia Driving History despite your No Contest plea. Your insurance provider will still be able to see that you received this citation and will potentially raise your insurance rates even though you plead No Contest and received zero points.

How should I handle my traffic citation?

I highly recommend that you hire a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with handling traffic citations. You should save your Nolo plea for a situation that actually benefits you. A criminal defense lawyer who handles traffic citations will be able to determine if a No Contest plea will save your license or provide you a different benefit. Alternatively, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a reduced traffic charge that will not report to your driving history or your insurance.

I would be honored to discuss your traffic citation with you and explain how I would be able to assist in your case.   Call me directly at 678-988-1199.







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