Ask fora PD on your first court date which will be an arraignment. The PD will enter a not guilty plea for you and a schedule of hearings will be set up. Never plead guilty at the first hearing. Wait and see what the state's evidence is before deciding what you want to do in consultation with your lawyer of course.
The first hearing - called arraignment - is typically an administrative event - Court will ask if you have an attorney, if you'd like to apply for a PD, and will enter a plea of "not guilty" if you decide to seek counsel. The subsequent hearings become more meaningful as the case progresses. You may plea guilty at the first hearing but typically Court will encourage you to retain an attorney and enter a "not guilty" plea. Most defendants (99%) enter a plea of not-guilty initially.
However, I would suggest you seek local counsel to better guide you since each case is different.
Get a public defender and let that lawyer explain the process to you.
This response does not create an attorney client relationship and is offered for informational purposes only. Only a lawyer fully versed on the facts and circumstances of your case can properly advise you on the case. I am licensed to practice in Minnesota, not every state. You should always consult with an attorney licensed in your area on how best to proceed.
One thing you should know is that you will most likely get a letter in the mail demanding money. They will call it a "civil demand" or a "civil fine." You should know that you do not have to pay this demand as you don't owe them any money and paying them will not affect your court case in any way. Good luck to you.