Learning About Criminal Law Proceedings

What To Expect From Your DUI Trial

If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, it's important that you understand how your DUI case will work. If your case doesn't go well, you might risk facing the full consequences of being convicted of a DUI, which will not only include fines and possible imprisonment but the suspension of your driver's license.

Your First Appearance in Court

Your first appearance in court will be your arraignment hearing. This will be when the charges will be brought against you officially. You will have the option of hiring a DUI lawyer, or you will be able to ask for help from a public defender.

You will be allowed to enter your plea at the arraignment hearing or at a separate plea hearing, depending on the state in which you reside. At that point, you will have one of three options:

  • Plea guilty
  • Plea not guilty
  • Plea no contest

This is the time when you may choose to enter into a plea bargain. Your attorney will discuss with you whether the prosecutor has the evidence necessary to prove that you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.

Hearings Before the Trial

You will have to participate in several hearings that occur during the discovery period of your criminal case. During this period of time, several things will happen:

  • All parties will exchange information
  • You and your attorney will discuss any motions that have been submitted
  • The hearing will establish probable cause
  • You will enter into jury selection

For example, the police will need to prove that they had a reason to pull you over for a DUI. If you were not showing signs of intoxication or were not breaking any laws, any evidence that was gathered while you were pulled over might be suppressed. 

The Trial

At the start of the trial, both parties will make their opening statements. There will be testimony from witnesses and experts. Your DUI defense lawyer will likely be in contact with an expert witness who will be able to present evidence that can be used to support your version of the events. 

Afterward, the evidence that your DUI attorney has gathered to prove that you didn't commit the crime will be presented. Both the attorney and the prosecutor will make closing arguments and your attorney will do their best to prove that you were not under the influence of alcohol.