There is a fundamental difference between various tickets: (i) tickets that affect your auto insurance rate (e.g., moving violation that become part of the driver's record per RCWand ) and (ii) tickets that do not have a direct effect on the insurance rate.
Thus, while we strive to dismiss the ticket, our focus is to prevent the increase of auto insurance rates.
Once the judge rules that the ticket was "committed", that finding of "committed" is reported to the Department of Licensing (DOL) and your insurance company will obtain the data there. Technically, an insurance company can look up your driving record in the JIS but it this does not appear to be the usual practice of most insurance companies. However, non-moving violations (e.g., camera tickets and cell phone tickets) do not get reported to the DOL thus (as opposed to speeding tickets), such camera and cell phone tickets are treated very much like large parking tickets. Of course, when you get pulled over by an officer, he/she is able to review the full driving record (including tickets charged, amended and dismissed) and he/she can see that, for example, your speeding ticket was amended to a cell phone ticket. Obviously, prosecutors and judges can see the same thing in their system.
Most importantly, the standard of proof for traffic matters is a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., the judge has to believe prosecution 0.00000001% more than you). Thus, we have extremely rarely seen the situation where the judge believed a defendant's statement more than what is stated in the police report. Thus, it is crucial to see "discovery" (which includes the police report and related documents that city/state must provide upon request).
In general, this is our approach to tickets:
A judge has the discretion to defer (postpone) the reporting of a traffic violation to the Department of Licensing (DOL) if certain conditions are met. The judge may (but is not required to) defer the ticket for up to twelve (12) months on conditions deemed appropriate. However, the deferral may only be available once per 7 years, conditions of the deferral may include no traffic infractions or criminal traffic violations for twelve (12) months from the date the court enters the deferred finding, court costs of $150 (but in come courts, $125 or $200) for monitoring the person’s driving record may be imposed and if one fails to comply with conditions, the deferral is revoked. In some cases, you would be required to pay the original fine that appears on the ticket and the original violation will be reported to the DOL.
Below are the most common types of tickets: Speeding, Carpool - HOV, Equipment Violations, Failing to Stop at a Stop Sign, Failure to Yield, Failure to Signal, Illegal U-turn, Negligent Driving in the 2nd Degree, No Insurance, No Operating License on Person, Red Light (now often done via camera tickets).
If you do not go the hearing or do not respond to your ticket, you can get Failure To Appear (FTA). FTA will eventually lead to the notice of the license suspension. If you received one, we may be able to help you by filing a Motion to Show Cause to explain to the court why you have not responded to the ticket or failed to show up at your hearing. In such cases, we normally recommend that you pay the fine asap and fight the Motion to Show Cause in court. Once we win the Motion to Show Cause, we get a "shot" at dismissing your ticket (as if FTA never happened). If we win, you will get the money back from the court.
While your insurance company might find out about the accident via you or third party, we suggest that you still fight the ticket even if you may be liable in whole or in part for the accident. In theory, you want to avoid the "double hit" of your driving record (one hit from the accident and one hit from the ticket). Remember that defending traffic tickets is more often than not a technical legal issue, thus it is possible to dismiss your ticket for driving too fast for the conditions but still be liable in part or in whole for the car accident.
Do not confuse a notice to suspend the license sent by the DOL and the actual suspension by the DOL. As per above, if you have an FTA, you will get a letter telling you that your driver's license may be suspended. Now, if your license already has been suspended, you need to go through a formal process to get it back.