Understanding the Stages of a DUI Case
Guidance from a Santa Ana DUI Lawyer
DUI cases, or cases of alleged driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have many different stages—from the actual DUI arrest to sentencing. It is important for all drivers in the state of California to be aware of these various stages in case they ever find themselves dealing with DUI charges. Our law firm, Thomas Tears, Attorney at Law, provides an overview of the different stages of a DUI case. Because the dynamics of each case is different, it is important that you also have the details of your DUI matter reviewed by a skilled lawyer. Attorney Thomas Tears is a
Santa Ana criminal defense attorney who has more than three decades of experience practicing law in Orange County. He is ready to provide you with the legal support you need in your case!
List of DUI Case Stages
While not all defendant reaches every step listed below, these are the general stages of DUI cases:
DUI Arrest—Once a person is arrested for an alleged offense of driving under the influence, that individual officially has a DUI case. The DUI arrest occurs after the driver is stopped by law enforcement and investigated for possible impairment. These investigations involve talking to the driver, taking note of common signs of impairment (such as slurred speech or the odor of alcohol), and conducting tests of impairment. These tests will usually include
field sobriety tests,
breath tests and/or blood tests.
Driver's License Suspension—After the arrest, the driver will have his or her driver's license confiscated, and he or she will receive a notice of license suspension or revocation. The individual will have 10 days to request a DMV hearing to contest the loss of his or her driving privileges.
Arraignment—This is usually the driver's first court appearance following the DUI arrest. At this hearing, the defendant is informed of the charges and is required to enter a plea of one of the following: guilty, not guilty or no contest. If a guilty or no contest plea is entered, the case next goes to sentencing.
Plea Bargain Offer—There are many DUI cases that result in prosecutors offering the defendant a plea deal, which usually involves the defendant entering a guilty plea in exchange for reduced charges or less severe sentencing.
Pre-Trial Hearings and Motions—If the defendant chooses to contest the DUI charges, he or she will have a preliminary hearing. At the hearing, the evidence is laid out before the judge, who then decides whether the evidence is strong enough to take the case to trial. Before trial, the attorneys involved with the case also have the chance to enter pre-trial motions, such as motions to have certain evidence suppressed.
Trial—The trial is a crucial part of the DUI case. This is where the attorneys from both sides present evidence and question witnesses in order to prove their cases. The judge and jury use these presentations to reach the final verdict of guilty or not guilty.
Sentencing—This is the stage at which the court issues the penalties for the DUI conviction.
It is important to note that DUI charges are sometimes dismissed or dropped at some point during the DUI process. This usually results from the defense attorney convincing prosecutors to drop the charges, or from the lawyer getting the case dismissed by the judge before the case goes to trial.
Contact our firm to learn more about how we can assist you with your DUI case. We have extensive experience and can provide you with the high-quality representation you are seeking!