DUI cases, like all criminal cases, follow a specific set of stages beginning with an arrest and ending with a DUI plea, conviction, or acquittal, and occasionally an appeal. Many of the stages of trial are the same as other criminal cases, but there are a few important differences. Learn about the stages of a DUI case by reading through the categories below. This section provides a chronological overview of what to expect at each stage of a DUI, DWI, or OWI case, including the drunk driving arrest, booking and bail, arraignment, preliminary hearings, pre-trial motions, trial, sentencing, and appeals. In addition, this section explains typical penalties and issues that may arise after your DUI conviction.« Show Less
Here’s a brief outline of what to expect from the DUI court process. First, you’re arrested, possibly unlawfully. Next, you’ll be booked and either post bail (pay to get out of jail) or will be released on your “own recognizance.” Then, you’ll be arraigned. The court reads the charge against you and you enter a plea, such as not guilty.
If you haven’t already pleaded guilty, the preliminary hearing is next. Here, a judge decides if the prosecution has enough evidence to continue. Finally, there’s the trial, for the rare DUI case that goes to trial. Trials are often stressful. If the defendant loses at trial, he or she may decide to appeal to a higher state court.
Some locations have separate DUI courts to make the process quick and efficient. However, the articles in this section are general, so the DWI procedures may be different in your area. Therefore, it’s best to consult with a local DUI attorney for the most accurate information.
After you plea or are convicted of a DUI, you’ll be sentenced. Many states have strict penalties, such as losing your driver’s license for a certain period, having your car impounded, or a minimum jail sentence — sometimes even for first time offenders. You may be required to go to an alcohol awareness class or attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
Additional penalties are intended to monitor your drinking after conviction. Many states use Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) or machines attached to your car’s ignition that the driver must blow with alcohol-free breath before the vehicle will start. Some states use SCRAM bracelets that attach to your leg and monitor the alcohol in your system. Offenders are generally required to pay for IIDs and ankle monitors, which aren’t cheap.
Drinking and driving has many consequences, some long lasting. These articles cover the basics, but again, state laws vary. Many states permit first time DWI or OWI offenders to avoid serious consequences by attending alcohol treatment or other activities. Even if you’ve avoided these, DUI convictions can impact your future employment.
Many employers won’t hire applicants with DUI convictions, especially for commercial driving. Also, a DUI can make car insurance prohibitively expensive. The majority of states require an SR-22 form from your insurer after a DUI to prove that you have auto liability insurance.
Finally, somewhere down the line, expunging your DUI might be possible. Expungement laws vary by state, so check with your local DUI attorney.