What to Expect During Your DUI Trial

Your DUI attorney is the best resource for any questions you have about your DUI trial. Each DUI case has unique circumstances. There is no one size fits all approach to defending a DUI.

There are about 1.5 million people charged with DUI every year, according to Drunk Driving Protection. Each case requires a custom strategy to get the best outcome. However, there are some standard procedures almost every person charged with DUI will have to deal with.

First Appearance

Your first appearance before the judge will be your arraignment. The arraignment hearing is when your charges are read in open court and you enter your plea. You may or may not have hired your DUI attorney at this point. If you have yet to hire an attorney, now is the time to do it. Do not fight this alone.

Pleading Phase

Before the trial begins but after your first court appearance, is considered the pleading phase. Many DUI cases are settled during this phase. The prosecutorial team will make an offer, and your attorney will negotiate the terms. If it is acceptable to you, the case can be settled without trial.

The Trial

You can opt to have a jury trial, or the judge can be the jury. If a jury trial is recommended, a jury will have to be chosen for the trial. Both your attorney and the prosecutor (DA) will participate in choosing the jury.

Opening Statements and Witness Testimony

The trial will start with opening statements by your DUI attorney and the prosecutor. They will each lay out their case to the jury or the judge. Each side has the right to bring in witnesses to prove their case, and cross-examine the witnesses. In a DUI case, the primary witness for the prosecutor is almost always law enforcement.

The officer that charged you will be present in court and will describe what evidence led to the charge. The defense will present witnesses that will dispute the evidence. Once all the evidence and testimony are heard, each side will make closing arguments.

Guilt or Innocence?

It can take anywhere from a couple of hours to days for a jury to come back with a verdict. If you choose to forgo a jury, the finding comes back quicker.

An experienced attorney is your best defense to a DUI charge.