If you are like most people, being arrested for driving under the influence is the first time you have been in trouble with the law.
Being charged with drunk driving can be a very stressful and traumatizing experience. Knowing what to expect can help alleviate some of the uncertainty of the DUI trial process.
It is important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you in court. The penalties for a drunk-driving conviction include probation, fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. Having an attorney on your side increases your odds of having your charges minimized or even dismissed.
The first hearing you will attend after being arrested for DUI is arraignment. During arraignment, a judge will read out the charges against you and ask how you plead. There are three answers you can give: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Most DUI cases do not get past arraignment, as many defendants plead guilty. If you enter a guilty or no contest plea, you may be sentenced on the spot. If you plead not guilty, the judge will announce the dates for your pre-trial motions and trial.
After the arraignment comes the preliminary hearing. During this hearing, the judge will review the evidence against you to determine if there is enough to convict you for drunk driving. This doesn’t happen in every DUI case, as some states skip this step for misdemeanor offenses.
Before the case goes to trial, your attorney may file pre-trial motions. These motions are used to keep unfavorable evidence from being introduced in court. For example, if you made a self-incriminating statement before your Miranda Rights were read, your attorney may file to keep this statement from being used in trial.
After the pre-trial motions are filed, the DUI trial will begin. It is during this time that the prosecution and defense present their evidence before a jury. Witnesses may be called to provide favorable testimony for each side. After the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the jury must deliberate in order to decide on a verdict.
If the jury finds you not guilty, the case is over. If you are found guilty, the judge will sentence you to criminal penalties.
As you can see, there are many steps in a DUI trial. If you have recently been charged with drinking and driving, it is in your best interest to hire skilled legal representation as soon as possible.